'••>;• . -INSTITUTE of .
of Tom Sawyer
"The difference between
the almost right word &
the right word is really
a large matter — it's the
difference between the
lightning bug and the
from an 1888 letter
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is not merely a literary classic. It
is part of the American imagination. More than any other work
in our culture it established America's vision of childhood. Mark
Twain created two fictional boys, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn,
who still seem more real than most of the people we know. In a
still puritanical nation, Twain reminded adults that children were
not angels, but fellow human beings, and perhaps all the more lovable for
their imperfections and bad grooming. Neither American literature nor
America has ever been the same.
The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts
designed to revitalize the role of literary reading in American popular
culture. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004
NEA report, identified a critical decline in reading for pleasure among
American adults. The Big Read aims to address this issue directly by
providing citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book
within their communities.
A great book combines enlightenment with enchantment It awakens our
imagination and enlarges our humanity. It can even offer harrowing insights
that somehow console and comfort us. Whether you're a regular reader
already or a nonreader making up for lost time, thank you for joining
The Big Read.
Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
Mark Twain, 1867
■ i' 1
» I ■ I
Now the raft was passing
before the distant town.
Two or three glimmering
lights showed where it lay,
peacefully sleeping, beyond
the vague vast sweep of
— from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Introduction to the Novel
Mark Twain's The Adventures of
Tom Sawyer (1876) is a book for
readers of all ages. Most readers pick
it up young and enjoy it, but too
few come back to it later on, when
its dark shadings and affectionate
satire of small-town life might hit
closer to home.
The book sold slowly at first but has
since become the archetypal comic
novel of American childhood. It
begins with several chapters of scene-
setting episodic skylarking by Tom
and his gang. All the grown-ups in
the book fret about Tom's future,
fussing at him about his clothes
and his manners, but also about his
future, and whether this orphaned
boy can ever grow up right.
Meanwhile, Tom just wants to cut
school, flirt with the new girl, get
rich, and read what he pleases. Only
after he and his wayward friend
Huckleberry Finn accidentally
witness a murder will he at last get
the chance to live out an adventure
as heroic as any in his storybooks.
When Tom and his beloved Becky
Thatcher become trapped in a
dark cave, he must call on all his
imagination and ingenuity if he
wants even a chance at growing up.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
has likely suffered over the years
from unfair comparisons to its
famous sequel. Huck gets fuller
development in Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (1885), where
he escapes down the river with
the runaway slave Jim and, in
spite of himself, begins to discover
his conscience. But just because
Huckleberry Finn is the deeper book
doesn't make Tom Sawyer mere
kids' stuff. Twain never could make
up his mind whether Tom Sawyer
was for kids or grown-ups, and his
book is the better for it.
If Tom stepped out of his
nineteenth-century Missouri small
town and into a contemporary
American classroom, a guidance
counselor would probably tag him
as an at-risk latchkey kid. Reading
Tom Sawyer today is an invitation
to talk about how American
childhood has and hasn't changed —
and also to laugh at Twain's
enduring invention of a great
American comic voice.
Top, the first edition of The Adventures
of Tom Sawyer, 1876; background, an
illustration from the first edition
National Endowment for the Arts • THE BIG READ 3
Tom Sawyer is a smart, imaginative,
conniving, bossy boy growing up in
fictional St. Petersburg, Missouri.
He's usually in trouble by the time
he gets out of bed, but he's too well-
meaning and funny for anybody to
stay mad at him for long.
"There were some that believed
he would be President, yet, if he
— from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Huckleberry Finn is the son of
the local drunk. Huck does most
everything that Tom puts him
up to, while Tom covets Huck's
freedom and independence.
Becky Thatcher is the new girl
in town, and Tom falls hard for
her. She's flirty and headstrong,
sometimes manipulative, but brave
enough with Tom by her side.
Sid Sawyer, Tom's half-brother,
is the most disgusting goody two-
shoes on two legs. Aunt Polly is
always measuring Tom against
him even though he's a shameless
tattletale, a worrywart, and a
Tom Sawyer White Washing the Fence from
the Norman Rockwell illustrated edition of
Adventures of Tom Sawyer has been reproduced
with the permission of Easton Press.
Aunt Polly has taken care of Tom
since his mother died. She truly
loves him, but he's a handful, and
she wishes he could be more like
that nice Sid.
The Widow Douglas takes Huck
into her home and, good-hearted,
tries to reform him. Her rigidly
scheduled life rubs him the wrong
way, and only Tom has any luck
talking him into staying.
Muff Potter is a drunkard. He's
not an evil man exacdy but weak,
cowardly, and ripe for anyone to
come along and take advantage
Injun Joe embodies all the fear of
the unknown that a small town
might feel on the edge of a great
unsettled wilderness. Violent and
cruel, he earns a little of the reader's
sympathy only at the very end.
4 THE BIG READ • National Endowment for the Arts
Mark Twain, 1835-1910
Mark Twain was a man ahead
of his time from the day he was
born Samuel Langhorne Clemens,
fully two months early, in tiny
Florida, Missouri. Not surprising
for a preemie, a profound sense of
mortality shadowed him all his life.
In addition, Twain survived a youth
marked by deaths both sudden
Not only did his forbidding father,
Judge John Marshall Clemens, die of
pneumonia when Twain was eleven,
but Twain is said to have witnessed
the autopsy through a keyhole.
He also sat at his beloved brother
Henry's bedside as he lay dying after
a steamboat explosion, and Twain
forever blamed himself for getting
Henry his fateful job on board.
Three other formative experiences
made Twain the writer he became.
First were the gifted storytellers
he grew up listening to, many of
them slaves. Next came his early
job as a printer's apprentice. There
he literally put words together, by
handsetting type, and observed up
close what made sentences sing or
clang. Finally came Twain's years
in California and Nevada, where
he became a newspaperman and
found his voice as a writer. There he
chose the pen name "Mark Twain,"
a riverboat expression meaning two
fathoms deep, the divider between
safe and dangerously shallow water.
A tall tale called "The Celebrated
Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"
(1865), widely reprinted almost
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MARK TWAIN
Halley's Comet streaks across
the night sky, 1835.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens,
who later adopts the pen name
Mark Twain, is bom in Florida,
Missouri, on November 30, 1835.
The Clemens family moves to
nearby Hannibal, 1839.
Clemens's father dies of
Gold discovered in California,
mere weeks after U.S.
annexation of the territory
in the Treaty of Guadalupe
Clemens apprenticed to his older
brother Orion as a printer, 1 848.
Clemens's brother Henry dies
from injuries sustained in a
riverboat explosion, 1858.
Comstock silver lode discovered
in Nevada, 1858.
Clemens gets his license to pilot
steamboats on the Mississippi
Twain, Livy, and their three daughters relax with the family dog on the porch of
their Hartford home, 1 884.
immediately, cemented his national
Twain returned from the West and
set out for the East — specifically
the Middle East, where he traveled
on the first-ever luxury cruise and
filed dispatches back to stateside
newspapers. The eventual result was
a national bestseller, The Innocents
Abroad (1869), and highbrow
acceptance from the tastemakers at
The Atlantic Monthly magazine.
Meanwhile, Twain's personal
life settled down. After years of
bachelorhood he married Olivia
"Livy" Langdon, whom he had first
glimpsed in a cameo carried by her
brother, Charley, on shipboard.
Charley introduced the couple on
their return, and after two years
Twain overcame the Langdons'
misgivings and they married. She
was demure and he was outrageous,
but somehow it worked. After the
death of their firstborn son, they
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MARK TWAIN
The Civil War begins in 1861 and
lasts four blood-drenched years.
Clemens joins the Confederate
side and lasts all of two weeks.
Clemens heads west to find his
fortune and discovers a career in
journalism instead, 1861.
In 1870 Twain
corruption run rampant in
postwar America, yielding
the subject for Twain's first
(co-written) novel, The Gilded
Age: A Tale of Today, 1873.
c. 1 872-73.
As a journalist, Twain tours
Europe and the Middle East
in 1 867 and brings back the
makings of his first book, The
Innocents Abroad, 1869.
6 THE BIG READ • National Endowment for the Arts
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Reconstruction of the South after
the Civil War largely fails, as
Twain observes firsthand during
a fateful 1 882 research trip for
Life on the Mississippi.
Inspired partly by his return visit
south, Twain finishes Adventures
of Huckleberry Finn, 1885.
Twain buys half-interest in a
typesetting machine, which will
yield him no end of grief and no
rate of return, 1886.
raised three daughters and lived
as happily as Twain's dark moods
Twain's imperishable memories
of his boyhood led to the writing
of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
(1876) and, eventually, its more
challenging sequel, Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (1885). Twain
wrote well and prolifically almost
all his long life, but these two
companion pieces stand apart as
his masterpieces of childhood and
Financial uncertainty and death
haunted Twain's last years even
more than they had his first. He
went broke keeping up the beautiful
house he had built in Connecticut
and investing in a series of
harebrained schemes. A daughter
died, then his adored but frail Livy,
and then yet another daughter.
Through it all he kept writing —
fiction when he could, essays when
he couldn't, plus magnificent
letters, and journals by the trunkful.
Revered across America and
around the world, Twain died
on April 21, 1910.
"Let us endeavor so
to live that when we
come to die even the
undertaker will be
from Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
Twain declares bankruptcy and
embarks on an exhausting world
lecture tour to dig himself out of
Twain's beloved daughter Susy
Mahatma Gandhi agitates for
Indian independence; Sigmund
Freud pioneers psychoanalysis;
Twain meets both, and many
other luminaries, during his
Twain writes brilliant, increasingly
bitter essays against lynching,
war, and imperialism.
Livy dies in Italy, 1904.
President Theodore Roosevelt
busts trade monopolies at home,
pursues imperialist aims abroad,
and entertains Twain at the White
Halley's Comet returns, 1910.
Mark Twain dies on April 21 ,
Henry Ford introduces the
Model T, 1908.
The Mark Twain House
and Museum in Hartford,
National Endowment for the Arts • THE BIG READ 7
Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain's two most enduring
books, Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn and its often underrated
junior partner, The Adventures of
Tom Sawyer, represent two sides
of the same raft. Tom Sauyer
is sunny and upright, skirting
whirlpools but ultimately hugging
the shore of convention. Huck
Finn is its deep, dark, wet, rushing
underside. Nowhere do these
Illustration of Tom from the first edition of
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1 876
"All modern American
literature comes from one
book by Mark Twain called
from The Green Hills of Africa (1935)
flipsides of Twain's productively
riven personality bob up more
conspicuously than at two moments
common to each novel: when both
tide characters attend their own
funerals, and when each novel ends
with a shaky vow of reform.
In both books the hero gets to
live out perhaps every morbid,
underappreciated kid's greatest
fantasy: to spy on his own mourners
and hear how sorry everybody
is, and then to come back from
the dead to a hero's welcome.
"She would be sorry some day,"
Tom says of Becky, "maybe when
it was too late. Ah, if he could
only die temporarily!" Typically,
Tom lucks into his version of this
fantasy. Huck, on the other hand,
deliberately fakes his own death to
escape his father.
The books' endings, too, are
strikingly similar. In Tom Sawyer,
Huck reluctantly allows the Widow
Douglas to take him in, but on
the last page he doesn't sound
8 THE BIG READ • National Endowment for the Arts
terribly optimistic about sticking
it out with her. Meanwhile, in the
famous ending to Huck Finn, the
title character vows to "light out for
the territory" if the widow tries too
zealously to "sivilize" him, because
he's "been there before." Huck has
indeed been there before, because
Tom Sawyer ended on this same
In fact, Tom and Huck fit their
namesake books perfecdy. Like
Tom, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
is outrageous, but also smooth,
artful, and anxious to please. A
model of literary construction,
it stands up straight. Like Huck,
on the other hand, Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn slouches. It's
ungainly, in need of finishing, and
its language often lands it in trouble.
It's also touched by genius. There's
no denying that something's
fundamentally haywire with the end
of Huck Finn — yet look closer and
see if it isn't a flaw common to every
imperfect life. Huck and Jim have
gone wrong after the fork, they've
overshot something crucial, they've
lost their way and don't know how
to get back.
Who among us hasn't felt the same?
Twain certainly should have. He
published his best book at 50 but
lived to nearly 75.
Seen this way, Tom and Huck's
Mississippi River becomes an
endlessly renewable metaphor.
Twain saw as clearly as anybody
that as Americans we're all on this
raft together, afloat between oceans,
crewed by oarsmen of more than
one color, tippy but not aground,
E.W. Kemble's Huck from the first edition of
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1885
National Endowment for the Arts • THE BIG READ 9
Twain on Film, and Elsewhere
BY DAVID KIPEN
The perennial popularity of Mark
Twain and his characters ensures
a steady stream of successors to
the already more than a hundred
adaptations of his work, not
excluding versions of Tom Sawyer
filmed in Russia, Japan, and
Romania. None of these can be
called a masterpiece, nor can the
multiple movies of Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and
the Pauper, or A Connecticut Yankee
in King Arthurs Court. But even
the most wrongheaded of them
can kickstart a conversation about
how not to betray a beloved book
on screen, and a few have some
delightful performances. There are
also some howlingly awful ones —
most attributable to child actors,
cast mainly for their cuteness,
trying and failing to nail Twain's
anachronistic Pike County dialect
The early 1980s brought a spate of
Twain adaptations on PBS from
screenwriter Philip H. Reisman,
Jr., and director Peter H. Hunt.
They collaborated on a creditable
Life on the Mississippi (1980)
followed by a Peabody Award-
winning short film of "The Private
History of a Campaign That
Junior Durkin (left) and Jackie Coogan swap
fish stories as they play the roles of Huck
and Tom in the 1 930 film Tom Sawyer.
Failed" (1981) for the National
Endowment for the Humanities-
underwritten American Short Story
series. Separately, Reisman wrote a
well-received version ofPudd'nhead
Wilson (1984), with Ken Howard
of The White Shadow in the title
role. Meanwhile Hunt directed
a version of "The Mysterious
Stranger" (1982), something called
| THE BIG READ • National Endowment for the Arts
Sawyer and Finn (1983), and,
best of all, a long, stunning 1985
version of Huck Finn (take your
pick between 108- and 213-minute
cuts) starring Samm-Art Williams
and Harry Potter audiobook reader
Twain's life has served as fodder
for at least three biographical
films: Ken Burns's impeccable PBS
documentary Mark Twain (2001);
The Adventures of Mark Twain
(1944), with Fredric
March donning the white suit
and fright wig; and the gold
standard, Hal Holbrook's
1967 film of his one-man
show Mark Twain Tonight!
For the original stage version,
Holbrook lovingly cobbled
together choice stories and
observations from Twain's
own writings and lectures. After
performing varying versions
of the show for decades, he
ultimately wound up with
untold hours of memorized
Twain from which to
choose — all the while
puffing on Twain's
ever-present cigar for
punctuation. In any
medium, Mark Twain
perhaps the best tribute to Twain,
a man who always flirted with
fame as a playwright (and won it
again in 2007 for Is He Dead?, as
reconceived by David Ives) but
setded for inventing the American
performs as Mark
Twain in his one-man
show Mark Twain
THE BIG READ
Twain and His Other Works
Mark Twain started out
writing just for
himself — and wound
up that way too. In
between he attempted
nearly every genre,
found success at most
of them, and all but
fiction and travel literature
Twain honed his style while
writing for the
the Western gold
and silver booms.
Somewhere, in a
Saratoga trunk up in
the Sierra Nevada,
probably lie as many
lost Twain newspaper
columns as have already
been found. Until they
surface, more than enough early
newspaper sketches survive that a
reader can still watch a precocious
riverfront kid turn a little more into
Mark Twain with each byline.
He always remained more
comfortable with sprints than
with marathons. His first attempts
at fiction took the form of short
stories. What came to be called
"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of
Calaveras County" (1865) made his
name, and, even to the end of his
life, Twain probably found short
fiction more congenial than the
Twain revolutionized travel writing
with The Innocents Abroad ( 1 869) .
The book started out as journalistic
letters, but he reworked, padded,
| 2 THE BIG READ • National Endowment for the Arts
and finessed them extensively upon
his return from the Middle East.
The result anticipates the so-called
New Journalism in its insistence
on the writer's experience as no less
important than his itinerary.
After the huge success of The
Innocents Abroad, Twain applied
the same style to a sojourn he'd
already taken. Roughing It (1872)
hysterically encapsulates Twain's
years in the West, and some of its
episodes rival any travel literature
for description, characterization, and
Some critics dismiss The Prince and
the Pauper (1881) and A Connecticut
Yankee in King Arthurs Court
(1889) as toss-offs, written more for
his daughters than for the ages. But
the former numbers among his few
durable, well-carpentered plots, and
the latter ends with surely the most
age-inappropriate bloodbath in the
annals of children's literature.
Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894) remains
a fascinating curiosity and Twain's
most direct consideration of slavery.
The plot machinery has a tendency
to clank, but the very lack of a
settled consensus about its meaning
and worth makes it irresistible
reading. In it Twain rewrites the
switched-doubles plot of The Prince
and the Pauper, only this time he
emphasizes the racial tension of
Several of Twain's last essays never
saw print in his lifetime. They were
blistering, so misanthropic that few
would have recognized them as the
work of America's beloved white-
suited grandpa. Yet these broadsides
too are Mark Twain and, for those
who can take them, stand among
his strongest work.
National Endowment for the Arts • THE BIG READ | 3
How do you think American
childhood has and hasn't
changed since the 1840s?
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
was already a historical novel
when it was written, fully 30
years after it is set. Does it feel
realistic or nostalgic?
Between Tom and Huck,
who's more of an oudaw and
who's a conformist?
Who emerges with more
dimension in the book,
African Americans or Native
Americans? Can you detect
any hints of Twain's late-career
How might the fence in Aunt
Polly's yard serve as a symbol?
What might be implied
by Tom getting others to
"whitewash" the fence for him?
How old are Tom and his
classmates? Do they behave
convincingly for their age?
Why do you think Twain
made Tom an orphan?
Which do you enjoy more,
Twain's dialogue or his
descriptions? How does one
complement the other?
9. If you could eavesdrop on
your own funeral, what do you
think you would hear?
10. Find a sentence that makes
you laugh out loud. Change
one word. Is it as funny? If
not, why not? If so, change
one word at a time until the
joke weakens or dies. What
made it work before?
1 1 . What important roles did
Huck and Becky play in
Tom's success, even though
Tom is celebrated as the
12. Tom makes a difficult decision
when he tells the truth about
the murder. Compare the way
he comes to his decision with
Huck's choice to help Jim in
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
How does Tom's motivation
differ from Huck's?
13. Some readers believe that
Tom develops a conscience by
the end of the novel. Do you
agree? Is there evidence
to suggest that Tom has
| 4 THE BIG READ • National Endowment for the Arts
TWAIN ON WRITING
"God only exhibits his thunder
and lightning at intervals, and so
they always command attention.
These are God's adjectives. You
thunder and lightning too much;
the reader ceases to get under
the bed, by and by."
— from an 1878 letter to his brother Orion
"There is no such thing as 'the
Queen's English.' The property
has gone into the hands of a
joint stock company and we
own the bulk of the shares!"
— from Following the Equator^ 1897
"No sir, not a day's work in all
my life. What I have done I have
done because it has been play.
If it had been work I shouldn't
have done it."
— from a 1905 interview
1 never write 'metropolis' for
seven cents, because I can get
the same money for 'city.'
I never write 'policeman,'
because I can get the same
price for 'cop.'"
— from a 1906 speech, "Spelling and Pictures"
National Endowment for the Arts • THE BIG READ | 5
Selected Works by Mark Twain
The Innocents Abroad, 1869 (travel)
Roughing It, 1872 (travel)
The Adventures of Tom
Sawyer, 1876 (novel)
The Prince and the Pauper,
Life on the Mississippi, 1883
Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn, 1885 (novel)
A Connecticut Yankee in King
Arthurs Court, 1889 (novel)
Pudd'nhead Wilson, 1 894 (novel)
The Autobiography of Mark
Twain, 1924 (memoir)
The Oxford Mark Twain, 1997
(29-volume collection of works
published in Twain's lifetime)
Works about Mark Twain
Kaplan, Justin. Mr. Clemens and
Mark Twain: A Biography. New
York: Simon & Schuster, 1966.
Powers, Ron. Mark Twain: A Life.
New York: Free Press, 2005.
Ward, Geoffrey C, Dayton
Duncan, and Ken Burns. Mark
Twain: An Illustrated Biography.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001.
Mark Twain relaxes on a
ship deck, 1901.
Mark Twain House and Museum
Headquartered in Mark Twain's former
home in Hartford, Connecticut, the
Mark Twain House and Museum seeks
to foster an appreciation of the legacy of
Mark Twain as one of America's defining
www. marktwainhouse. org
Ken Burns's Mark Twain
The companion to Ken Burns's 2001
documentary, this website presents a
chronology, classroom activities, selected
writings, and additional resources on Mark
Twain and his work.
Mark Twain Project
A collaboration between the Mark Twain
Papers and Project of The Bancroft
Library, the California Digital Library,
and the University of California Press, this
website contains reliable texts, accurate and
exhaustive notes, and the most recently
discovered letters and documents.
www. marktwainproject. org
| 6 THE BIG READ • National Endowment for the Arts
FOR THE ARTS
A great nation
deserves great art.
>;I . . INSTITUTE 0/ , ..
The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to
supporting excellence in the arts — both new and established — bringing the
arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established
by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the
Endowment is the nation's largest annual hinder of the arts, bringing great art
to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of
federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The
Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect
people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and
in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture,
and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional
Arts Midwest connects people throughout the Midwest and the world to
meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge, and understanding
across boundaries. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the
United States, Arts Midwest's history spans more than 25 years.
Additional support for The Big Read has also been provided by the
W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Green Hills of Africa. New York; Charles Scribner's Sons, 1935.
Twain, Mark. Mississippi Writings: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi, Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn, Pudd'nhead Wilson. New York Library of America, 1982.
. Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, and Essays. New York Library of America, 1992.
Kaplan, Justin. Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography. New York; Simon & Schuster, 1966.
Powers, Ron. Mark Twain: A Life. New York; Free Press, 2005.
David Kipen, NEA Director of Literature, National Reading Initiatives
Writer: David Kipen for the National Endowment for the Arts, with a preface by Dana Gioia
Series Editor: Erika Koss for the National Endowment for the Arts
Image Editor: Dan Brady for the National Endowment for the Arts
Graphic Design: Fletcher Design/Washington, DC
Cover Portrait: John Sherffius for The Big Read. Inside Front Coven Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Page 1: Caricature of Dana
Gioia by John Sherffius for The Big Read. Page 2: Both images courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum. Page 4: Tom Sawyer
White Washing the Fence from the Norman Rockwell illustrated edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has been reproduced with
the permission of Easton Press. Image provided by the Farnsworth Museum. Page 5: Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Pages 6-7:
Courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum. Page 8: Image of Tom Sawyer courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum.
Page 9: Image of Huck Finn courtesy of the Library of Congress. Page 10: ©John Springer Collection/Corbis. Page 1 1: Courtesy of
Vining Productions, Inc. Page 12: Courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum. Page 15: Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Page 16: ©Betrmann/Corbis.
This publication is published by:
National Endowment for the Arts • 1 100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. • Washington, DC 20506-0001
(202) 682-5400 • www.nea.gov
FOR THE ARTS
He had discovered a great
law of human action, without
knowing it — namely, that in
order to make a man or a
boy covet a thing, it is only
necessary to make the thing
difficult to attain."
from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Big Read is an initiative of the National
Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading
to the center of American culture. The NEA presents
The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of
Museum and Library Services and in cooperation
with Arts Midwest.
A great nation deserves great art.