Synopses & Reviews
"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Mark Twain said at the top of an 1865 letter to his brother, for I don't want any absurd 'literary remains' and 'unpublished letters of Mark Twain' published after I am planted."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.
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.