Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835. He trained as a river-boat pilot, but turned to journalism after the Civil War, and published his first short story in 1865. He is also the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Peter Coveney was Senior Lecturer in History at Nottingham University and edited George Eliot's Felix Holt for Penguin Classics. Richard Maxwell is Professor of English at Valparaiso University.
The Mark Twain Project used the second half of the original manuscript of Twain's masterwork (given by Twain to the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library), together with the first half from the first American edition of 1885, for its 1985 edition of the novel. In 1990, however, the first half of the original manuscript was found in the attic of the great-granddaughter of James Gluck, the curator of the Buffalo library. While the recovery of the first half of the manuscript (told in detail in "Note on the Text") is itself an interesting detective story, the upshot of the matter is that the present text represents the whole manuscript as Twain surely intended it before typesetters and proofreaders introduced the errors that we have been reading all these years. Most of those numerous errors are minor (misspellings and punctuation errors), but some are significant (three revised sections of the novel, for example). Few but Twain scholars will appreciate the meticulous editing that has gone into this volume, but those who care will be able to see more clearly than ever how carefully Twain revised the novel into its greatness. Highly recommended for all scholarly libraries. Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Gr 5 Up-The St. Charles Players superbly present the essence of Mark Twain's 1884 classic in this Radio Theatre rendition. With an 18-person cast, they retell the story in a variety of voices, using many of the author's original words as well as adding their own narrative and conversation. This audio version allows youngsters to learn of Huckleberry's trip down the Mississippi on a raft in the company of the (allegedly) runaway slave Jim without bogging them down with hard to understand dialect or offensive words. The style is reminiscent of the Golden Years of Radio drama, with original music and sound effects accompanying the dramatic telling. The aural quality is good, with clear enunciation. Although the action follows the book commendably and includes all the events of major importance, this cannot be used as a read-along version. This is not a drawback, but rather a means of enticing younger students to become acquainted with Twain's work. It would appeal to teachers or librarians who are looking for a lively way to introduce the classics. For older students, also consider Trafalgar Square's three-hour The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Sept. 2000, p. 84).-Joanne K. Hammond, Chambersburg Area Middle School, PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
In this centenary year of the first American edition of Huckleberry Finn, Neider, who has worked long and well in the thickets of Twain scholarship (this is the ninth Twain volume he has edited), offers a most fitting tribute, for which he will be thanked in some quarters, damned in others. Neider's contribution is twofold: he has restored to its rightful place the great rafting chapter, which the author had lifted from the manuscript-in-progress and dropped into Life on the Mississippi, and he has abridged some of the childish larkiness in the portions in which Huck's friend Tom Sawyer intrudes into this novel. For decades, critics have lamented the absence of the ``missing'' chapter and deplored the jarring presence of Tom in episodes that slow the narrative, but not until now has anyone had the temerity to set matters right. In paring back the ``Tom'' chapters (which he fully documents in his lengthy, spirited introduction, with literal line counts of the excised material), Neider has achieved a brisker read. Though there may be some brickbats thrown at him for this ``sacrilege,'' few should object to the belated appearance of the transplanted rafting chapter in the novel in which it clearly belongs. October 25