Mark Twain A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Writings

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New York, New York, U.S.A. 1995 Hardcover New 0816028451. FLAWLESS COPY, AVOID WEEKS OF DELAY ELSEWHERE. --clean and crisp, tight and bright pages, with no writing or markings ... to the text. Read more Show Less

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Until now, tracking down information on Mark Twain's complex life and numerous works was a time-consuming and arduous process. No longer, now that R. Kent Rasmussen has undertaken the herculean task of writing and compiling Mark Twin A to Z-- a comp-rehensive, single-volume reference to this great American writer's live and times.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Amazingly a one-man work, this unobtrusively cross-referenced encyclopedia of Twainiana focuses not on the whys and hows but rather on the myriad whos, whats, and whens of Twain's life. From three lines to several pages, each detail-packed entry is a comprehensive piece of a prodigious life. Readers who want to know the origin of the term blatherskite (and precisely where Twain uses it in his fiction) or need a synopsis of every chapter in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (and its background and publication history) will find it here. Twain's literary characters, every fiction large and small, childhood friends in Hannibal, adult business associates, riverboats Twain piloted, inventions he tinkered with-all are covered. A fascinating and unique volume recommended for every library with a Twain collection. [The publisher also offers other "A to Z" encyclopedias on literary figures, most recently James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.-Ed.]-Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, Mo.
Zom Zoms
As the excitement generated by the recent publication of a previously unknown episode written for "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" demonstrates, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) continues to enjoy a wide and devoted audience. The proliferation of Twain sources on the Internet further reflects the intensity of contemporary scholarly and popular interest in this colorful, intriguing, and enigmatic writer Obviously a labor of love (Rasmussen indicates that he has read each of Twain's works at least four times), this compilation covers Twain's life and publications in painstaking detail, beginning with the steamboat "A.B. Chambers", which Twain once piloted, and ending with the French novelist Emile Zola, on whom Twain penned a critical essay. Rasmussen, formerly an associate editor of the Marcus Garvey papers at UCLA, notes that his intention is to provide factual information rather than analysis and interpretation. Consequently, the nearly 1,300 entries are devoted primarily to proper names relating to Twain, including titles of all of his major and many of his minor works; characters and fictional locales; his family, friends, and associates; places he lived or visited; publishers and illustrators of his works; and periodicals in which he published. Only a small percentage of entries is more general in nature, such as those pertaining to motifs in Twain's works ("Dueling", "Haunted Houses"), literary devices ("Frame-Story", "Soliloquy"), or subjects that had a significant impact on Twain's life ("Cholera", "Steamboats"). The most extensive entries are those devoted to Twain's more widely read works. Each of these provides an introduction to the work (including a word count), a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, and a publication history. Cross-references within entries guide users to other pertinent articles Approximately 130 black-and-white illustrations, including photographs of Twain and illustrations from his works, appear near relevant entries throughout the text. Among other useful features are a full-page map of the U.S. that reflects the places where Twain lived and traveled, an extensive chronological chart that juxtaposes personal and professional details about each year of Twain's life with major historical and literary events, and bibliographies of first editions of Twain's works and selected secondary sources The 21-page index is remarkable for its degree of detail and its precision. Not only does it include the customary entries for titles, names, and subjects, but it also provides access to a variety of collective categories. For example, the heading "trial scenes" lists characters involved in such scenes and works in which they appear, while the heading "unfinished works" lists all titles that fall into that category. This is a particularly valuable feature since the entry headers in the encyclopedia itself are so specific In his introduction, Rasmussen observes that a single reference book about Mark Twain "cannot encompass everything about him that one might wish to know." Ostensibly, he is explaining any omissions in his own work, but he could also be rationalizing its publication so soon after the well-received "Mark Twain Encyclopedia" ["RBB" O 15 93]. While there is considerable overlap between the two works, each has its own unique features and strengths. Containing fewer entries, but offering a more integrated approach, the "MTE" is particularly valuable for its inclusion of numerous topical essays that address such matters as Twain's literary style, his political and social views, and recurrent themes in his works. On the other hand, "Mark Twain AZ" provides more thorough coverage of specific works and of both fictional and real people and places. Large libraries will want both volumes, but smaller libraries may need to choose which approach would better serve the needs of their users.
The arrangement of entries in an alphabetic rather than topic- oriented format is clumsy, but this reference contains a great deal of information related to Twain's life and work in clearly written brief essays. The entries include written works--with synopses and summaries of publishing history; analytical discussions of characters; and identification of key people, places, and events in Twain's business, literary, and personal life. A chronology in tabular form displays year-by-year activities with regard to residence and travel, personal and business affairs, literary output, family & friends, and literary and historical events. Includes some b&w illustrations. 8.75x11.25" Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816028450
  • Publisher: Facts on File, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/1/1995
  • Series: Literary a to Z Series
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 8.84 (w) x 11.27 (h) x 1.34 (d)

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  • Posted April 4, 2009

    If you only buy one Mark Twain reference book: Buy this one!

    Posted 4/4/2009: There are many Mark Twain books that collect photos, illustrations, and text from Mark Twain's original works, but Mark Twain A to Z is the first to be so inclusive, so well organized, and so well documented. Rasmussen has assembled a gorgeous encyclopedia of everything Mark Twain: not only a complete reference to all of his writings, but also his personal life and friends. And of course the time lines, photographs, historical references, and Rasmussen's excellent analysis and easygoing style. A reference book that is so interesting that looking up one thing can lead to an hour of pleasurable readint that, unlike most of the genre, "you can't put down."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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