Picks and Pans Review: The Annotated Huckleberry Finn

updated 02/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

edited by Michael Patrick Hearn

Huck's surname came from Jimmy Finn, the real-life drunkard of Samuel Clemens' hometown, Hannibal, Mo. Clemens once consulted a phrenologist who told him one dent in his head proved he had no sense of humor. A "blister" was an objectionable person. The ending of Huckleberry Finn is a bit unclear because Clemens kept confusing two characters, Huck's guardian, Widow Douglas, and her sister, Miss Watson. All these exhaustive notes by Hearn—a critic who also edited The Annotated Wizard of Oz and The Annotated Christmas Carol—will fascinate those who love Clemens' masterpiece. It would be best not to use this edition to introduce young readers to the novel, keeping in mind Clemens' "notice" on his original: "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot." (Potter, $25)

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