- Lexile Measure: 650 (What's this?)
- Series: Bantam Classic
- Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Bantam Classics; Reprint edition (March 1, 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553210793
- ISBN-13: 978-0553212266
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5,396 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bantam Classic) Reprint Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. It's the best book we've had." --Ernest Hemingway
From the Publisher
Hilariously picaresque, epic in scope, alive with the poetry and vigor of the American people, Mark Twain's story about a young boy and his journey down the Mississippi was the first great novel to speak in a truly American voice. Influencing subsequent generations of writers -- from Sherwood Anderson to Twain's fellow Missourian, T.S. Eliot, from Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner to J.D. Salinger -- Huckleberry Finn, like the river which flows through its pages, is one of the great sources which nourished and still nourishes the literature of America.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
It is also a profoundly dangerous book -- but that may be its greatest strength. Although I hate censorship of any kind, I almost understand why the book is so often banned in schools. It is not just the frequent occurrence of the "n-word," but the attitude that lies beneath it. Take the passage where Tom looks at the escaped slave Jim drifting downriver away from his scattered family: "When I waked up just at daybreak he was sitting there with his head down betwixt his knees, moaning and mourning to himself. I didn't take notice nor let on. I knowed what it was about. He was thinking about his wife and his children, away up yonder, and he was low and homesick; because he hadn't ever been away from home before in his life; and I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their'n. It don't seem natural, but I reckon it's so."
Is this last sentence tongue-in-cheek or not? Modern readers start with the assumption that of course black people have just as much capacity for familial affection as whites, and therefore praise Twain for his marvelous subtlety in having his hero be surprised by this. But this kind of thing happens again and again. I am slightly worried that we may be taking Twain too far out of his historical era by adopting him as a paid-up member of our own. One is forced to conclude that Twain did indeed think that blacks and whites had different capacities, just that the difference was less absolute than his more bigoted countryfolk assumed. This book about a child requires first-rate teaching if it is to be understood by children. Its subject -- individual freedom -- is the central tenet of American philosophy, yet the way it is treated is so ironic, so insidious, so incomplete that it defies both simplistic thinking and simple censorship.
Meanwhile, there are the many joys of the book itself. It begins in the childhood world of TOM SAWYER, as when Tom enrolls Huck in a band of boy desperadoes pledged to rob and kill. But one of the boys, Ben Rogers, "said he couldn't get out much, only Sundays, and so he wanted to begin next Sunday; but all the boys said it would be wicked to do it on Sunday, and that settled the thing." Yet the violence becomes real when Huck falls back into the hands of his drunken father who, in a terrible antithesis to the American Dream, makes him stop his schooling and beats him for trying to better himself. Huck goes along with this at first, but when he fakes his own murder and escapes by raft, the entire tone of the novel changes. The passage about him lying down that night in the drifting canoe and hearing voices carrying over the water has the cleansing shock of personal experience. Just as he had done in the non-fiction LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI, Twain takes us into that place and time with an immediacy that cannot be matched. Some of his set-pieces, such as visits to a revival meeting and a country circus, also show the brilliance of his observation and powers of description.
But it is its moral content that gives the novel its substance. When Huck links up with Jim, the runaway slave from his home town, the book develops strong echoes of ROBINSON CRUSOE. Twain like Defoe uses the situation to reexamine the ethical assumptions that are at the basis of society. Even so, much of it is tongue-in-cheek, as in the line about the wickedness of murder on a Sunday quoted above. There is a wonderful section when Huck and Jim debate the difference between "borrowing" and "stealing" and solve it by resolving not to "borrow" the things they don't really want. There is a marvelous passage in which Jim, born into a situation where human life is alas disposable, totally fails to understand the story of King Solomon and the baby. But behind it all is the moral issue of whether Huck, in enabling Jim to escape, is striking a blow for humanity or robbing the good people who brought him up. Written after emancipation, but set in a period some decades before, the novel manages to set the old morality against the new in a way that permits no easy answers. Difficult, even dangerous as I say, but nonetheless amazing.
What makes me withhold the fifth star are the book's failings as a novel. It is strongest in its middle third, which is everything that can be claimed of it. But it fades out towards the end. Jim is captured and locked up. Huck has plans to rescue him. But Tom Sawyer reappears and turns Huck's straightforward stratagem into a complex adventure from Dumas or Victor Hugo. We are back to the band of desperadoes from the opening. The situation is finessed at the end, but the return to childishness is regrettable. In this milestone of America's slow coming of age, Huck Finn does indeed grow up; Tom Sawyer probably never will.
The charge of racism stems from the liberal use of the N word in describing Jim. Some black parents and students have charged that the book is humiliating and demeaning to African-Americans and therefore is unfit to be taught in school. If there has been a racist backlash in the classroom, I think it is the fault of the readers rather than the book.
"Huckleberry Finn" is set in Missouri in the 1830's and it is true to its time. The narrator is a 13 year old, semi-literate boy who refers to blacks by the N-word because he has never heard them called anything else. He's been brought up to see blacks as slaves, as property, as something less than human. He gets to know Jim on their flight to freedom (Jim escaping slavery and Huck escaping his drunken, abusive father), and is transformed. Huck realizes that Jim is just as human as he is, a loving father who misses his children, a warm, sensitive, generous, compassionate individual. Huck's epiphany arrives when he has to make a decision whether or not to rescue Jim when he is captured and held for return to slavery. In the culture he was born into, stealing a slave is the lowest of crimes and the perpetrator is condemned to eternal damnation. By his decision to risk hell to save Jim, he saves his own soul. Huck has risen above his upbringing to see Jim as a friend, a man, and a fellow human being.
Another charge of racism is based on Twain's supposed stereotyping of Jim. As portrayed by Twain, Jim is hardly the ignorant, shuffling Uncle Tom that was so prevalent in "Gone With the Wind" (a book that abundantly deserves the charge of racism). Jim may be uneducated, but he is nobody's fool; and his dignity and nobility in the face of adversity is evident throughout the book.
So -- is "Huckleberry Finn" a racist book? No. It's of its time and for its time and ours as well, portraying a black man with sensitivity, dignity, and sympathy. If shallow, ignorant readers see Jim as a caricature and an object of derision, that's their problem. Hopefully they may mature enough in their lifetime to appreciate this book as one of the greatest classics of American literature.
And for those who might be wondering -- this reviewer is black.