One of the greatest — and one of the most controversial — novels in American history, complete with the illustrations from the original 1884 printing! What begins as a sequel to Mark Twain's incredibly popular The Adventures of Tom Sawyer grows into an ambitious, sprawling, funny, and uniquely American epic. Huck Finn is a mischievous boy, caught between a confining life with his legal guardian and an abusive life under his drunkard father. So naturally, he fakes his own death, teams up with a runaway slave named Jim, and takes off on a raft down the Mississippi River. The duo's ensuing adventures offer a chance for Twain to satirize the bygone world of the antebellum South, most notably taking a sometimes scathing, sometimes troubling, look at racism. The book remains one of the most essential, and one of the most entertaining, works in American literature.
In this centenary year of the first American edition of Huckleberry Finn, Neider, who has worked long and well in the thickets of Twain scholarship (this is the ninth Twain volume he has edited), offers a most fitting tribute, for which he will be thanked in some quarters, damned in others. Neider's contribution is twofold: he has restored to its rightful place the great rafting chapter, which the author had lifted from the manuscript-in-progress and dropped into Life on the Mississippi, and he has abridged some of the childish larkiness in the portions in which Huck's friend Tom Sawyer intrudes into this novel. For decades, critics have lamented the absence of the "missing'' chapter and deplored the jarring presence of Tom in episodes that slow the narrative, but not until now has anyone had the temerity to set matters right. In paring back the ``Tom'' chapters (which he fully documents in his lengthy, spirited introduction, with literal line counts of the excised material), Neider has achieved a brisker read. Though there may be some brickbats thrown at him for this ``sacrilege,'' few should object to the belated appearance of the transplanted rafting chapter in the novel in which it clearly belongs. October 25