Introduction by George Saunders
Commentary by Thomas Perry Sergeant, Bernard DeVoto, Clifton Fadiman, T. S. Eliot, and Leo Marx
“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn,” Ernest Hemingway wrote. “It’s the best book we’ve had.” A complex masterpiece that spawned controversy right from the start (it was banished from the Concord library shelves in 1885), it is at heart a compelling adventure story. Huck, in flight from his murderous father, and Jim, in flight from slavery, pilot their raft through treacherous waters, surviving a crash with a steamboat and betrayal by rogues. As Norman Mailer has said, “The mark of how good Huckleberry Finn has to be is that one can compare it to a number of our best modern American novels and it stands up page for page.”
A seminal work of American Literature that still commands deep praise and still elicits controversy, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is essential to the understanding of the American soul. The recent discovery of the first half of Twain's manuscript, long thought lost, made front-page news. And this unprecedented edition, which contains for the first time omitted episodes and other variations present in the first half of the handwritten manuscript, as well as facsimile reproductions of thirty manuscript pages, is indispensable to a full understanding of the novel. The changes, deletions, and additions made in the first half of the manuscript indicate that Mark Twain frequently checked his impulse to write an even darker, more confrontational book than the one he finally published.