"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 has spawned volumes of scholarly exegesis and interpretative theories, it is at heart a compelling adventure story. Huck, in flight from his murderous father, and Nigger Jim, in flight from slavery, pilot their raft thrillingly through treacherous waters, surviving a crash with a steamboat, betrayal by rogues, and the final threat from the bourgeoisie. Informing all this is the presence of the River, described in palpable detail by Mark Twain, the former steamboat pilot, who transforms it into a richly metaphoric entity. Twain's other great innovation was the language of the book itself, which is expressive in a completely original way. "The invention of this language, with all its implications, gave a new dimension to our literature," Robert Penn Warren noted. "It is a language capable of poetry."
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.