New York: Charles Webster and Company, 1885. First American edition. Original green publisher's cloth binding stamped in gilt and black. Spine ends slightly frayed, and some rubbing to rear board, else a lovely and unrestored copy, housed in a custom morocco solander box. Contains the three first printing points: "Huck Decided" on p. 9; "Him and another Man" listed on p. 88; and "with the was" on p. 57. Photogravure frontispiece of Karl Gerhardt's portrait bust of Clemens, illustrations after E. W. Kemble in the text throughout. The present copy bears an exceptional association, being a publisher's presentation copy inscribed by Charles Webster to his cousin on the front endpaper: "To Miss Ella Moffett with the compliments of her cousin the publisher of the book. New York, March 19th 1885." Indeed, the Moffett family provided a connection between Webster and Twain that extended beyond the production of this American classic; for Ella was the cousin of Webster's wife Annie Moffett, who was herself Twain's niece.
Recounting the adventures of Huckleberry Finn as he flees his own abusive father and aids Jim in his escape from slavery, Twain's novel has been praised for its "distinctly American voice," putting at its center two common people who find an uncommon friendship. "Today perhaps the novel’s greatest significance lies in its conception of childhood, as a time of risk, discovery, and adventure. Huck is no innocent: He lies, steals, smokes, swears, and skips school. He accepts no authority, not from his father or the Widow Douglas or anyone else. And it is the twin images of a perilous, harrowing odyssey of adventure and perfect freedom from all restraints that so many readers find entrancing" (Mintz). A metaphor for a young and rebellious nation, as well as its individualist inhabitants, Huckleberry Finn defies genre by being simultaneously an adventure story, a road novel, a coming of age tale, an expression of nostalgia for the expansive natural spaces lost to industrialization, and an exploration of race and class. Listed on the American Scholar 100 Best American Novels and one of the 100 Best Novels Written in English.
BAL 3415. MacDonnell, 31. (Item #3987)