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Who Is Mark Twain?


Who Is Mark Twain? Cover

ISBN13: 9780061735004
ISBN10: 0061735000
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Less Than Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"You had better shove this in the stove," Mark Twain said at the top of an 1865 letter to his brother, for I don't want any absurd 'literary remains' and 'unpublished letters of Mark Twain' published after I am planted." He was joking, of course. But when Mark Twain died in 1910, he left behind the largest collection of personal papers created by any nineteenth-century American author.

Here, for the first time in book form, are twenty-four remarkable pieces by the American master — pieces that have been handpicked by Robert Hirst, general editor of the Mark Twain Project at the University of California, Berkeley. In Jane Austen, Twain wonders if Austen's goal is to make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters. The Privilege of the Grave offers a powerful statement about the freedom of speech while Happy Memories of the Dental Chair will make you appreciate modern dentistry. In Frank Fuller and My First New York Lecture Twain plasters the city with ads to promote his talk at the Cooper Union (he is terrified no one will attend). Later that day, Twain encounters two men gazing at one of his ads. One man says to the other: Who is Mark Twain? The other responds: God knows — I don't.

Wickedly funny and disarmingly relevant, Who Is Mark Twain? shines a new light on one of America's most beloved literary icons — a man who was well ahead of his time.


The Latin phrase "disjecta membra" means "scattered fragments," and, while an accurate assessment of "Who Is Mark Twain?," it does sound rather scholarly and high-flown. But then this book of hitherto unpublished pieces is being brought out under the august aegis of the Mark Twain Project, Bancroft Library, at the University of California at Berkeley. They probably know Latin there. Besides, "disjecta... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)


"Who Is Mark Twain? is a refreshing reintroduction to both [Twain's] critical analytical thought and his playful sense of humor." Los Angeles Times

About the Author

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born on November 30, 1835, in the village of Florida, Missouri. He attended the ordinary western common school until he was twelve, the last of his formal schooling. He became a typesetter and began work on his brother's Hannibal newspaper, publishing his first humorous sketch in 1851. During the next fifteen years he was successively a steamboat pilot, a soldier for three weeks, a silver miner, a newspaper reporter, and a bohemian in San Francisco known as "Mark Twain." At no time during these years did he seriously entertain a career in literature. But in 1865, deeply in debt, he acknowledged a talent for "literature, of a low order, i.e., humorous." In the next forty years, he published more than a dozen books and hundreds of shorter works, including his masterpiece in 1885, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Jennifer Knighton, April 4, 2011 (view all comments by Jennifer Knighton)
Twain has been one of my favorite authors since I was little - and not for the Tom Sawyers and Huck Finns that showed up everywhere. I was a sucker for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Roughing it. I have never read such an accurate description of a coyote before Roughing it. His life was in many ways far more interesting than his writing, and even as an historian it is hard for me to say that about many people. If you don't believe me, look up the history of the State Seal of the State of Nevada.
It's great to see a book which seems to grasp the fascinating stories behind a writer of fascinating stories.
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Craig Ensz, January 16, 2011 (view all comments by Craig Ensz)
A wonderfully written and insightful book. Many things about Twain, whether he wanted them published or not, show a side of the great American author. He deals with other authors and comments on subject relevant then and today. A great read.
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(8 of 16 readers found this comment helpful)
Alice Geron, April 23, 2009 (view all comments by Alice Geron)
When did the critics decide Huck Finn was Twain's "masterpiece"? When I was a kid (in the thirties!) it was always "Tom Sawyer" which was rated first!
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Product Details

Twain, Mark
Short Stories (single author)
Humorous stories, American
American - General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8 x 5 x 0.85 in 11.04 oz

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Who Is Mark Twain? Used Hardcover
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Product details 240 pages Harperstudio - English 9780061735004 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Who Is Mark Twain? is a refreshing reintroduction to both [Twain's] critical analytical thought and his playful sense of humor."
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