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Mark Twain And The Lost Manuscript Of The Adventures Of Huckl Essay, Research Paper


Thesis Statement: An original draft of Mark Twain?s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn exists containing material excluded from the first printing of the book.

I. Twain?s biographical information

A. Childhood

B. Education

C. Professional life

1. Jobs

2. Literary works

3. Financial conditions

D. Personal life

1. Life style

2. Family life

II. Original manuscript of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

A. General information

1. Discovery information

2. How the manuscript was lost

B. Legal battle for printing rights

C. Difference from the first publishing

III. Conclusion

Mark Twain and the Lost Manuscript of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

On November 30, 1835, Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in the town of Florida, Missouri. He had four siblings, three were older than him and one was younger. When Clemens was four, his family moved to the town of Hannibal, Missouri. Hannibal was a town located on the Mississippi river and would later become the setting for most of his stories (?Twain?). In 1847, when Clemens was twelve his father died. Clemens grew up in an educated family (Works of Twain: Biographical Sketch). At age twelve he was apprenticed to a printer and at age sixteen he worked under his brother, Orion who was a newspaper publisher in Hannibal. Clemens made an early attempt at writing by sending comical travel letters to the Keokuk Saturday Post in Iowa under the pen name Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass. These letters contained purposely inserted errors typical of Clemen?s later work. When he was twenty-two he fulfilled a childhood dream by becoming apprenticed to a riverboat pilot named, Horace Bixby. After his apprenticeship, he worked as a river boat pilot for four years. The Civil War stopped riverboat traffic in 1861. Clemens was out of work for several weeks before he traveled with his brother Orion to Nevada. Orion had aspirations of becoming Territorial Secretary of Nevada. Clemens became a reporter and later a feature editor for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, a Nevada newspaper. During his reporting of the Nevada Constitutional Convention, Samuel Langhorne Clemens officially adopted for himself the pen name ?Mark Twain? (Works of Twain: Brief Account). Clemens got the name from a river term


which means two fathoms, or twelve feet of water depth (?Twain?). ?The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaverous County? the first writing of Twain was published in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865 and won him almost instant recognition (Works of Twain: Brief Account). That same year he was sent to Hawaii as a roving reporter, or mobile reporter, but returned to the mainland shortly after and became a lecturer. In 1869, Twain made a lecture tour of the Mediterranean and the Holy Land. While he was on tour he sent letters back to America that were later published as The Innocents Abroad (Works of Twain: Brief Account). In 1870, William Dean Howells, editor of the Atlantic Monthly and a highly respected novelist, became his close friend and literary advisor. Twain purchased a publishing firm in Hartford, Connecticut that went insolvent in 1894. By this time Twain was having financial difficulties due to high living and failed investments such as the printing firm and a typesetting machine that he spent a fortune promoting (?Twain?). In 1894 and 1896, Twain wrote two new sequels to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but neither of these were successful. In another attempt to repay his debts, Twain launched a world lecture tour. Twain repaid all of his debts by 1898. Twain wrote very little in his last days due to family and personal problems. Twain- America?s favorite humorist- turned into a pessimistic writer, whose last works are filled with darkness and grimness (Works of Twain: Brief Account). Twain met Olivia Langdon in 1867 and married her in 1870. Five years after his marriage, he moved to Hartford, Connecticut and built an extravagant house


(Works of Twain: Biographical Sketch). Clemens had three daughters Susie, Clara, and Jean. Clara moved to Europe with her husband around 1894. Jean had epilepsy and died of a heart attack in January of 1910. Twain?s life was filled with much sorrow and depression, this is probably the reason that some Twain?s last writings were so savage and bitter that they have just recently been published. On April 21, 1910, just four months after his daughter?s death, Twain died of a heart attack (Works of Twain: Biographical Sketch).

In 1990, the original draft of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was found in a trunk in the attic of James Gluck?s house in Hollywood, California by his two granddaughters. Mark Twain sent the second half of the manuscript to Gluck, then a librarian in Buffalo, New York, to put in his library?s collection. Apparently, Twain sent the first half later on, but it became misplaced by Gluck to be found nearly a century after if was lost. The entire manuscript of Huckleberry Finn, both the first and second halves, is now in the Erie Country Public Library?s collection (?The Twain Shall Meet?). The manuscript, which represented the first half of a handwritten first version, caused a sensation around the world, and scholars have called it a stupendous literary find (Getlin, 1). The second half of the manuscript is thought to have fewer significant changes than the recently discovered first half. Changes in the first half include adjustment in character?s dialect, small word changes, and complete passages that were left out of the first printing of the book (?The Twain Shall Meet?). One section left out of the first printing was the ?raftman?s passage?


which also appears in Twain?s Life on the Mississippi. Other small changes, such as Jim belonging to the widow Douglas instead of Ms. Watson, make the novel very different. Richard Snow, an editor for the publication American Heritage, states that the small changes ?freshen the reader?s appreciation for Twain?s Classic? (Snow, 102). Mark Twain?s wife?s handwriting can also be seen in the original manuscript where she crossed out certain vulgarities (?The Twain Shall Meet?).

Patrick Martin, the Buffalo and Erie Library?s lawyer, believed that the original manuscript contained important information that had been omitted from the first printing of the book. Martin, along with other officials from the Buffalo and Erie Library, decided hire Charles Rembar, a successful New York lawyer to sell the rights to the cave scene. Rembar contacted Daniel Menaker, then in between jobs at The New Yorker and Random House, and asked him if he would like to print a portion of the manuscript in the magazine and when he moved to Random House he might have a good shot at winning the rights to publish the entire manuscript. Menaker agreed and on June 26, 1995, The New Yorker printed in its special fiction issue the cave passage that was in the original manuscript, but omitted from the first printing. This enticed America?s interest in the new material and made the manuscript appealing to publishing houses all over America. Random House won the rights to publish a new edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which would demonstrate that when Twain had set out to write this book he had had something even


darker and more satirical in mind. Twain could have easily elaborated on many racial issues to make the novel even more controversial than it is today. Random House published the comprehensive edition of Huckleberry Finn in February 1996 (?The Twain Shall Meet?). This edition contains the original material and new material set off if a different type face. Some experts commented that in combining the old and new material, the meaning of the book is altered. Robert Hirst, director of the Mark Twain Project at UC Berkely?s Bancroft Library, stated, ?Calling this the unexpurgated version is good stuff for Madison Avenue, but it?s just not accurate . . . Mark Twain deleted this new material for sound reasons, and to put it into a new authorized version now is to mix up two levels of textural reality? (Getlin, 1).

When most people think about Mark Twain, they think of a kind grandfather figure who wore a white suit, had white hair and sat on a porch and told stories. Mark Twain was a regular person and had difficulties just as regular people do. Twain had considerably greater successes in his life than the average person, but he also had problems and failures as other people do. When the original manuscript was discovered, the literary community and America took a second look at Twain and they saw a person who was normal and had very controversial ideas about controversial issues, such as slavery, that were important during his lifetime.

Getlin, Josh. ?Literary Revolution or Misplaced Obsession?; Books: The newly published version of ?Huck Finn? contains a recently discovered first draft. Some say it gives readers insight into the author, but others complain that it only offers ?two levels of textual reality?.? Los Angeles Times 9 April 1996, Home ed.: Life and Style pg. 1.

Snow, Richard F. ?The Missing Huck and Jim.? American Heritage Jul.- Aug.

1996: 102.

?Twain, Mark.? Compton?s Interactive Encyclopedia. 1994.

?The Twain Shall Meet.? Online. Random House. Internet. 23 Oct. 1996

Available: http://www.randomhouse.com/atr/winter96/twain.html.

Works of Twain: Biographical Sketch of Mark Twain. Simon and Schuster, Inc.,


Works of Twain: Brief Account of Mark Twain?s Life and Works. Simon and

Schuster, Inc., 1990.

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