The Public Reception of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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The Public Reception of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Upon its publication in 1884, Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was met with mixed reviews. Some reviewers called it flat, trashy, and irreverent. Others called it Twain's best work yet, hailing his humor and style throughout the novel. Though obscure at first, reviews began to appear in many newspapers throughout the country as more and more became interested in the novel as a result of these reviews.

Huckleberry Finn was published at a time when the nation was deeply concerned about the effects of literature on young minds. Dime novels appeared in abundance, and had moved from western stories to more modern stories, like those of Peck's Bad Boy and His
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More harsh criticisms pronounced the book irreverent and trashy. They claimed that the novel was completely without plot of moral. The novel, they claimed was fit for the slums rather than the intelligent, moral ranks of society.

The novel's greatest criticism, however, did not come in the form of a review. In March 1885, the Concord Free Public Library banned the book from its shelves because of its irreverence and lack of morality. One member of the committee which decided to ban the book was quoted as saying:

I have examined the book and my objections to it are these: It deals with a series of adventures of a very low grade of morality; it is couched in the language of a rough, ignorant dialect, and all through its pages there is a systematic use of bad grammar and an employment of rough, coarse, inelegant expressions. It is also very irreverent.

As news of the ban spread, more newspapers began to print editorials on the ban and the novel itself. Some papers encouraged the ban of the books, but many others found it amusing and laughable. Many papers printed editorials which made jokes about the bans.
Some of the papers immediately printed editorials which joked that the Concord Free Public Library had given Huck Finn its greatest advertisement to date, saying that the ban was
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