Caveat: Classic Bros For Classic Prose is a book club for all that was started by a few basic bros trying to read literature.
September’s book: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Witty and absorbing, Tom Sawyer is the classic for sunny days with an aperitif and a charcuterie board.
A far stretch from the philosophical, highfalutin jargon and dark satire of contemporaries, the 1876 bildungsroman and picaresque novel by Twain was revolutionary: the prose was accessible and lighthearted, and the dialogue adopted the common vernacular of the American South, creating a droll satire.
Lookyhere, Huck, being rich ain't going to keep me back from turning robber.
No! Oh, good-licks; are you in real dead-wood earnest, Tom?
Just as dead earnest as I'm sitting here. But Huck, we can't let you into the gang if you ain't respectable, you know.
Twain critiqued the shortcomings of the adult world—the hypocrisy, the corruption of institutions and systems, the prejudice, the oppression of minorities—through the innocent and errant Tom who, free from the damaging beliefs of adulthood, saunters from one adventure to the next, cleaning up the town’s bloody mess.
Although mischievous and defiant, Tom embodies an integrity in a world of sticklers supporting the very rules that debase the country’s moral backbone.
In the contained town of Saint Petersburg, face-value judgement and intolerance breeds a blindness. The hypocrisy and injustice of it glares as the adult world berates and judges Tommy boy for momentary rash behaviour, failing to see the ardent heart and innocent intentions within, which we, the reader, are given insight.
In a society run by guilt and fear of religious and societal persecution, and defensively masks vulnerability through condemnation, our main man, Tommy, acts as the antidote. Customary to the bildungsroman genre, Tom matures each time he escapes society to nature to embark on a new escapade. As he grows, he learns to discern flawed beliefs of the world with wiser principles and, with that foresight, has the courage to win over his love, Becky; be the impetus of Injun Joe’s, the town’s villain, ultimate demise; and discover a bunch of valuable gold allowing him to "buy a new drum, and a sure-'nough sword, and a red necktie and a bull pup, and get married."
Tom was a glittering hero once more—the pet of the old, the envy of the young. His name even went into immortal print, for the village paper magnified him. There were some that believed he would be President, yet, if he escaped hanging.
For a man that can sometimes be desperately conscientious, I learnt a lot from little Tommy who refused to base self-worth on the approval of superiors. He seemed so grounded in an innocence adulthood does a good job masking.
In our distrust to the world outside the doorstep, we could all learn a thing from Tom’s imagination, zest to explore and learn in nature, ability to not take things too seriously and, even, his disobedience. Because sometimes it’s important to flaunt the rules and discover one’s own truth.
October’s book: Ulysses by James Joyce’s. Happy reading.