When the United States celebrated its centennial in 1876, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer arrived on the scene and was hardly noticed. Twain’s autobiographical story of a summer in the life of a mischievous young boy in a fictional Missouri town, credibly depicts the youthful experiences of the author himself, enlivened by drama and remarkable events. Tom Sawyer has withstood the test of time, becoming Twain’s perennial bestseller that has been in print continuously since its publication and issued in hundreds of editions. The novel has been translated into more than 50 languages and adapted for the screen in dozens of productions, large and small. Tom’s longevity as an endearing literary character lies mainly in Twain’s vision of a truly American childhood, “showing off” with just enough humor and excitement to keep the young reader entertained, as well as many an adult. It is also significant for introducing the world to the lovable but “gaudy outcast,” Huckleberry Finn.
On display are many of those editions and adaptations, including the first printing, several foreign-language editions, and pictorial versions from famous artists to lesser-known book illustrators.
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