"Take a little Shakespeare here, add a little Scripture there, rework a bad joke, and voilà, another masterpiece."
For me, the funniest part of Huckleberry Finn is an example of what our author Ralph Luker calls “sampling.” Twain’s bogus King and his equally fraudulent Duke of Bilgewater are planning to present an evening of theater, and the Duke is casting about for a suitable finale. He seizes on the immortal soliloquy from Hamlet, and, after a struggle, he “call[s] it back from recollection’s vaults.”
To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane,
But that the fear of something after death
Murders the innocent sleep,
Great nature’s second course,
And makes us rather sling the arrows of outrageous fortune
Than fly to others that we know not of.