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Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American DreamCon Men, Gangsters, Drug Lords, and Zombies$
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Paul A. Cantor

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813177304

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813177304.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Aristocracy in America

Aristocracy in America

Huckleberry Finn and the Democratic Art of Imposture

(p.17) 1 Aristocracy in America
Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American Dream

Paul A. Cantor

University Press of Kentucky

The fluidity of identity in democratic America is a central theme in Huckleberry Finn and reveals how the bright side of the American dream is connected to the dark. Released from the shackles of aristocracy in Europe, Americans are free to become the best that they can be and to rise in social and economic position. But a fresh start may easily become a false start, and the freedom to reinvent oneself is also a license to imposture. Thus a novel that celebrates democratic freedom also chronicles the ways that freedom can be abused. In the misadventures of the charlatan king and duke, Twain identifies a problem in the new democracy—its need to find new forms of nobility and thus its nostalgia for the old European aristocratic poses.

Keywords:   Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, Aristocracy, Democracy, Freedom

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