Name: "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn"

Date:  1851 - 1899 , 1900 - 1925 , 1926 - 1950

Location:  North America , Russia and Central Asia

SubjectPolitical/Economic/Social Opinion


Artist: Clemens Samuel Langhorne (Mark Twain) (1835-1910)

Confronting Bodies:  Public Libraries

Date of Action: 1876+

Specific Location: United States, Soviet Union

Description of Artwork: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", 1876 : novel featuring Tom, the "normal boy" mischievous but good hearted, winning triumphs through a number of adventures. Complete hypertext of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" from Wiretap.spies "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", 1885 : novel about a boy, Huck and his black friend Jim who together make a journey , interrupted by frequent stops, far down the Mississippi on a raft. Complete text of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

Description of Incident: 1876 U.S.A.-Brooklyn, N.Y.: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" was excluded from the children's room in the Public Library. Also excluded from the Denver Public Library. 1885 Concord, MA: In the home town of Henry David Thoreau, the "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was banned by the Public Library as "trash and suitable only for the slums." The Concord Free Trade Club retaliated by electing the author to honorary membership. 1905 Brooklyn, N.Y.: The books were excluded from children's room of the Public Library as bad examples of ingenuous youth. Asa Don Dickinson, Librarian of Brooklyn College, appealed to the author to defend the slander. His reply, which was not published until 1924, said: "I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote "Tom Sawyer" and "Huck Finn" for adults exclusively, and it always distressed me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean."

Results of Incident: 1930 Soviet Union: Books confiscated at the border. 1946 : Books had become best sellers in Soviet Union. 1957 United States-New York City : Dropped from list of approved books for seniors and junior high schools, partly because of objection to frequent use of the term "nigger" and famed character, "Nigger Jim." NOTE: Mr. Clemens censored "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and deleted the profanity and other strong passages, but left some which have at times been criticized, such has: "All kings is mostly rapscallions" (Ch.23) and "so the king he blatted along" (Ch.25). The London Athenaeum has called it one of the six greatest books ever written in America.

Source: Banned Books 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D., by Anne Lyon Haight, and Chandler B.

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