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The New York Times, September 6, 1902

Mark Twain on "Huck Finn"

It will be recalled that not long ago the Omaha public library barred out Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" on the ground that its influence upon the youthful mind was pernicious. The Omaha World-Herald sent him a telegram, which called forth the following characteristic letter:

York Beach, Me., Aug. 23. -- Dear Sir: Your telegram has arrived, but as I have already said all I want to say concerning Huck Finn's new adventures, there is no need to say it over again. I am making this remark by mail instead of telegram in order to secure speed; your courtesy requires this promptness of me. Lately it has twice taken a telegraphic dispatch four hours and a quarter to reach me here from Boston, a distance for forty or fifty miles; therefore, if I should answer you by that vehicle I estimate that it would be upward of eight days on the wire, whereas I can get it to you by mail in two.

I am tearfully afraid this noise is doing much harm. It has started a number of hitherto spotless people to reading Huck Finn, out of a natural human curiosity to learn what this is all about -- people who had not heard of him before; people whose morals will go to wreck and ruin now.

The publishers are glad, but it makes me want to borrow a handkerchief and cry. I should be sorry to think it was the publishers themselves that got up this entire little flutter to enable them to unload a book that was taking too much room in their cellars, but you never can tell what a publisher will do. I have been one myself.


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