“ALL MODERN LITERATURE COMES FROM ONE BOOK BY MARK TWAIN. IT’S THE BEST BOOK WE’VE HAD”: FIRST ISSUE OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, A BEAUTIFUL COPY
TWAIN, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer’s Comrade). New York: Charles L. Webster, 1885. Octavo, original gilt- and black-stamped green pictorial cloth. Housed in custom chemise and half blue morocco clamshell box.
First edition, first issue, of “the most praised and most condemned 19th-century American work of fiction” (Legacies of Genius, 47). A fine copy.
Written over an eight-year period, Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn endured critical attacks from the moment of publication, standing accused of “blood-curdling humor,” immorality, coarseness and profanity. The book nevertheless emerged as one of the defining novels of American literature, prompting Hemingway to declare: “All modern literature comes from one book by Mark Twain. It’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing since.” This copy has all of the commonly identified first issue points (the printer assembled copies haphazardly; bibliographers do not yet agree as to the priority of many points). First issue points: page  with “Decided” remaining uncorrected (to “Decides”); page , illustration captioned “Him and another Man” listed as on page 88; page 57, 11th line from bottom reads “with the was.” Debate continues over the priority of other points of issue and state. This copy contains the following points of bibliographical interest: frontispiece portrait with cloth table cover under the bust, bearing the Heliotype Printing Co. imprint; copyright page dated 1884; page 143 with “l” missing from “Col.” at top of illustration and with broken “b” in “body” on line seven; page 155 without the final “5”; page 161, no signature mark “11”; pages 283-84 is a cancel (illustration with straight pant-fly) as described by Johnson (page 48) and MacDonnell (pages 32-33). BAL 3415. Johnson, 43-50. MacDonnell, 29-35. McBride, 93. Grolier American 87. Small bookplate and bookseller ticket.
Cloth fresh, gilt bright. Only minuscule rubs to spine ends. A fine copy, most scarce and desirable in this condition.