Mark Twain: The Adventures of Samuel L. Clemens / Edition 1

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Mark Twain, who was often photographed with a cigar, once remarked that he came into the world looking for a light. In this new biography, published on the centennial of the writer’s death, Jerome Loving focuses on Mark Twain, humorist and quipster, and sheds new light on the wit, pathos, and tragedy of the author of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In brisk and compelling fashion, Loving follows Twain from Hannibal to Hawaii to the Holy Land, showing how the southerner transformed himself into a westerner and finally a New Englander. This re-examination of Twain’s life is informed by newly discovered archival materials that provide the most complex view of the man and writer to date.
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Editorial Reviews

New York Review Of Books

"An informative new biography."
San Francisco Chronicle

“Funny and informative. . . . This could be the biography of the season.”
Wall Street Journal

“Excellent. . . . The biographer proves an adept guide.”
Studies In American Humor - James E. Caron

“Mark Twain: The Adventures of Samuel L. Clemens works well for the general reader.”
Toronto Globe & Mail

“Funny, fresh, and informative.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Provocative and well-reasoned.”

“A fresh interpretive perspective. . . . Readers will value this portrait of a peripatetic genius traversing a wide swath of American culture.”
New Yorker

"Bids fair, as they used to say, to be a standard life."
Library Journal
Decades ago Bernard DeVoto wrote that Mark Twain's humor promoted tragic laughter. Twain preferred to be known as a serious writer rather than a humorist. When Twain was on the lecture circuit, however, it was his humor that produced the crowds and the money. Before the mass appeal of his writings and his lectures (both earlier and later), Twain worked as a printer, a river pilot for four years, a newspaper reporter, and a travel writer. Many of these "adventures" are recorded in this new work by Loving (English, Texas A&M University), a scholar of 19th-century American literature. His focus is the man and the writer, not exactly a new approach. However, Loving's use of new material reveals more of the emotional element in Twain's writing and the personal travails of his peripatetic life. VERDICT Perhaps the most respected Twain biographer is Henry Nash Smith. But Loving's new work sheds additional light on this enigmatic, enduring icon of dark and sometimes tragic laughter.—Robert Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN
Dennis Drabelle
In the wake of two excellent Twain biographies published in the aughts—Ron Powers's Mark Twain: A Life and Fred Kaplan's The Singular Mark Twain—Jerome Loving had a lot of nerve to undertake yet another. But Loving's Mark Twain not only holds its own with those predecessors; in some ways, it surpasses them. Concision is one such way. Whereas both Powers and Kaplan take over 600 pages to bag their man, Loving gets the job done in under 500. Never losing sight of the main reason we want to read about Twain—his literary genius—Loving brings some unjustly neglected works to the reader's attention.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In the latest volume for the centennial of Twain's death, Loving (Walt Whitman: Song of Himself) serves up a balanced literary biography of a crowded life—“to renew our acquaintance with this familiar stranger in our literature and culture.” Many of the best chapters include sensitive appraisals of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, and the anonymously published Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer put in a different context as possibly the most overrated work of American fiction when considered as adult literature. In fact, this Mark Twain flows with the easy familiarity of a scholar who has spent a lifetime tracking 19th-century American literature. Of certain interest is the discussion, at various points, of Twain's complex views on blacks and slavery, Native Americans, the Chinese, and—particularly from the standpoint of his home in fin-de-siècle Vienna—on Jews. If this biography of Clemens's many adventures fails to delve “psychologically” into the writer's family and other relationships, it is a solid contribution to literary interpretation of the man who infused American literature with what has been called “tragic laughter.” 37 b&w photos. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520252578
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 492
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerome Loving, Distinguished Professor of English at Texas A&M University, is the author of Walt Whitman: Song of Himself and The Last Titan: A Life of Theodore Dreiser, both from UC Press.
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Table of Contents

Chronology of the Life and Works of Mark Twain

I. Humorist in the West
1. Life on the Salt River
2. Window to the West
3. Orion
4. Southwest Humorist
5. Tramp Printer
6. Cub Pilot
7. Death on the Mississippi
8. Fetching Grant
9. Lighting Out
10. A Millionaire for Ten Days
11. “Mark Twain”
12. Governor of the Third House
13. The Jumping Frog
14. Vandal Abroad
15. Wild Humorist of the Pacific Slope
II. Writer in the East
16. Westerner in the East
17. Pilgrims on the Loose
18. Love in a Locket
19. The Innocent at Home
20. False Start in Buffalo
21. Back on the Lecture Circuit
22. Home in Hartford
23. Sequel to a Success
24. A Book about the English
25. Colonel Sellers
26. Mississippi Memories
27. The Riley Book
28. Banned in Boston
29. The Innocent Abroad Again
30. Down and Out in Paris and London
III. The Artist and the Businessman
31. Associations New and Old
32. Return to the River and the Lecture Circuit
33. Mark Twain and the Phunny Phellows
34. Webster and Paige
35. A Romance of the White Conscience
36. Publishing Grant
37. Brooding in King Arthur's Court
38. Progress and Poverty
39. Europe on Only Dollars a Day
40. A Dream Sold down the River
41. Family Matters
42. A Friend at Standard Oil
43. Broken Twigs and Found Canoes
44. Back Home and Overland
45. Lost in the British Empire
46. Mark Twain's Daughter
IV. The Mysterious Stranger
47. City of Dreams
48. Winter Fantasies
49. Weary Sojourners
50. Exile's Return
51. Homeless
52. A Death in Florence

Appendix A. Clemens Genealogy
Appendix B. Books Published by Charles L. Webster & Company

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Liberal Slant

    There tends to be a modern-liberal slant here but it is well written.

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    Posted March 23, 2010

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