Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Third Edition) (Norton Critical Editions)

September 5, 2016 - Comment

This perennially popular Norton Critical Edition reprints for the first time the definitive Iowa-California text of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, complete with all original illustrations by Edward Windsor Kemble and John Harley. The text is accompanied by explanatory annotations. “Contexts and Sources” provides readers with a rich selection of documents related to the historical background,

This perennially popular Norton Critical Edition reprints for the first time the definitive Iowa-California text of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, complete with all original illustrations by Edward Windsor Kemble and John Harley. The text is accompanied by explanatory annotations.

“Contexts and Sources” provides readers with a rich selection of documents related to the historical background, language, composition, sale, reception, and newly discovered first half of the manuscript of Mark Twain’s greatest work. Included are letters on the writing of the novel, excerpts from the author’s autobiography, samples of bad poetry that inspired his satire (including an effort by young Sam Clemens himself), a section on the censorship of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by schools and libraries over a hundred-year period, and commentary by David Carkeet on dialects of the book and by Earl F. Briden on its “racist” illustrations. In addition, this section reprints the full texts of both “Sociable Jimmy,” upon which is based the controversial theory that Huck speaks in a “black voice,” and “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word As I Heard It,” the first significant attempt by Mark Twain to capture the speech of an African American in print.

“Criticism” of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is divided into “Early Responses” (including the first negative review) and “Modern Views” by Victor A. Doyno, T. S. Eliot, Jane Smiley, David L. Smith, Shelley Fisher Fishkin (the “black voice” thesis), James R. Kincaid (a rebuttal of Fishkin), and David R. Sewell. Also included is Toni Morrison’s moving personal “Introduction” to the troubling experience of reading and re-reading Mark Twain’s masterpiece.

“A Chronology and Selected Bibliography” are also included.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.