The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Tom Sawyer 1876 frontispiece.jpg
Front piece of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876 1st edition.
Author Mark Twain
Cover artist Created by Mark Twain
Country United States
Language English, Limited Edition (Spanish)
Genre Bildungsroman, Picaresque Novel, Satire, Folk, Children's Literature
Publisher American Publishing Company
Publication date
1876[1]
OCLC 47052486
813.4
LC Class PZ7.T88 Ad 2001
Followed by Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Text The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at Wikisource

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is an 1876 novel about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River. It is set in the 1840s in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, inspired by Hannibal, Missouri, where Twain lived as a boy.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

Tom Sawyer , US commemorative stamp of 1972 showing the white board fence.

Tom Sawyer lives with his Aunt Polly and his half-brother Sid. He skips school to swim and is made to whitewash the fence the next day as punishment. He cleverly persuades his friends to trade him small treasures for the privilege of doing his work.

Tom falls in love with Becky Thatcher, a new girl in town, and persuades her to get "engaged" by kissing him. But their romance collapses when she learns Tom has been "engaged" previously to Amy Lawrence. Shortly after Becky shuns him, he accompanies Huckleberry Finn to the graveyard at night, where they witness a trio of body snatchers, Dr. Robinson, Muff Potter, and Injun Joe, getting into a fight in which Robinson is murdered by Injun Joe.

Joe pins the murder on Muff Potter, but the boys know he is innocent. At Potters trial, Tom speaks out and Joe escapes through a window before he can be apprehended. Henceforth the boys live in constant fear of Joe's revenge on them for incriminating him.

Bored by school, Tom, his best friend Joe Harper, and Huck run away to an island in the Mississippi called Jackson's Island. While enjoying their new-found freedom, they become aware that the community is sounding the river for their bodies. Tom sneaks back home one night to observe the commotion. After a brief moment of remorse at his loved ones' suffering, he is struck by the idea of appearing at his own funeral. The trio later carry out this scheme by making a sensational sudden appearance in the church in the middle of their joint funeral service.

Back in school, Tom gets himself back in Becky's favor after he nobly accepts the blame and punishment for a book she has ripped.

Summer arrives, and Tom and Huck go hunting for buried treasure in a haunted house. After venturing upstairs they hear a noise below. Peering through holes in the floor, they see Injun Joe disguised as a deaf-mute Spaniard; Injun Joe and his companion plan to bury some stolen treasure of their own. From their hiding spot, Tom and Huck wriggle with delight at the prospect of digging it up. By chance the villains discover an even greater gold hoard buried in the hearth and carry it all off to a better secret hiding place. The boys are determined to find where it has gone. One night Huck spots them and follows them. He overhears their plans to attack the wealthy Widow Douglas. By running to fetch help, Huck prevents the crime and becomes an anonymous hero.

Tom and Becky lost in the caves. Illustration from the 1876 edition by artist True Williams.

In the meantime, Tom goes on a picnic to McDougal's Cave with Becky and their classmates. Tom and Becky get separated from the others and wander lost in the extensive cave complex for the next few days. Becky gets extremely dehydrated and starved, so Tom's search for a way out gets even more desperate. He accidentally encounters Injun Joe in the caves one day, but he is not seen by his nemesis. Eventually, he finds a way out, and they are joyfully welcomed back by their community. As a preventive measure, Judge Thatcher, Becky's father, has McDougal's Cave sealed off with an iron door, but this traps Injun Joe inside. When Tom hears of the sealing several days later he directs a posse to the cave, they find Injun Joe's corpse just inside the sealed entrance, starved to death.

A week later, having deduced from Injun Joe's presence at McDougal's Cave that the villain must have hidden the stolen gold inside, Tom takes Huck to the cave and they find the box of gold, the proceeds of which are invested for them. The Widow Douglas adopts Huck, but he finds the restrictions of a civilized home life painful. He attempts to escape back to his vagrant life. Tom tricks him into thinking that he can later join Tom's new scheme of starting a robber band if he returns to the widow. Reluctantly, Huck agrees and goes back to her.

See also List of Tom Sawyer characters.

Significance[edit]

The novel has elements of humor, satire and social criticism; features that later made Mark Twain one of the most important authors of American literature. Mark Twain describes some autobiographical events in the book. The novel is set around Twain's actual boyhood home of Hannibal, near St. Louis, and many of the places in it are real and today support a tourist industry as a result.[3]

Inception[edit]

Tom Sawyer is Twain's first attempt to write a novel on his own. He had previously written contemporary autobiographical narratives (The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrims' Progress, Roughing It,) and two short texts called sketches which parody the youth literature of the time.  These are The Story of the Good Boy and The Story of the Wicked Little Boy which are satirical texts of a few pages. In the first, a model child is never rewarded and ends up dying before he can declaim his last words which he has carefully prepared. In the second story, an evil little boy steals and lies, like Tom Sawyer, but finishes rich and successful. Tom appears as a mixture of these little boys, since he is at the same time a scamp and a boy endowed with a certain generosity.

By the time he wrote Tom Sawyer, Twain was already a successful author based on the popularity of The Innocents Abroad. He owned a large house in Hartford Connecticut. but needed another success to support himself, with a wife and two daughters. He had collaborated on a novel with Charles Dudley Warner, The Gilded Age published in 1874.[4]

He had earlier written an unpublished memoir of his own life on the Mississippi and corresponded with a boyhood friend, Will Bowen, that had evoked many memories and was used as a source of material.

Twain named his fictional character after a San Francisco fireman whom he met in June 1863. The real Tom Sawyer was a local hero, famous for rescuing 90 passengers after a shipwreck. The two remained friendly during Twain's three-year stay in San Francisco, often drinking and gambling together.[5]

Publication[edit]

In November 1875 Twain gave the manuscript to Elisha Bliss of the American Publishing Company, who sent it to True Williams for the illustrations. A little later, Twain had the text also quickly published at Chatto and Windus of London, in June 1876, but without illustration. Pirate editions appeared very quickly in Canada and Germany. The American Publishing Company finally published its edition in December 1876, which was the first illustrated edition of Tom Sawyer.[6]

These two editions differ slightly. After completing his manuscript, Twain had a copy made of it. It is this copy which was read and annotated by his friend William Dean Howells. Twain then made his own corrections based on Howells comments which he later incorporated in the original manuscript, but some corrections escaped him. The English edition was based on this corrected copy, while the illustrated American edition was based on the original manuscript. To further complicate matters, Twain was personally concerned with the revision of the proofs of the American edition, which he did not do for the English edition. The American edition is therefore considered the authoritative edition.

Critical analysis[edit]

A third person narrator describes the experiences of the boys, interspersed with occasional social commentary. In its sequel, Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain changes to a first person narrative which takes moral conflicts more personally and thus makes greater social criticism possible.[7]

Sometimes the book is described as racist because black people are called "niggers" in the text. This was common practice at the time and does not necessarily indicate racism. A cleansed version, which no longer contained the word, aroused indignation among some literary critics.[8]

Sequels and other works featuring Tom Sawyer[edit]

Tom Sawyer, the story's title character, also appears in two other uncompleted sequels: Huck and Tom Among the Indians and Tom Sawyer's Conspiracy. He is also a character in Twain's unfinished Schoolhouse Hill.

Adaptations and influences[edit]

Film and television[edit]

Theatrical[edit]

  • In 1956, We're From Missouri, a musical adaptation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, with book, music, and lyrics by Tom Boyd, was presented by the students at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
  • In 1960, Tom Boyd's musical version (re-titled Tom Sawyer) was presented professionally at Theatre Royal Stratford East in London, England, and in 1961 toured provincial theatres in England.[24][25]
  • In 1981, the play "The Boys in Autumn" was premiered in San Francisco by the American dramatist Bernhard Sabath , in which Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn meet again as old men. Despite good reviews, the play has remained largely unknown.[26]
  • In 2001, the musical The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Ken Ludwig and Don Schlitz, debuted on Broadway.[27]
  • In 2015, the Mark Twain House and Museum selected 17-year-old Noah Altshuler (writer of Making the Move), as Mark Twain Playwright in Residence, to create a modern, meta-fictional adaptation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer for regional and commercial production.[28]

Ballet[edit]

Tom Sawyer: A Ballet in Three Acts premiered on October 14, 2011, at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri. The score was by composer Maury Yeston, with choreography by William Whitener, artistic director of the Kansas City Ballet.[29][30] A review in The New York Times observed: "It’s quite likely that this is the first all-new, entirely American three-act ballet: it is based on an American literary classic, has an original score by an American composer and was given its premiere by an American choreographer and company. ... Both the score and the choreography are energetic, robust, warm, deliberately naïve (both ornery and innocent), in ways right for Twain."[31]

Video Games[edit]

Internet[edit]

On November 30, 2011, to celebrate Twain’s 176th birthday, the Google Doodle was a scene from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.[32]

Song[edit]

Canadian rock band Rush published a song entitled Tom Sawyer in 1981, which is inspired by the book.[33]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Facsimile of the original 1st edition.
  2. ^ "American Literature: Mark Twain". www.americanliterature.com. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Norkunas, Martha K. (1993). The Politics of Public Memory: Tourism, History, and Ethnicity in Monterey, California. SUNY Press. p. 60. ISBN 0791414841. 
  4. ^ Gailey, Amanda. "The Gilded Age : A Tale of Today". Encyclopedia of American Literature. 
  5. ^ Graysmith, Robert (October 2012). "The Adventures of the Real Tom Sawyer". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved November 15, 2012. 
  6. ^ Mark Twain, Hamlin Lewis Hill. Mark Twain's Letters to his Publishers 1867-1894. Publisher University of California Press.  horizontal tab character in |publisher= at position 10 (help)
  7. ^ Groß-Langenhoff, Barbara (2006). Social Criticism in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. GRIN Verlag,. ISBN 363845682X. 
  8. ^ "Opinion | That's Not Twain". The New York Times. 2011. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-18. 
  9. ^ "Tom Sawyer". 
  10. ^ "Tom Sawyer (1930)". IMDB. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Tom Sawyer (1936)". IMDB. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  12. ^ "THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER (1938)". tcm.com. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  13. ^ "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1960– )". IMDB. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Les aventur Sawyer (1968– )". IMDB. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  15. ^ "The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1968–1969)". IMDB. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Aventuras de Juliancito (1969)". IMDB. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Tom Sawyer (1973)". IMDB. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Tom Sawyer (TV 1973)". IMDB. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Huckleberry Finn and His Friends (1979– )". IMDB. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  20. ^ "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (1981)". nytimes.com. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Tom and Huck (1995)". IMDB. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Tom Sawyer (Video 2000)". IMDB. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn (2014)". IMDB. Retrieved February 27, 2015. 
  24. ^ "TOM SAWYER - London production". www.tomboyd.net. Retrieved 2016-08-13. 
  25. ^ Frankos, Laura (2010-01-01). The Broadway Musical Quiz Book. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 267. ISBN 9781423492757. 
  26. ^ Rich, Frank (1986-05-01). "THEATER: 'THE BOYS IN AUTUMN'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-02. 
  27. ^ Weber, Bruce (2001-04-27). "THEATER REVIEW; An Older (and Calmer) Tom Sawyer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-02. 
  28. ^ Giola, Michael (March 24, 2015). "Could a 17-Year-Old Bring Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" Back to Broadway?". Playbill. 
  29. ^ Horsley, Paul. "An American Ballet: KCB Presents World Premiere Of Ambitious New Piece", KCIndependent.com, accessed June 23, 2012
  30. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Maury Yeston's Tom Sawyer Ballet Will Get World Premiere in 2011", Playbill.com, November 9, 2012
  31. ^ Macaulay, Alastair. "Yes, Those Are Tom, Becky and Huck Leaping", NYTimes.com, October 24, 2011
  32. ^ "Mark Twain's 176th Birthday", google.com, November 30, 2011
  33. ^ "Tom Sawyer by Rush Songfacts". www.songfacts.com. Retrieved 2017-10-02. 

External links[edit]