Synopses & Reviews
Boyhood is the most familiar province of Mark Twain's fiction, but a reader doesn't have to look far to find feminine territory—and it's not the perfectly neat and respectable place where you'd expect to see Becky Thatcher. This is a fictional world where rather than polishing their domestic arts and waiting for marriage proposals, girls are fighting battles, riding stallions, rescuing boys from rivers, cross-dressing, debating religion, hunting, squaring off against angry bulls, or, in what may be the most flagrant flouting of Victorian convention, marrying other women. This special edition brings together the best of Twain's stories about unconventional girls and women, from Eve as she names the animals in Eden to Joan of Arc to the transvestite farce of a young man named Alice from the Wapping district of London. Whatever they're doing—bopping boys with a baseball bat in "Hellfire Hotchkiss," treating the author to a life story and a dogsled ride in "The Esquimau Maiden's Romance," or sacrificing all for the sake of a horse, as in "A Horse's Tale"—these women and girls are surprising, provocative, and irresistibly entertaining in the great Twain tradition in which they now finally take their rightful place.
"[Twain] published many stories of bold, resourceful heroines in numerous periodicals of the day, collected here by editor John Cooley. . . . [T]he stories show a growing awareness of women's changing role in society."—Washington Post Book World Washington Post Book World
"The hard-driving, horse-riding, gun-toting cowgirls are fun . . . [and] the stories in which he makes fun of sappy romance are . . . side-splitters. . . . [These stories reveal] Twain's true respect for women and in many ways his visionary insight into a future in which women get out in the world and take control of their own destinies."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times
"Cooley's collection of Twain's stories featuring independent young women tracks the writer's conflicted acknowledgment of women's changing role in society. This facet of Twain's work has never been explored in depth before, and it's a pleasure to read these sly, entertaining stories of unconventional, bold, and resourceful heroines, which include unusual variations on Eve and Saint Joan of Arc."—Booklist Booklist
"Famous for his portrayals of rambunctious boys, Twain wrote a number of short stories featuring clever, active, independent girls. This edition brings together the best of those stories, supplying entertaining and valuable primary source material for a fuller understanding of Twain's attitudes toward gender roles."—American Literature American Literature
About the Author
Mark Twain (1835-1910) was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, and drew on a boyhood spent on the Mississippi and brief careers as a journalist, river boat pilot, and prospector for material for his works, many of which are considered classics of American literature, including Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Editor and Twain scholar John Cooley is a professor of English at Western Michigan University. His books include Mark Twain's Aquarium: The Samuel Clemens Angelfish Correspondence, 1905-1910 and Earthly Words: Essays on Contemporary American Nature and Environmental Writers.