Samuel Langhorne Clemens (more popularly known as Mark Twain) is considered by many as the greatest humourist in American literature. However, behind the satire and the fun is evident a keen eye for life’s realities and universal truths. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as well as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer belong to that special category of works—ranging from Homer’s Odyssey and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, down to Orwell’s Animal Farm and Golding’s
Lord of the Flies—that are read and enjoyed alike by children and sophisticated adults. Huckleberry Finn may be read first as a boy’s adventure story, but every subsequent re-reading gives the work fresh meaning and added depth. Ernest Hemingway opined that “all modern American literature comes from … Huckleberry Finn”. Mark Twain’s realistic prose style—based on American colloquial speech—was a pioneering effect in fiction, and flowed from ease and freedom of language usage: the sentence structure in the work is simple, direct and fluent, reflecting the rhythms of words and the intonations of speech. As T.S. Eliot pointed out, Twain in Huckleberry Finn “reveals himself as one of those writers . . . who have discovered a new way of writing, valid not only for themselves but for others”. But from the reader’s point of view it is a book meant for enjoyment.
The present unabridged edition of the novel Huckleberry Finn is accompanied by a critical introduction in which Prof. Arun Kumar Sinha briefly surveys the life and works of Mark Twain and goes on to examine the thematic, structural and stylistic aspects of the novel. The introduction will enable the reader to understand and appreciate the literary qualities of the work, besides providing the serious student with insights into Twain’s style and technique.
Suggestions to improve the work in any way will be welcome.