“I do not wish any reward but to know I have done the right thing": First Edition of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer’s Comrade).
Mark Twain) Clemens, Samuel L.$7,200.00
Item Number: 85975
New York: Charles L. Webster and Company, 1885.
First edition of Twain’s masterpiece, with the first state of the frontispiece portrait. Octavo, original publisher’s decorated green cloth gilt to the spine and front panel. With frontispiece portrait of Twain inserted at front (with the imprint of the Heliotype Printing Co., but the cloth is not visible). This example exhibits the following issue points: title leaf is conjugate. Copyright notice dated 1884; the illustration captioned “Him and another Man” [p.13] listed as p.88 (first state); 11th line from bottom of p.57 reads “…with the was…” (first state); p. 283 is an integral leaf with the corrected engraving; the final 5 in the numeration of page 155 is larger than the first and slightly below the others; leaf 23-8 is present as a blank; first state of the frontispiece portrait (imprint of Heliotype with tablecloth visible). In near fine condition with light toning to the extremities. A very bright example.
Twain initially conceived of the work as a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that would follow Huckleberry Finn through adulthood. Beginning with a few pages he had removed from the earlier novel, Twain began work on a manuscript he originally titled Huckleberry Finn's Autobiography. Twain worked on the manuscript off and on for the next several years, ultimately abandoning his original plan of following Huck's development into adulthood. He appeared to have lost interest in the manuscript while it was in progress, and set it aside for several years. After making a trip down the Hudson River, Twain returned to his work on the novel. Upon completion, the novel's title closely paralleled its predecessor's: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade). Twain composed the story in pen on notepaper between 1876 and 1883. Paul Needham, stated, "What you see is [Clemens'] attempt to move away from pure literary writing to dialect writing." For example, Twain revised the opening line of Huck Finn three times. He initially wrote, "You will not know about me", which he changed to, "You do not know about me", before settling on the final version, "You don't know about me, without you have read a book by the name of 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer'; but that ain't no matter." The revisions also show how Twain reworked his material to strengthen the characters of Huck and Jim, as well as his sensitivity to the then-current debate over literacy and voting. Ernest Hemingway once declared about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, "All modern literature comes from one book by Mark Twain. It’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing since."