“ALL MODERN LITERATURE COMES FROM ONE BOOK BY MARK TWAIN. IT’S THE BEST BOOK WE’VE HAD”: FIRST ISSUE OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
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 a custom chemise and clamshell box. $12,500.
First edition, first issue, of “the most praised and most condemned 19th-century American work of fiction” (Legacies of Genius, 47), with 174 illustrations by Edward Kemble.
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, bearing the Heliotype Printing Co. imprint, with cloth table cover clearly visible under the bust; copyright page dated 1884; page 143 with "l" missing from "Col" and broken "b" in "body" on line seven; page 155 without the final "5"; page 161, no signature mark "11"; page 283-84 is a cancel (Kemble's 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. Gift inscription dated the year of publication.
Front inner paper hinge expertly reinforced, a little bit of wear to frontispiece edges, text unusually clean; cloth with only minor wear and soiling, gilt quite bright. An extremely good copy.