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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (96 Edition)


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Reading Group Guide

1. Critics have long disagreed about exactly what role Jim plays in Huckleberry Finn. Some have claimed, for example, that his purpose is solely to provide Huck with the opportunity for moral growth, while others have argued that he is a surrogate father figure to Huck. What do you think is Jim's role in the novel?

2. The ending of Huckleberry Finn has been the source of endless critical controveryse. Though no less than T.S. Eliot and Lionel Trilling defended the ending on the grounds that it is structurally coherent ("It is right," Eliot stated, "that the mood of the book should bring us back to the beginning"), many critics feel that the return of Tom Sawyer and his elaborate scheme for Jim's escape reduces what had been a serious quest for freedom to a silly farce. Bernard de Voto wrote, "In the whole reach of the English novel there is no more aburpt or more abrupt or chilling descent." How does the ending strike you?

3. The Mississippi can be considered a character in its own right in Huckleberry Finn. Discuss the role of the river in the novel.

4. How do humor and satire function in the book?

5. Critic William Manierre argued in a 1964-65 essay that "Huck's 'moral growth' has...been vastly overestimated," noting for example, that when his conscience begins to give him trouble, he decides he will "do whichever came handiest at the time," and that while Huck can be seen to achieve a kind of moral grandeur when he tears up the note he's written to Miss Watson, that achievement is underminded by his easy acceptance of Tom Sawyer's scheme in the last ten chapters. Do you agree or disagree?

6. In "The Greatness of Huckleberry Finn," Lionel Trilling stated that the style of the book is "not less than definitive in American literature," and Louis Budd has noted that "today it is standard academic wisdom that Twain's precedent-setting achievement is Huck's language." Discuss the effect of Twain's use of colloquial speech and dialect in the novel.

Product Details

Kaplan, Justin
Kaplan, Justin
Twain, Mark
Kaplan, Justin
Ballantine Books
New York :
Humorous Stories
Novels and novellas
American fiction (fictional works by one author)
Adventure stories
Mississippi river
Mississippi River Fiction.
Finn, Huckleberry
American fiction (fictional works by one auth
Finn, huckleberry (fictitious character)
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.28x5.58x1.16 in. .91 lbs.

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (96 Edition) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 448 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780449912720 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The recent discovery of the first half of Mark Twain's manuscript of ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, long thought lost, was a monumental literary coup and an international news story. This landmark edition, which contains for the first time additional episodes and variations from the first half of the handwritten manuscript, as well as facsimile reproductions of thirty manuscript pages, will now become the definitive version of this essential American classic.

Here is a darker, more satirical, more confrontational HUCKLEBERRY FINN, one that includes more provocative glimpses of racism and violence than Mark Twain eventually thought prudent for publication. This edition presents not only the book that has delighted and bedeviled readers for more than a century, but also the startling book behind the book.

As prize-winning Mark Twain biographer Justin Kaplan writes in his introduction, "We see at work a writer with a near-perfect ear for the right word and the right shading of idiom as he maneuvers between his purpose as a...literary artist and the diplomatic or expedient concessions he sometimes felt he had to make to the conventional taste of his audience and the demands of the book business".

"Synopsis" by , "A GOLD MINE FOR SCHOLARS."

*Deidre Carmody

The New York Times

Now, in this extraordinary literary discovery, the original first half of Mark Twain's American masterpiece is available for the first time ever to a general readership. Lost for more than a century, the passages reinstated in this edition reveal a novel even more controversial than the version Twain published in 1885, and provide an invaluable insight into his creative process.

The changes that Mark Twain made indicate that he frequently checked his impulse to write an even darker, more confrontational work than the book he finally published. Even in its smallest variations, the original manuscript demonstrates the skill, the restraint, and the constraints that affected Mark Twain's thinking. This edition, then, not only presents the Huckleberry Finn that has delighted and provoked readers everywhere for more than a century, but also brings forward the original book behind the book.

A breakthrough of unparalleled impact, this comprehensive edition of an American classic is the final rebuttal in the tireless debate of "what Mark Twain really meant."

"[A] masterly restoration . . . I wish this new version of Huckleberry Finn would be distributed to all the nation's classrooms as the basic text and lead to a badly needed reconsideration of the questions it raises."

*James A. McPherson

Chicago Tribune

"Thoughtfully respects Twain's intentions."

*Gary Lee Stronum

The Cleveland Plain Dealer

With a foreword and addendum by Victor Doyno

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