Mark Twain's classic novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
, tells the story of a teenaged misfit who finds himself floating on a raft down the Mississippi River with an escaping slave, Jim. In the course of their perilous journey, Huck and Jim meet adventure, danger, and a cast of characters who are sometimes menacing and often hilarious.
Though some of the situations in Huckleberry Finn are funny in themselves (the cockeyed Shakespeare production in Chapter 21 leaps instantly to mind), this book's humor is found mostly in Huck's unique worldview and his way of expressing himself. Describing his brief sojourn with the Widow Douglas after she adopts him, Huck says: "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." Underlying Twain's good humor is a dark subcurrent of Antebellum cruelty and injustice that makes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a frequently funny book with a serious message.
A seminal work of American literature that still commands deep praise and elicits controversy, The 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 to be 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 fuller 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.