Although I have always enjoyed Mark Twain's work--his Diary of Adam and Eve is one of my favorites--I've never read Tom Sawyer. Recently I found a small book from the Barnes-Nobel collector's library and decided to read it. That particular issue is probably not the best to use, especially for a first introduction because it is badly edited and exhibits an inordinant number of spelling errors and misplaced words. Certainly for a volume one will use for quotations in any paper one writes a better copy, like the one above, would be more desireable.
Despite his depression in later years, Mark Twain captures the sly sense of humor and dry wit that is a characteristic of American humorous writers: O'Henry and Will Rogers, among them. This is well illlustrated in Tom Sawyer, a novel about being a kid, not just in the 1880s but any time. Twain gets right into the heart and mind of childhood, it's myths, superstitions, trials and victories, even it's great philosophies: "He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it, namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain (p. 25)." (The latter a gloss on the whitewashing of Aunt Polly's fence.)
Truly a Twain and truly a joy.
For THOSE WRITING PAPERS: in English literature. How might Twain stack up against a modern humorist? What types of things make this a "dated" work? Why does that datedness appeal to many readers. How is Tom like modern children? Mark Twain was an adult when he wrote the book. Do you think that that fact makes the story less about a child and how he views the world and more about how an adult remembers being a child? Watch a film about Tom Sawyer. How has Hollywood reworked the story? Does seeing some of Tom's adventures help one enjoy them more? Or does getting "inside his head" through the book make it more enjoyable?