"All modern American literature comes from one book called Huckleberry Finn," declared Ernest Hemingway. "There was nothing before. There has been nothing good since."
Yet even from the time of its first publication in 1885, Mark Twain's masterpiece has been one of the most celebrated and controversial books ever published in America. No other story so central to our American identity has been so loved and so reviled as Huck Finn's autobiography. Michael Patrick Hearn, author of the national bestseller The Annotated Wizard of Oz, has done equal justice to this great American novel.
A Twain literary sleuth and an authority on children's literature, he considers all the literary, social, historical, and autobiographical aspects of Twain's classic tale of Huck and Jim's trip down the mighty Mississippi. In lively and fascinating annotations, Hearn's notes draw on everything from letters, manuscripts, and contemporary newspapers to the author's own frequent revisions and notes, various critical responses to the publication, and much previously unpublished material.
The substantial introduction is, in essence, a mini-biography of a book and a man whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), and it recounts the novel's remarkably prickly history, resulting in it being banned perhaps more than any other work in American history.
In this new edition, the characters of Hannibal, Missouri, come vividly alive, as if Hearn was steering the raft itself. We encounter, among others, the kind Widow Douglas; the dreaded Miss Watson; the enlightened runaway slave Jim, whom Huck meets on Jackson's Island; an endless parade of bandits, slaveowners, and sheer opportunists; as well as Tom Sawyer and Aunt Sally, whose desire to adopt and "sivilize" Huck propels him to flee to the American West. Likewise, the Mississippi River "emerges as a living force regardless of the vain attempts of men to tame it."
Hearn, by illustrating literary and historical themes that we never knew before, demonstrates that Huckleberry Finn did more than merely redefine the "bad-boy's book"; it galvanized and transformed world literature. This handsomely designed volume, crafted by award-winning book designer Jo Anne Metsch, presents the novel as Mark Twain wrote it, illustrated with all 175 original illustrations by E. W. Kemble in sepia. These are supplemented by rare photographs, drawings, prints, cartoons, maps, the suppressed "obscene" plate, and other Kemble designs, some previously unpublished?ll of which are wonderfully integrated with the text to bring out the intricacies of Twain's enchanting work.
The Annotated Huckleberry Finn is a landmark edition of an American classic that will further insure Twain's importance for generations to come.