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Overview

About the Author

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, or Mark Twain, as he was better known was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri, the sixth child of John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens. His father ran a dry goods and grocery store, practiced law and involved himself in local politics after the family's move to Hannibal, Missouri, when Sam was four years old.

Hannibal seems to have been a good place for a boy to grow up. Sam was entranced by the Mississippi River and enjoyed both the barges and the people who traveled on them. When Sam was just eleven his father died and Sam went to work for his brother at the Hannibal Journal first as a printer's apprentice and later a compositor. While still in his teens Sam went on the road as an itinerant printer. In 1857 he conceived a plan to seek his fortune in South America but on the way he met a steamboat captain, Horace Bixby who took him on as a cub riverboat pilot and taught him until he acquired his own license.

This enjoyable style of life, which Twain always spoke of later with special warmth was ended by the Civil War. Twain went west with his brother Orion to prospect in Nevada but in 1862 joined the staff of the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, a paper to which he had already begun submitting his work. Later Twain went to California and submitted "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" to the New York Saturday Press.

By 1871 Twain had published Innocents Abroad and had married Olivia Langdon, the sister of a friend from a socially prominent New York City family. He and his wife moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where they made their family home for thenext 20 years.

Books that he wrote in Hartford confirmed his popular reputation but despite their success Twain found himself in financial difficulty primarily because of his investments in the Paige typesetting business as well as his own publishing company. Eventually Twain was forced to declare bankruptcy.

Twain's last major books were successful commercially but they also reflect his increasing pessimism. His satire becomes at times more biting and mean-spirited than it is humorous. Despite the downturn in Twain's outlook in later life and despite the unevenness of much of his work, he remains one of the major writers of the American nineteenth century, and one who has been enormously influential on subsequent writers.

The adventures of a boy and a runaway slave as they travel down the Mississippi River on a raft.

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  • Moving Paragraphs: Huck Finn
    Moving Paragraphs: Huck Finn  

Editorial Reviews

Ernest Hemingway
All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.
St. Paul Pioneer Press
The man touted as "America's favorite storyteller," Garrison Keillor, has joined leagues with America's other favorite storyteller, Mark Twain. He reads his own adaptation of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." [brought to you by HighBridge Audio] ...Where most readers make Finn sound like a gritty, stream-smart little river rat, Keillor gives him a whiff of wistfulness andyeseven an ingenuous quality. And it will go down in history as the only recording that changes the ending of the book....Keillor even has his own bit of fun, including on the cassette jacket "A Note From the Hero's Father," one Newton P. Finn, a three-term member of Congress from Missouri. Finn claims that the book "has some true parts in it, but most of it is stretched, as you'd expect from a writer who doesn't even use his own name." The whole thing is a powerful lot of fun.
Audiofile
Radio personality and best-selling author Garrison Keillor lends his considerable charm, enthusiasm and taste to this superb reading and abridgment of Twain's classic [brought to you by HighBridge Audio]. His cutting makes no concessions to the Comstockery that has made "Huckleberry Finn" an object of heated debate. Instead, he gives us a "good parts" version, his personal pick of choice passages, edited with sensitivity to narrative flow, style and theme. The same literary tact plays in his voice, along with love and a childlike ingenuousness. The pristine recording is an excellent introduction to Keillor, as well as to Sam Clemens, two of America's most engaging heartland storytellers.
Trudi Miller Rosenblum
Patrick Fraley previously recorded what is surely the definitive audio version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and he achieves the same masterful result with this title. Fraley sounds less like a narrator and more like a storyteller spinning a colorful yarn. His folksy accent is perfect for Huck, and he creates a host of distinctive voices that bring to life the story's colorful cast of characters. Students new to Twain's work will find this an inviting introduction, while adults and Twain fans who have read Huckleberry Finn many times will find added enjoyment and meaning in the new audio version.
Billboard
Booklist
This is the first edition of the classic American novel, the first ever to be based on Twain's entire original manuscript.
Los Angeles Times
The story of the classic, controversial tale's latest edition is one of painstaking literary detective work. 'It's like filling in the genome,' for the book, said noted Twain scholar Louis J. Budd. 'Maybe nothing is ever the last word, especially on Twain, but this seems like it.'
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
This is the definitive critical edition of Huckleberry Finn you've been waiting for. Ingenious textual detective work rescues Twain at last from hundreds of careless errors by typists, typesetters and proofreaders. The fascinating explanatory notes help us decode allusions that were familiar to readers in Twain's time but are obscure today, while the reproduced manuscript pages let us compare for the first time first and final drafts of some of the book's most memorable passages. This splendid book belongs in every library, home, and literature classroom.
Charles H. Gold
The University of California Press has presented everything needed to understand Twain and his works. They have made him the most accessible of major American writers, the most thoroughly documented.
Chicago Sun-Times
Edward Wagenknecht
First rate.
Chicago Tribune
M. T. Inge
No other American writer has been served so competently or so successfully in the publication of sound texts as has Samuel L. Clemens by the Mark Twain Project of the University of California in Berkeley.
Choice
Harold Beaver
As admirable as is now to be expected from the Mark Twain Project of the Bancroft Library.
Yearbook of English Studies
San Fransico Chronicle
The Mark Twain Project looms over the landscape of literary scholarship like Mount Everest.
Louis J. Budd
Because of the lately recovered half of the manuscript we now have the genome filled in for Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, along with the Mississippi-wide expertise that shows us how to comprehend this edition. To borrow from one of the Connecticut Yankee's walking ads, 'All the Prime-Donne will use it.'
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this centenary year of the first American edition of Huckleberry Finn, Neider, who has worked long and well in the thickets of Twain scholarship (this is the ninth Twain volume he has edited), offers a most fitting tribute, for which he will be thanked in some quarters, damned in others. Neider's contribution is twofold: he has restored to its rightful place the great rafting chapter, which the author had lifted from the manuscript-in-progress and dropped into Life on the Mississippi, and he has abridged some of the childish larkiness in the portions in which Huck's friend Tom Sawyer intrudes into this novel. For decades, critics have lamented the absence of the ``missing'' chapter and deplored the jarring presence of Tom in episodes that slow the narrative, but not until now has anyone had the temerity to set matters right. In paring back the ``Tom'' chapters (which he fully documents in his lengthy, spirited introduction, with literal line counts of the excised material), Neider has achieved a brisker read. Though there may be some brickbats thrown at him for this ``sacrilege,'' few should object to the belated appearance of the transplanted rafting chapter in the novel in which it clearly belongs. October 25
Children's Literature
What does a young boy do when he witnesses a murder but is terrified the murderer will come after him and kill him if he tells anyone what he saw? This terrible quandary is just one of the trials young Tom Sawyer and his friend Huckleberry Finn face after they see a man killed. On top of this worry about being attacked by the murderer, Tom has to deal with a meddlesome aunt, an ornery teacher, and a pretty girl who does not respond to his schoolboy affection. Quite an adventure for a boy who started his summer trying to get out of having to whitewash a picket fence! Fans of adventure stories, mystery buffs, or readers who enjoyed getting into scrapes with Tom years ago will enjoy this tale of a mischievous boy and his assorted pranks, trials, and intrigues. The book is funny, interesting, and thought provoking. Readers may be put off by archaic language and slang, but once you get beyond the printed words, Tom Sawyer is a wonderful book about a loveable boy who could not stay out of trouble. Part of the "Adventure Classics" series. 2005 (orig. 1876), HarperCollins, Ages 8 to 12.
—Caitlyn Payne
Children's Literature - Kathie M. Josephs
What a classic story. The book about Tom Sawyer is in the elite class of novels that will never fade away. Mr. Hall has taken the original story and condensed it into a graphic novel so that it can be enjoyed by a wider level and range of readers. Because this book is written in graphic form, it opens the door to reading for ESL students and reluctant readers, and provides high interest at a lower level. Young adults who want to read anything they can get their hands on will also enjoy the graphic format and fast paced text. The author includes a box on most pages that includes narration giving extra information to the reader to help with comprehension. Also helpful are the first two pages that introduce the characters by names and pictures. This is definitely an outstanding tool for helping the reader to follow the story. When Huck and Tom are hunting for a treasure and discussing what each would do with the money, Tom's friend Huck says he would buy a pie every day. I bet a lot of boys would agree with him. Included at the end of the book is further information about Tom Sawyer, "Discussion Questions," and "Writing Prompts," other books in the "Graphic Library Series," and step-by-step directions about how to use the Fact Hound web site. This web site is particularly beneficial because it is set up to allow the user to select the grade level of information they want. Every boy should read this story at least once in his life. It is also a wonderful book for a father to read with a son.
Library Journal
Though numerous editions of Twain's 1885 novel abound, this is the first to incorporate four previously unknown episodes discovered in 1990 when the first half of the original handwritten manuscript was unearthed. This edition also includes the original illustrations as well as photos of 29 original pages and notes by Twain scholar Victor Doyno. All this at a reasonable price makes Random's comprehensive edition of Huckleberry Finn essential for all libraries.
Library Journal
The Mark Twain Project used the second half of the original manuscript of Twain's masterwork (given by Twain to the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library), together with the first half from the first American edition of 1885, for its 1985 edition of the novel. In 1990, however, the first half of the original manuscript was found in the attic of the great-granddaughter of James Gluck, the curator of the Buffalo library. While the recovery of the first half of the manuscript (told in detail in "Note on the Text") is itself an interesting detective story, the upshot of the matter is that the present text represents the whole manuscript as Twain surely intended it before typesetters and proofreaders introduced the errors that we have been reading all these years. Most of those numerous errors are minor (misspellings and punctuation errors), but some are significant (three revised sections of the novel, for example). Few but Twain scholars will appreciate the meticulous editing that has gone into this volume, but those who care will be able to see more clearly than ever how carefully Twain revised the novel into its greatness. Highly recommended for all scholarly libraries. Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-The St. Charles Players superbly present the essence of Mark Twain's 1884 classic in this Radio Theatre rendition. With an 18-person cast, they retell the story in a variety of voices, using many of the author's original words as well as adding their own narrative and conversation. This audio version allows youngsters to learn of Huckleberry's trip down the Mississippi on a raft in the company of the (allegedly) runaway slave Jim without bogging them down with hard to understand dialect or offensive words. The style is reminiscent of the Golden Years of Radio drama, with original music and sound effects accompanying the dramatic telling. The aural quality is good, with clear enunciation. Although the action follows the book commendably and includes all the events of major importance, this cannot be used as a read-along version. This is not a drawback, but rather a means of enticing younger students to become acquainted with Twain's work. It would appeal to teachers or librarians who are looking for a lively way to introduce the classics. For older students, also consider Trafalgar Square's three-hour The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Sept. 2000, p. 84).-Joanne K. Hammond, Chambersburg Area Middle School, PA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
(Gr 5-Up) - Lapointe has colorfully illustrated various scenes from Twain's original story with detailed paintings and captioned each one with a quote from the text. Additional historical maps, reproductions, modern photographs, and other types of pictures from numerous sources give readers a better insight into life in the 1800s. They include pictures of Hannibal, MO, Mark Twain's birthplace and the inspiration for much of his work; animals and plants appear in the text along with common objects of the times. Most of them enhance readers' understanding. The result is a combination picture story/social commentary on the period. The trim size is a bit larger than that of most novels, allowing for a comfortable print size. Almost every page has at least one illustration and there are several double-page spreads. The only drawback to this version is that youngsters who are not familiar with the story may find the abundance of captioned illustrations in their myriad styles, formats, and colors distracting. However, for those who already know the story or are studying it in conjunction with 19th-century America, this version is a must. - Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC
From The Critics
"One can read it at ten and then annually ever after, and each year find that it is as fresh as the year before..."--Lionel Trilling
From The Critics
The St. Charles Players present a fullcast dramatization in abridged audio form of Twain's classic story of two runaway boys experiencing adventure on the Mississippi. The dramatic reading insures that young listeners will find the story comes alive for them.
Childrens Book Watch
The St. Charles Players presents a multi-cast dramatization of Mark Twain's classic American novel, Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn in their unique and totally entertaining "Radio Theatre" style. This familiar story of Huck Finn, a young boy running away from home with Jim, a Negro slave seeking escape to freedom, is wonderfully retold with each bend of the Mississippi River bringing a new adventure, a chance encounter, a wealth of mischief, fun, and memorable characters. Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn is a rewarding, entertaining, highly recommended, two cassette, 141 minute, audiobook addition to any personal, school or community library collection.
—Childrens Book Watch
From the Publisher
"Although he does an expert job with the entire cast, [narrator William] Dufris's delivery of Jim's dialogue is his crowning achievement.…Jim's mind and heart come shining through." —-Publishers Weekly Audio Review
Forrest Robinson University of California
"Broadview's new Adventures of Huckleberry Finn answers the need for an edition of America's most popular canonical novel that provides readers—and most especially student readers at all levels—with the critical tools essential to serious inquiry. The text is reliable and beautifully produced; Stephen Railton's introduction is copious, well informed, and critically suggestive; and the several appendices, featuring a wide selection of contextual materials, nicely anticipate readers' needs.”
Eric J. Sundquist Johns Hopkins University
"This welcome new edition brings beautifully to life Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as Mark Twain conceived it. Along with the excellent critical introduction and notes, the abundant contextual materials offer a superb recreation of the historical and cultural context in which the novel was written and read.”
From Barnes & Noble
From Our Bargain Book Editors: Destined to become the standard text not only for schools and universities but for the general reader as well, this comprehensive edition of Twain's masterpiece includes recently discovered episodes omitted in other editions, as well as other variations taken from the first half of the handwritten manuscript and facsimile reproductions of 30 manuscript pages. Fascinating for the changes, deletions, and additions that Twain made in the original published work, these variations demonstrate the skill and restraint of the writer's creative process. B&W illus.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780821916391
  • Publisher: EMC/Paradigm Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/28/1998
  • Format: DVD - NTSC
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1

Meet the Author

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, in 1835, and died at Redding, Connecticut in 1910. In his person and in his pursuits he was a man of extraordinary contrasts. Although he left school at twelve when his father died, he was eventually awarded honorary degrees from Yale University, the University of Missouri, and Oxford University. His career encompassed such varied occupations as printer, Mississippi riverboat pilot, journalist, travel writer, and publisher. He made fortunes from his writing but toward the end of his life he had to resort to lecture tours to pay his debts. He was hot-tempered, profane, and sentimental—and also pessimistic, cynical, and tortured by self-doubt. His nostalgia helped produce some of his best books. He lives in American letters as a great artist, the writer whom William Dean Howells called “the Lincoln of our literature.”

Biography

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri; his family moved to the port town of Hannibal four years later. His father, an unsuccessful farmer, died when Twain was eleven. Soon afterward the boy began working as an apprentice printer, and by age sixteen he was writing newspaper sketches. He left Hannibal at eighteen to work as an itinerant printer in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. From 1857 to 1861 he worked on Mississippi steamboats, advancing from cub pilot to licensed pilot.

After river shipping was interrupted by the Civil War, Twain headed west with his brother Orion, who had been appointed secretary to the Nevada Territory. Settling in Carson City, he tried his luck at prospecting and wrote humorous pieces for a range of newspapers. Around this time he first began using the pseudonym Mark Twain, derived from a riverboat term. Relocating to San Francisco, he became a regular newspaper correspondent and a contributor to the literary magazine the Golden Era. He made a five-month journey to Hawaii in 1866 and the following year traveled to Europe to report on the first organized tourist cruise. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches (1867) consolidated his growing reputation as humorist and lecturer.

After his marriage to Livy Langdon, Twain settled first in Buffalo, New York, and then for two decades in Hartford, Connecticut. His European sketches were expanded into The Innocents Abroad (1869), followed by Roughing It (1872), an account of his Western adventures; both were enormously successful. Twain's literary triumphs were offset by often ill-advised business dealings (he sank thousands of dollars, for instance, in a failed attempt to develop a new kind of typesetting machine, and thousands more into his own ultimately unsuccessful publishing house) and unrestrained spending that left him in frequent financial difficulty, a pattern that was to persist throughout his life.

Following The Gilded Age (1873), written in collaboration with Charles Dudley Warner, Twain began a literary exploration of his childhood memories of the Mississippi, resulting in a trio of masterpieces --The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883), and finally The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), on which he had been working for nearly a decade. Another vein, of historical romance, found expression in The Prince and the Pauper (1882), the satirical A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), and Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), while he continued to draw on his travel experiences in A Tramp Abroad (1880) and Following the Equator (1897). His close associates in these years included William Dean Howells, Bret Harte, and George Washington Cable, as well as the dying Ulysses S. Grant, whom Twain encouraged to complete his memoirs, published by Twain's publishing company in 1885.

For most of the 1890s Twain lived in Europe, as his life took a darker turn with the death of his daughter Susy in 1896 and the worsening illness of his daughter Jean. The tone of Twain's writing also turned progressively more bitter. The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), a detective story hinging on the consequences of slavery, was followed by powerful anti-imperialist and anticolonial statements such as 'To the Person Sitting in Darkness' (1901), 'The War Prayer' (1905), and 'King Leopold's Soliloquy' (1905), and by the pessimistic sketches collected in the privately published What Is Man? (1906). The unfinished novel The Mysterious Stranger was perhaps the most uncompromisingly dark of all Twain's later works. In his last years, his financial troubles finally resolved, Twain settled near Redding, Connecticut, and died in his mansion, Stormfield, on April 21, 1910.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Samuel Langhorne Clemens (real name); Sieur Louis de Conte
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 30, 1835
    2. Place of Birth:
      Florida, Missouri
    1. Date of Death:
      April 21, 1910
    2. Place of Death:
      Redding, Connecticut

Read an Excerpt

1

I Discover Moses and the Bulrushers


YOU DON'T KNOW about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly - Tom's Aunt Polly, she is - and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.

Now the way that the book winds up is this: Tom and me found the money that the robbers hid in the cave, and it made us rich. We got six thousand dollars apiece all gold. It was an awful sight of money when it was piled up. Well, Judge Thatcher he took it and put it out at interest, and it fetched us a dollar a day apiece all the year round - more than a body could tell what to do with. The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn't stand it no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said he was going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would go back to the widow and be respectable. So I went back.

The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and she called me a lot of other names, too, but she never meant no harm by it. She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn't do nothing but sweat and sweat, and felt all cramped up. Well, then, the old thing commenced again. The widow rung a bell for supper, and you had to come to time. When you got to the table you couldn't go right to eating, but you had to wait for the widow to tuck down her head and grumble a little over the victuals, though there warn't really anything the matter with them - that is, nothing only everything was cooked by itself. In a barrel of odds and ends it is different; things get mixed up, and the juice kind of swaps around, and the things go better.

After supper she got out her book and learned me about Moses and the Bulrushers, and I was in a sweat to find out all about him; but by and by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then I didn't care no more about him, because I don't take no stock in dead people.

Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow to let me. But she wouldn't. She said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean, and I must try to not do it any more. That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don't know nothing about it. Here she was a-bothering about Moses, which was no kin to her, and no use to anybody, being gone, you see, yet finding a power of fault with me for doing a thing that had some good in it. And she took snuff, too; of course that was all right, because she done it herself.

Her sister, Miss Watson, a tolerable slim old maid, with goggles on, had just come to live with her, and took a set at me now with a spelling book. She worked me middling hard for about an hour, and then the widow made her ease up. I couldn't stood it much longer. Then for an hour it was deadly dull, and I was fidgety. Miss Watson would say, "Don't put your feet up there, Huckleberry"; and "Don't scrunch up like that, Huckleberry - set up straight"; and pretty soon she would say, "Don't gap and stretch like that, Huckleberry - why don't you try to behave?" Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished I was there. She got mad then, but I didn't mean no harm. All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn't particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said; said she wouldn't say it for the whole world; she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn't see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn't try for it. But I never said so, because it would only make trouble, and wouldn't do no good.

Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn't think much of it. But I never said so. I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.

Miss Watson she kept pecking at me, and it got tiresome and lonesome. By and by they fetched the niggers in and had prayers, and then everybody was off to bed. I went up to my room with a piece of candle, and put it on the table. Then I set down in a chair by the window and tried to think of something cheerful, but it warn't no use. I felt so lonesome I most wished I was dead. The stars were shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying to whisper something to me, and I couldn't make out what it was, and so it made the cold shivers run over me. Then away out in the woods I heard that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about something that's on its mind and can't make itself understood, and so can't rest easy in its grave, and has to go about that way every night grieving. I got so downhearted and scared I did wish I had some company. Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it off and it lit in the candle; and before I could budge it was all shriveled up. I didn't need anybody to tell me that that was an awful bad sign and would fetch me some bad luck, so I was scared and most shook the clothes off of me. I got up and turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breast every time; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread to keep witches away. But I hadn't no confidence. You do that when you've lost a horseshoe that you've found, instead of nailing it up over the door, but I hadn't ever heard anybody say it was any way to keep off bad luck when you'd killed a spider.

I set down again, a-shaking all over, and got out my pipe for a smoke; for the house was all as still as death now, and so the widow wouldn't know. Well, after a long time I heard the clock away off in the town go boom - boom - boom - twelve licks; and all still again - stiller than ever. Pretty soon I heard a twig snap down in the dark amongst the trees - something was a-stirring. I set still and listened. Directly I could just barely hear a "me-yow! me-yow!" down there. That was good! Says I, "me-yow! me-yow!" as soft as I could, and then I put out the light and scrambled out of the window on to the shed. Then I slipped down to the ground and crawled in among the trees, and, sure enough, there was Tom Sawyer waiting for me.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Why Study Critical Controversies? 1
Pt. 1 Mark Twain and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Life of Samuel Clemens and the Reception of Huckleberry Finn 19
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: The 1885 Text 27
A Portfolio of Illustrations from the 1885 Edition 266
Pt. 2 A Case Study in Critical Controversy
The Controversy over the Ending: Did Mark Twain Sell Jim down the River? 279
A Certain Formal Aptness 284
The Boy and the River: Without Beginning or End 286
Mr. Eliot, Mr. Trilling, and Huckleberry Finn 290
Attacks on the Ending and Twain's Attack on Conscience 305
Overreaching: Critical Agenda and the Ending of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 312
The Controversy over Race: Does Huckleberry Finn Combat or Reinforce Racist Attitudes? 335
Morality and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 340
Born to Trouble: One Hundred Years of Huckleberry Finn 348
The Struggle for Tolerance: Race and Censorship in Huckleberry Finn 359
Kemble's "Specialty" and the Pictorial Countertext of Huckleberry Finn 383
From Was Huck Black? 407
More than a Reader's Response: A Letter to "De Ole True Huck" 450
On the Nature and Status of Covert Texts: A Reply to Gerry Brenner's "Letter to 'De Ole True Huck'" 468
The Controversy over Gender and Sexuality: Are Twain's Sexual Politics Progressive, Regressive, or Beside the Point? 480
Reformers and Young Maidens: Women and Virtue in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 485
Reading Gender in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 505
Walker versus Jehlen versus Twain 518
A Response to Frederick Crews 525
Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey! 528
"Innocent Homosexuality": The Fiedler Thesis in Retrospect 535
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First Chapter

Chapter I: Tom Plays, Fights, and Hides "Tom!"

No answer.

"Tom!"

No answer.

"What's gone with that boy, I wonder? You, TOM!"

No answer.

The old lady pulled her spectacles down and looked over them about the room; then she put them up and looked out under them. She seldom or never looked through them for so small a thing as a boy; they were her state pair, the pride of her heart, and were built for "style," not service -- she could have seen through a pair of stove lids just as well. She looked perplexed for a moment, and then said, not fiercely, but still loud enough for the furniture to hear:

"Well, I lay if I get hold of you I'll -- "

She did not finish, for by this time she was bending down and punching under the bed with the broom, and so she needed breath to punctuate the punches with. She resurrected nothing but the cat.

"I never did see the beat of that boy!"

She went to the open door and stood in it and looked out among the tomato vines and "jimpson" weeds that constituted the garden. No Tom. So she lifted up her voice at an angle calculated for distance, and shouted:

"Y-o-u-u, Tom!"

There was a slight noise behind her and she turned just in time to seize a small boy by the slack of his roundabout and arrest his flight.

"There! I might 'a' thought of that closet. What you been doing in there?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing! Look at your hands. And look at your mouth. What is that truck?"

"I don't know, aunt."

"Well, I know. It's jam -- that's what it is. Forty times I've said if you didn't let that jam alone I'd skin you. Hand me that switch."

The switch hovered in the air -- the peril was desperate --

"My! Look behind you, aunt!"

The old lady whirled round, and snatched her skirts out of danger. The lad fled, on the instant, scrambled up the high board fence, and disappeared over it.

His aunt Polly stood surprised a moment, and then broke into a gentle laugh.

"Hang the boy, can't I never learn anything? Ain't he played me tricks enough like that for me to be looking out for him by this time? But old fools is the biggest fools there is. Can't learn an old dog new tricks, as the saying is. But my goodness, he never plays them alike, two days, and how is a body to know what's coming? He 'pears to know just how long he can torment me before I get my dander up, and he knows if he can make out to put me off for a minute or make me laugh, it's all down again and I can't hit him a lick. I ain't doing my duty by that boy, and that's the Lord's truth, goodness knows. Spare the rod and spile the child, as the Good Book says. I'm a-laying up sin and suffering for us both, I know. He's full of the Old Scratch, but laws-a-me! he's my own dead sister's boy, poor thing, and I ain't got the heart to lash him, somehow. Every time I let him off, my conscience does hurt me so, and every time I hit him my old heart most breaks. Well-a-well, man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble, as the Scripture says, and I reckon it's so. He'll play hooky this evening, and I'll just be obleeged to make him work, tomorrow, to punish him. It's mighty hard to make him work Saturdays, when all the boys is having holiday, but he hates work more than he hates anything else, and I've got to do some of my duty by him, or I'll be the ruination of the child."

Tom did play hooky, and he had a very good time. He got back home barely in season to help Jim, the small colored boy, saw next day's wood and split the kindlings before supper -- at least he was there in time to tell his adventures to Jim while Jim did three-fourths of the work. Tom's younger brother (or rather, half brother), Sid, was already through with his part of the work (picking up chips), for he was a quiet boy and had no adventurous, troublesome ways.

While Tom was eating his supper, and stealing sugar as opportunity offered, Aunt Polly asked him questions that were full of guile, and very deep -- for she wanted to trap him into damaging revealments. Like many other simple-hearted souls, it was her pet vanity to believe she was endowed with a talent for dark and mysterious diplomacy, and she loved to contemplate her most transparent devices as marvels of low cunning.

"Tom, it was middling warm in school, warn't it?"

"Yes'm."

"Powerful warm, warn't it?"

"Yes'm."

"Didn't you want to go in a-swimming, Tom?"

A bit of a scare shot through Tom -- a touch of uncomfortable suspicion. He searched Aunt Polly's face, but it told him nothing. So he said:

"No'm -- well, not very much."

The old lady reached out her hand and felt Tom's shirt and said:

"But you ain't too warm now, though." And it flattered her to reflect that she had discovered that the shirt was dry without anybody knowing that that was what she had in her mind. But in spite of her, Tom knew where the wind lay, now. So he forestalled what might be the next move:

"Some of us pumped on our heads -- mine's damp yet. See?"

Aunt Polly was vexed to think she had overlooked that bit of circumstantial evidence, and missed a trick. Then she had a new inspiration:

"Tom, you didn't have to undo your shirt collar where I sewed it, to pump on your head, did you? Unbutton your jacket!"

The trouble vanished out of Tom's face. He opened his jacket. His shirt collar was securely sewed.

"Bother! Well, go 'long with you. I'd made sure you'd played hooky and been a-swimming. But I forgive ye, Tom. I reckon you're a kind of a singed cat, as the saying is -- better'n you look. This time."

She was half sorry her sagacity had miscarried, and half glad that Tom had stumbled into obedient conduct for once.

But Sidney said:

"Well, now, if I didn't think you sewed his collar with white thread, but it's black."

"Why, I did sew it with white! Tom!"

But Tom did not wait for the rest. As he went out at the door he said:

"Siddy, I'll lick you for that."

In a safe place Tom examined two large needles which were thrust into the lapels of his jacket, and had thread bound about them -- one needle carried white thread and the other black. He said:

"She'd never noticed if it hadn't been for Sid. Confound it! sometimes she sews it with white, and sometimes she sews it with black. I wish to geeminy she'd stick to one or t'other -- I can't keep the run of 'em. But I bet you I'll lam Sid for that. I'll learn him!"

He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very well though -- and loathed him.

Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles. Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to him than a man's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest bore them down and drove them out of his mind for the time -- just as men's misfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. This new interest was a valued novelty in whistling, which he had just acquired from a Negro, and he was suffering to practice it undisturbed. It consisted in a peculiar birdlike turn, a sort of liquid warble, produced by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth at short intervals in the midst of the music -- the reader probably remembers how to do it, if he has ever been a boy. Diligence and attention soon gave him the knack of it, and he strode down the street with his mouth full of harmony and his soul full of gratitude. He felt much as an astronomer feels who has discovered a new planet -- no doubt, as far as strong, deep, unalloyed pleasure is concerned, the advantage was with the boy, not the astronomer.

The summer evenings were long. It was not dark, yet. Presently Tom checked his whistle. A stranger was before him -- a boy a shade larger than himself. A newcomer of any age or either sex was an impressive curiosity in the poor little shabby village of St. Petersburg. This boy was well dressed, too -- well dressed on a weekday. This was simply astounding. His cap was a dainty thing, his close-buttoned blue cloth roundabout was new and natty, and so were his pantaloons. He had shoes on -- and it was only Friday. He even wore a necktie, a bright bit of ribbon. He had a citified air about him that ate into Tom's vitals. The more Tom stared at the splendid marvel, the higher he turned up his nose at his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his own outfit seemed to him to grow. Neither boy spoke. If one moved, the other moved -- but only sidewise, in a circle; they kept face to face and eye to eye all the time. Finally Tom said:

"I can lick you!"

"I'd like to see you try it."

"Well, I can do it."

"No, you can't, either."

"Yes, I can."

"No, you can't."

"I can."

"You can't."

"Can!"

"Can't!"

An uncomfortable pause. Then Tom said:

"What's your name?"

"'Tisn't any of your business, maybe."

"Well, I 'low I'll make it my business."

"Well, why don't you?"

"If you say much, I will."

"Much -- much -- much. There now."

"Oh, you think you're mighty smart, don't you? I could lick you with one hand tied behind me, if I wanted to."

"Well, why don't you do it? You say you can do it."

"Well, I will, if you fool with me."

"Oh, yes -- I've seen whole families in the same fix."

"Smarty! You think you're some, now, don't you? Oh, what a hat!"

"You can lump that hat if you don't like it. I dare you to knock it off -- and anybody that'll take a dare will suck eggs."

"You're a liar!"

"You're another."

"You're a fighting liar and dasn't take it up."

"Aw -- take a walk!"

"Say -- if you give me much more of your sass I'll take and bounce a rock off'n your head."

"Oh, of course you will."

"Well, I will."

"Well, why don't you do it then? What do you keep saying you will for? Why don't you do it? It's because you're afraid."

"I ain't afraid."

"You are."

"I ain't."

"You are."

Another pause, and more eying and sidling around each other. Presently they were shoulder to shoulder. Tom said:

"Get away from here!"

"Go away yourself!"

"I won't."

"I won't either."

So they stood, each with a foot placed at an angle as a brace, and both shoving with might and main, and glowering at each other with hate. But neither could get an advantage. After struggling till both were hot and flushed, each relaxed his strain with watchful caution, and Tom said:

"You're a coward and a pup. I'll tell my big brother on you, and he can thrash you with his little finger, and I'll make him do it, too."

"What do I care for your big brother? I've got a brother that's bigger than he is -- and what's more, he can throw him over that fence, too." (Both brothers were imaginary.)

"That's a lie."

"Your saying so don't make it so."

Tom drew a line in the dust with his big toe, and said:

"I dare you to step over that, and I'll lick you till you can't stand up. Anybody that'll take a dare will steal sheep."

The new boy stepped over promptly, and said:

"Now you said you'd do it, now let's see you do it."

"Don't you crowd me now; you better look out."

"Well, you said you'd do it -- why don't you do it?"

"By jingo! for two cents I will do it."

The new boy took two broad coppers out of his pocket and held them out with derision. Tom struck them to the ground. In an instant both boys were rolling and tumbling in the dirt, gripped together like cats; and for the space of a minute they tugged and tore at each other's hair and clothes, punched and scratched each other's noses, and covered themselves with dust and glory. Presently the confusion took form and through the fog of battle Tom appeared, seated astride the new boy, and pounding him with his fists.

"Holler 'nuff!" said he.

The boy only struggled to free himself. He was crying -- mainly from rage.

"Holler 'nuff!" -- and the pounding went on.

At last the stranger got out a smothered "'Nuff!" and Tom let him up and said:

"Now that'll learn you. Better look out who you're fooling with next time."

The new boy went off brushing the dust from his clothes, sobbing, snuffling, and occasionally looking back and shaking his head and threatening what he would do to Tom the next time he "caught him out." To which Tom responded with jeers, and started off in high feather, and as soon as his back was turned the new boy snatched up a stone, threw it and hit him between the shoulders and then turned tail and ran like an antelope. Tom chased the traitor home, and thus found out where he lived. He then held a position at the gate for some time, daring the enemy to come outside, but the enemy only made faces at him through the window and declined. At last the enemy's mother appeared, and called Tom a bad, vicious, vulgar child, and ordered him away. So he went away, but he said he "'lowed" to "lay" for that boy.

He got home pretty late, that night, and when he climbed cautiously in at the window he uncovered an ambuscade, in the person of his aunt; and when she saw the state his clothes were in her resolution to turn his Saturday holiday into captivity at hard labor became adamantine in its firmness.

\

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Foreword

1. Critics have long disagreed about exactly what role Jim plays in Huckleberry Finn. Some have claimed, for example, that his purpose is solely to provide Huck with the opportunity for moral growth, while others have argued that he is a surrogate father figure to Huck. What do you think is Jim's role in the novel?

2. The ending of Huckleberry Finn has been the source of endless critical controveryse. Though no less than T.S. Eliot and Lionel Trilling defended the ending on the grounds that it is structurally coherent ("It is right," Eliot stated, "that the mood of the book should bring us back to the beginning"), many critics feel that the return of Tom Sawyer and his elaborate scheme for Jim's escape reduces what had been a serious quest for freedom to a silly farce. Bernard de Voto wrote, "In the whole reach of the English novel there is no more aburpt or more abrupt or chilling descent." How does the ending strike you?

3. The Mississippi can be considered a character in its own right in Huckleberry Finn. Discuss the role of the river in the novel.

4. How do humor and satire function in the book?

5. Critic William Manierre argued in a 1964-65 essay that "Huck's 'moral growth' has...been vastly overestimated," noting for example, that when his conscience begins to give him trouble, he decides he will "do whichever came handiest at the time," and that while Huck can be seen to achieve a kind of moral grandeur when he tears up the note he's written to Miss Watson, that achievement is underminded by his easy acceptance of Tom Sawyer's scheme in the last ten chapters. Do you agree ordisagree?

6. In "The Greatness of Huckleberry Finn," Lionel Trilling stated that the style of the book is "not less than definitive in American literature," and Louis Budd has noted that "today it is standard academic wisdom that Twain's precedent-setting achievement is Huck's language." Discuss the effect of Twain's use of colloquial speech and dialect in the novel.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Critics have long disagreed about exactly what role Jim plays in Huckleberry Finn. Some have claimed, for example, that his purpose is solely to provide Huck with the opportunity for moral growth, while others have argued that he is a surrogate father figure to Huck. What do you think is Jim's role in the novel?

2. The ending of Huckleberry Finn has been the source of endless critical controveryse. Though no less than T. S. Eliot and Lionel Trilling defended the ending on the grounds that it is structurally coherent ("It is right, " Eliot stated, "that the mood of the book should bring us back to the beginning"), many critics feel that the return of Tom Sawyer and his elaborate scheme for Jim's escape reduces what had been a serious quest for freedom to a silly farce. Bernard de Voto wrote, "In the whole reach of the English novel there is no more aburpt or more abrupt or chilling descent." How does the ending strike you?

3. The Mississippi can be considered a character in its own right in Huckleberry Finn. Discuss the role of the river in the novel.

4. How do humor and satire function in the book?

5. Critic William Manierre argued in a 1964-65 essay that "Huck's 'moral growth' has... been vastly overestimated, " noting for example, that when his conscience begins to give him trouble, he decides he will "do whichever came handiest at the time, " and that while Huck can be seen to achieve a kind of moral grandeur when he tears up the note he's written to Miss Watson, that achievement is underminded by his easy acceptance of Tom Sawyer's scheme in the last ten chapters. Do you agree ordisagree?

6. In "The Greatness of Huckleberry Finn, " Lionel Trilling stated that the style of the book is "not less than definitive in American literature, " and Louis Budd has noted that "today it is standard academic wisdom that Twain's precedent-setting achievement is Huck's language." Discuss the effect of Twain's use of colloquial speech and dialect in the novel.

Read More Show Less

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  • Posted May 9, 2012

    A timeless classic!

    Huckleberry Finn is a young boy who has been adopted by Widow Douglas due to difficulties with his drunken father. After becoming acquainted with her strict ways, Huck is kidnapped by his father, wanting Huck's money for alcohol. After spending months in a deserted house in the woods, Huck finally escapes, and decides to run away. On his voyage, he runs into Jim, Widow Douglas's slave. Together, they embark on a journey, filled with both misfortune and adventure. During this extended journey, Huckleberry and Jim endure snake bites, being mixed up in a series of murders, becoming separated from each other multiple times, running into trouble with the King, and much more. Throughout the long nights on the river they spend together, Jim and Huck become the best of friends.
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a timeless classic. Written as a sequel to the book the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, this book provides a second side of the story. Although it is written in a way which is slightly hard to understand, the writing style emphasizes the various personalities of the characters. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a timeless classic.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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