ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED
BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP
Mark Twain's classic adventure story of life on the Mississippi.
EACH ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES:
A concise introduction that gives readers important background information
A chronology of the author's life and work
A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context
An outline of key themes and plot points to help readers form their own interpretations
Detailed explanatory notes
Critical analysis, including contemporary and modern perspectives on the work
Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction
A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience
Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world's finest books to their full potential.
SERIES EDITED BY CYNTHIA BRANTLEY JOHNSON
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April 30, 2004
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Excerpt from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
A Novel of Troubling Greatness
Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison are just a few of the illustrious American writers and critics who have praised Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) as one of the greatest -- if not the greatest -- American novel ever written. Generations of Huck fans are inclined to agree. Huckleberry Finn offers so much on so many levels -- rollicking physical comedy, searing social criticism, dazzingly beautiful descriptive passages -- it has delighted, inspired, and intrigued both academic and general readers alike for more than one hundred years.
The book is undeniably funny. At the simplest level, it is a story about an uneducated teenager, Huck, and a fugitive slave, Jim, trying to escape their oppressors by heading down the Mississippi River together on a raft. The views on life, morality, fun, and friendship Huck and Jim share with us as they travel are often hilarious. But Twain's comedy had a tragic side. His humor stemmed from his highly critical view of humanity. Throughout the book, mingled with and even underlying the humor, is a dark vision of the corruption and cruelty of humankind. Twain gives particular attention to the institution of slavery and the effects of religious hypocrisy.
Praise for Huckleberry Finn has hardly been unanimous, however. From the moment it was published, the book was attacked by critics concerned about its potentially destructive power. Early reviewers considered the book coarse and morally questionable. More recent readers have been outraged by Twain's use of racial epithets. Such concerns have prompted communities across the United States to ban the book multiple times over the years and caused many teachers to avoid using the book in their classes for fear of upsetting their students.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is certainly not a simple adventure story. It is a tragicomic book that delves deeply into several complicated, emotionally charged subjects. It is also the finest book written by one of America's most original authors. Twain's insights into human nature are profound and his writing is unparalleled. Readers who are willing to be amused, saddened, enchanted, disgusted, and even offended -- all within the space of a few chapters -- will find themselves amply rewarded by taking a trip down the river with Huck and Jim.