First Edition Of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Bound in Cosway Style Binding By Bayntun-Riviere
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Mark Twain) Clemens, Samuel L.$10,000.00
Item Number: 18030
New York: Charles L. Webster and Company, 1885.
First edition, first issue of Mark Twain’s masterpiece. Bound in contemporary full blue morocco by Bayntun Riviere, Cosway-style binding with Mark Twain portrait medallion under glass, fleuron cornerpiece designs within gilt frames, raised bands, gilt decor to the spine, front and rear panels, all edges gilt, front cover and spine faded slightly, front joint repaired, wide gilt turn-ins, silk moiré endpapers. An exceptional example. Subscribers who had already purchased Tom Sawyer, and wanted a binding to match, were invited to request a blue cloth binding on Huckleberry Finn instead of the publisher’s green. This is one of those blue bindings—twenty times more rare than the green. This copy has all of the commonly identified first issue points (copies were assembled haphazardly by the printer and there is yet to be agreement among bibliographers as to the priority of many points). First issue points include page  with “Decided”; p. , illustration caption incorrect and p. 57 (“with the was”), p. 155 (final 5 absent), all first states; and p. 283 state 4. BAL 3415; Peter Parley to Penrod, pp. 75-76; MacDonnell, Firsts, vol. 8, no. 7/8, 1998, p. 31.
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."