The Sunday Post (Inverness)

Twain’s book made its Mark on history


Often described as a literary icon by his peers, Mark Twain is considered to be one of the greatest American writers of all time.

Within the pages of his 28 published books, numerous short stories, letters and sketches, Twain explored the American psyche, as well as the themes of freedom, racism and hypocrisy that he saw in the world around him. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, he followed various career paths before settling on writing, including working as a riverboat pilot on the Mississipp­i River.

His experience winding down these lazy waters and his small hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, are thought to have provided the inspiratio­n for perhaps his best-known novel, The Adventures Of Huckleberr­y Finn.

Published for the first time in the UK and Canada on December 10, 1884, the story has come to be known as the “Great American Novel”, and its popularity and appeal has endured throughout the last century.

Spanning 366 pages, the seminal work tells the tale of narrator Huckleberr­y “Huck” Finn and runaway slave, Jim, as they take a long and disrupted trip down the Mississipp­i River on a wooden raft.

Despite being initially reluctant to help him evade his owners, Huck soon becomes attached to Jim and the pair become close friends, with their relationsh­ip exploring the deep-set racism that was so prevalent at the time. Using coarse language and written in colourful colloquial­isms, The Adventures Of Huckleberr­y Finn was controvers­ial when first published, and was subsequent­ly banned by many libraries, schools and colleges over the years. Many considered the realism of the book to portray racist sentiment, deemed to be inappropri­ate for children.

However, since 1884, the novel has seen at least 700 worldwide editions, has been translated into more than 50 languages, and still sells around 200,000 copies every year – by some estimates, the book has sold more than 20 million copies.

As well as being taught in literature classes, the novel has also spawned various film and TV adaptation­s. In 1939, Metro-goldwynmay­er released a feature length film starring Mickey Rooney, before a wellreceiv­ed musical version followed in 1974.

Twain’s masterpiec­e is thought to have influenced countless generation­s of writers, and such is the lasting legacy his work, Ernest Hemingway once said: “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberr­y Finn.”

 ??  ?? The Adventures of Huck Finn, a 1993 film starring Elijah Wood and Courtney B Vance
The Adventures of Huck Finn, a 1993 film starring Elijah Wood and Courtney B Vance

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