Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

”Come Back to the Raft Ag’in, Huck Honey!”

Fiedler’s first critical work appeared in 1948 and came about from his habit of reading American novels to his sons. The essay appeared in a journal called Partisan Review and was the subject of a great amount of critical debate and controversy. "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!" argued a recurrent theme in American literature was an unspoken or implied homoerotic relationship between men, famously using Huckleberry Finn and Jim as examples. Pairs of men flee for wilderness rather than remain in the civilizing and domesticated world of women. Fiedler also deals with this male bonding in Love and Death in the American Novel (1960), Waiting for the End (1964) and The Return of the Vanishing American (1968).

As Winchell wrote in his book on Fiedler, “Reading ‘Come Back to the Raft’ over half a century later, one tends to forget that, prior to Fiedler, few critics had discussed classic American literature in terms of race, gender, and sexuality” (Winchell 53). Fiedler emphasizes the fact that the males who are paired in these wilderness adventures tend to be of different races as well, created an added critical dimension. Come Back to the Raft not only caused a stream of letters of protest to be sent to Partisan Review, but it also was attacked by the critical community. For instance, Queer theorist Christopher Looby argues that Fiedler's claims were noticeably from a 20th century urban perspective and did not adequately address the time period in which Huckleberry Finn was written.




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