A Great and Sublime Fool: The Story of Mark Twain

Overview

Mark Twain is one of America's most celebrated authors. Known for his sharp wit and his beloved books-The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee Arthur's Court, and many others-Twain was one of the most popular figures of his day, and his work remains widely read. Twain's own life, though, was filled with drama and adventure, and often was the source and inspiration for his works.

Born Samuel Clemens in Florida, Missouri, Twain, even ...

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Overview

Mark Twain is one of America's most celebrated authors. Known for his sharp wit and his beloved books-The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee Arthur's Court, and many others-Twain was one of the most popular figures of his day, and his work remains widely read. Twain's own life, though, was filled with drama and adventure, and often was the source and inspiration for his works.

Born Samuel Clemens in Florida, Missouri, Twain, even as a child, sought freedom and adventure. Whether it was running away from home aboard a steamship, or accidentally rolling a boulder into a local office building with his best friend, Twain always tried to life to the fullest. As an adult, he set out traveling America, making his way to New Orleans, New York, and then California, hoping to cash in on the Gold Rush. Through it all, he wrote articles and letters, often printed in his brother's newspaper, and gradually came to realize that he had a talent for writing, and might use that talent to make a living.

After gaining some fame with travel books and essays, Twain tried his hand at being a novelist, and found even more success, thrilling children with his stories of adventure and mischief, and amusing adults with his keen satirical eye and wit. His life, though, was still filled with drama and misadventure. Throughout it all, Twain always maintained a warm but incisive humor for which he remains beloved and respected.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
The author of this biography, which is part of the "World Writers" series, has the difficult task of trying to do justice to one of America's most vibrant writers in a brief form for young adults. Twain led a restless life, full of drama, financial crises, death, and guilt, as well as great accomplishments. Several chapters describe his youth as Samuel Clemens, including childhood friends, pranks, family misfortunes, and his time on the Mississippi. Other sections introduce readers to his early attempts at writing, the development of his storytelling powers, and his unique style of humor. Clemens was always on the move, making it difficult to keep up with his whereabouts as he searched for personal freedom and elusive wealth. Evading recruiters during the Civil War, Clemens went west, affording new opportunities for journalism and travel, which inspired his first successes. Marriage to his beloved but delicate Livy, her illness, and three difficult daughters brought suffering enough for a novel, but did not deter the resilient author, now Mark Twain, from writing his greatest books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Although he did achieve success and fame, young readers may find this account depressing, as Twain staggers from incessant lecture tours, to financial failure, to multiple family funerals, finally giving way to despair in his later years. His literary works are briefly described; illustrations, mostly photographs, add interest to the relentlessly plodding text. The liveliest words are inevitably those of Mark Twain himself. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–In this clear and lively biography, Caravantes discusses her subject’s childhood adventures in Missouri, which later became the basis for his short stories and novels. Throughout his life, he loved to travel and wrote many detailed letters from the road, which were often printed in various newspapers. He earned his river pilot’s license and navigated the Mississippi River, taking the pen name of Mark Twain from a nautical expression. The author recounts how Clemens’s wife and four children were important parts of his life and describes the period of deep depression he suffered after the deaths of his wife and two daughters. His financial struggles brought on by faulty investments and failed inventions are also mentioned. The author offers a straightforward chronological glimpse of the man behind the larger-than-life legend of Mark Twain. The black-and-white and full-color photographs and reproductions enliven the presentation, and a lengthy time line and source notes make this a good resource for reports.–Ann Nored, Wilson Central High School, Lebanon, TN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599350882
  • Publisher: Morgan Reynolds Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/2010
  • Series: World Writers Series
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Family Ties 11

2 Apprenticeship 25

3 Traveler 41

4 Courtship and Marriage 63

5 Author and Investor 83

6 Financial Struggles 104

7 Trobling Times 122

8 Halley's Comet Comes Again 141

Timeline 155

Sources 161

Bibliography 170

Web Sites 173

Index 174

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