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Barbara Schmidt <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 9 Sep 2003 15:56:27 -0500
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Twain, Mark. _The Works of Mark Twain. Volume 8. Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn_. Edited by Victor Fischer and Lin Salamo with the late Walter Blair.
University of California Press, 2003. Pp.1204. Cloth 6 x 9". $75.00. ISBN

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Reviewed for the Mark Twain Forum by:
Barbara Schmidt

Copyright (c) 2003 Mark Twain Forum. This review may not be published or
redistributed in any medium without permission.

The 2003 University of California Press edition of _Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn_ is the eighth volume in _The Works of Mark Twain_ series.
It supersedes the 1988 critical edition, which was published prior to the
1991 discovery of the first half of the book's original manuscript. The
2001 _Mark Twain Library_ edition, intended for general readers, was drawn
from this more comprehensive edition. The _Library_ edition was reviewed on
the Mark Twain Forum in May 2002. That review is available online at

The discovery of the first half of the handwritten manuscript of
_Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_ provided a wealth of insight into how and
when Mark Twain wrote, revised and perfected his literary masterpiece. It
is a credit to all involved--the heirs of James Fraser Gluck, the man who
had possession of the manuscript at the time of his death in 1897; the
Buffalo and Erie County Library, which now owns both halves of the
manuscript; and the Mark Twain Project, which had exclusive publication
rights to previously unpublished works--that a legal agreement was reached
regarding ownership. The agreement prevented the sale of the manuscript to
rare book dealers who, according to rumors, were planning to pool $1.5
million dollars for purchase, break the manuscript apart and resell
individual pages. If that had happened, the manuscript would have been
scattered and significant literary history lost. With the recovery of 664
manuscript pages, the total number increased from 697 to 1,361 pages. In
the 1985 _Library_ edition and the 1988 _Works_ edition, the editors at the
Mark Twain Papers identified more than 2,600 variants--discrepancies in
words, spelling, punctuation, emphasis, and capitalization between the
first edition of _Huckleberry Finn_ published in 1885 and Twain's
manuscript. The editors attributed approximately 1,500 of these
discrepancies to revisions that were made by Twain. Today, approximately
5,800 variants can be found and only about 3,600 are attributed to the

The purpose of any authoritative and "critical text" edition of a book is
to establish a text that reflects the author's intentions as precisely as
possible and "place before the reader not only the text itself but the
evidence and reasoning used by the editor to establish it" (p. 775-6). With
painstaking analysis and research, the editors have rejected variations and
corruptions attributed to typists, proofreaders, and other hands involved
in the publication process. They have restored words and passages
inadvertently omitted from the first edition. The numbers of primary
documents involved in the first publication make the task monumental. Among
these are the complete manuscript, three separate typescripts of the
manuscript that Twain revised heavily and which have never been found; the
first edition of _Life on the Mississippi_ which contains the "raftsmen"
passage originally intended for _Huckleberry Finn_ and is now considered an
integral part of the book; proof sheets for both books which contained
corrections made by Twain; the salesmen's prospectus, which was approved by
Twain; and the _Century Magazine_ which printed excerpts of _Huckleberry
Finn_. Weighing and comparing all available evidence, the editors have
established the most authoritative text to date.

A reader needs to look no further than Twain's "Notice" at the beginning of
the book to find changes. The new version reads, "Persons attempting to
find a Motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to
find a Moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a Plot in
it will be shot."  The words "Motive," "Moral," and "Plot" are all
capitalized for the first time. A subtle, yet distinctive, emphasis on the
reading of those words--as Twain intended. However, the phrase, "persons
attempting to find a Moral in it will be banished" does not appear in the
handwritten manuscript. The variation is deemed to be a significant one
that would have been made only by Twain and was evidently made on the
edited typescript which is now lost.

Careful examination of inks and papers used in the manuscripts reveal that
Twain wrote _Huckleberry Finn_ in three distinct time periods in 1876,
1880, and 1883. By establishing a definite time frame for each stage of the
writing and specific chapters, scholars and researchers can more accurately
determine the influences on Twain's composition during each time period.

Examination of the manuscript shows that perfecting written dialect did not
come easily for Twain. He constantly revised and corrected syllables,
sounds, and phrasing. He attempted to downgrade his own proper and literary
words "as if" to "like"--a word that Twain once chastised his brother Orion
for using, calling it a "wretched Missourianism" (_Mark Twain's Letters,
1876-1880, An Electronic Edition, Volume 3: 1878_). In other instances, he
attempted to refine his wording. Phrases like "sugar teat" (p. 863) and
"bowel trouble" (p. 894) appear in the handwritten manuscript but are
emended in the first edition--another example of changes that were
evidently made on the lost typescripts. It is also important to note that
although William Dean Howells did read the typescripts and provide comment,
such revisions are attributed only to Twain.

Along with the authoritative text, annotations, glossary, samples of
revised and deleted passages from the manuscript, and a selection of
manuscript facsimiles (items that also appeared in the 2001 _Library_
edition), the 2003 _Works_ edition contains seven appendixes which provide
additional items essential to the study of the book's history and
composition. Among these are Twain's working notes. These were also
featured in the 1988 edition, but the sequence and chronology of the notes,
which were originally identified by Bernard DeVoto, have been revised.
Another appendix is devoted to all of Mark Twain's marginal working
notes--notes appearing on the manuscript pages but not considered passages
within the manuscript itself.

In 1884-1885 and 1895-1896, Twain engaged in speaking tours giving readings
from _Huckleberry Finn_. His lecture readings did not always match the
printed text of the book. Two appendixes provide photocopy facsimiles of
the pages Twain marked and revised for oral presentation. One passage from
his book reads, "She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn't do
nothing but sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up." His handwritten
revision of the passage reads, "She put me in them new clothes again, &
they make you feel all cramped up & uncomfortable, like a bee that's busted
through a spider's web & wisht he'd gone around" (p. 624). One might think
that Twain's lecture notes could be used to establish his original
intentions when he was writing the novel. However, the editors reject that
theory and feel that such revisions were intended only for oral

Victor Fischer and Lin Salamo's 130-page "Introduction" is placed after the
appendix section. It is much more than an introduction to the editorial
methods used to establish an authoritative text. It is a comprehensive
discussion of all facets of the writing, editing, production, illustrating,
controversies, early dramatizations, and enduring legacy of _Huckleberry
Finn_. This section draws from Twain's letters as well as collateral
correspondence among Twain's friends and associates. Some of the
correspondence has been previously available only on the microfilm editions
of Twain's correspondence and is now more widely accessible in this _Works_
edition. Twain's original dedication, which was never printed in any
edition of the novel until it was inserted in the "Foreword" to the 2001
_Library_ edition, is accompanied by the information that it was tipped
into the first bound copy of _Huckleberry Finn_ which is hand dated
November 6, 1884 by publisher Charles Webster--a landmark date in the
book's production.

Illustrator Edward Kemble drew at least 175 illustrations for the first
edition of _Huckleberry Finn_. The locations of only forty-one of the
original illustrations are known at this time. Kemble's illustrations
played a prominent role in the novel. The editors make clear that Twain did
give Kemble a great deal of free rein in deciding what to illustrate and
suggesting captions for illustrations. However, Twain did approve, reject,
and criticize the illustrator's work. For example, he refused to allow
publication of the drawing of "the lecherous old rascal kissing the girl at
the campmeeting"(p. 720). Yet, an illustration depicting Jim telling his
ghost story, a passage that was later eliminated from the text, was
included. It is worth noting that the editors do not reinstate the passage
popularly known as "Jim's Ghost Story" into the text. It is, instead,
presented in an appendix as a passage that Twain intentionally deleted from
the final text.

Prior to publication of the book, _Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine_
published three excerpts of _Huckleberry Finn_ in the December 1884,
January 1885, and February 1885 issues. The editors provide insight into
the business decisions and editorial decisions involved in arranging and
editing the text for magazine publication. Publication in the _Century_
generated one of the earliest documented protests made against the book.
Editor Richard Watson Gilder provided Twain a copy of the letter, but not
before removing the writer's signature. The letter, written by a school
superintendent from South Pueblo, Colorado, called _Huckleberry Finn_
"atrocious, and destitute of a single redeeming quality" (p. 756). A
section of the Introduction titled "Readers, Reviewers, and Controversy:
1884 to the Present" provides a wealth of information on other initial
reactions to the book along with some of the earliest contemporary reviews.
Letters Twain wrote in response to the novel's controversy are quoted at

The final sections of the _Works_ edition contains discussions and
facsimiles illustrating how the editors made decisions in establishing
certain passages; complete lists of emendations as they are found across
different primary versions of the text; and a section on alterations Twain
made in his manuscript. These particular sections of the book will be
especially helpful if used in conjunction with _"Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn": The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library CD-ROM Edition_
(available only in limited distribution at this time) which contains
full-color photo reproductions of each of Twain's manuscript pages.

Twain's novel continues to be a landmark in American literature. The
reference and bibliography section of the 2003 _Works_ edition has almost
doubled in size when compared to the 1988 edition. It is a testament to the
unabated research, writing, and interest that Mark Twain and _Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn_ continue to generate. It also underscores the need for
accuracy the editors at the Mark Twain Papers and the University of
California editions continue to provide.

For those readers who are trying to decide which edition is best suited to
their needs, a comparison chart of the 2001 _Library_ edition,  2003
_Works_ edition, and the 1988 _Works_ edition will be placed online in
conjunction with this review at: