Mark Twain: Selected Writings of an American Skeptic / Edition 1

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Overview

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) commands an important place in the public mind. Many Americans feel a natural and easy identification with this popular literary figure. Twain's humor, his wit, and his social concern endear him to countless Americans who think of him as "one of us."

For the general reader, this collection provides a convenient resource that will spark many debates. It will convince scholars of American literature that Clemens was a skeptic for most of his life.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A comprehensive alphabetical reference (acid rain to wetland) that examines antipollution law, including statutes and court cases, legal terms and concepts, key regulatory figures and agencies, and environmental issues and organizations. Includes an introduction; tables of cases, statutes, and regulations; a bibliography; and an general subject index. For high school and college students. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879759728
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Twain
Riverboat pilot, journalist, failed businessman (several times over): Samuel Clemens -- the man behind the figure of “Mark Twain” -- led many lives. But it was in his novels and short stories that he created a voice and an outlook on life that will be forever identified with the American character.

Biography

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri; his family moved to the port town of Hannibal four years later. His father, an unsuccessful farmer, died when Twain was eleven. Soon afterward the boy began working as an apprentice printer, and by age sixteen he was writing newspaper sketches. He left Hannibal at eighteen to work as an itinerant printer in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. From 1857 to 1861 he worked on Mississippi steamboats, advancing from cub pilot to licensed pilot.

After river shipping was interrupted by the Civil War, Twain headed west with his brother Orion, who had been appointed secretary to the Nevada Territory. Settling in Carson City, he tried his luck at prospecting and wrote humorous pieces for a range of newspapers. Around this time he first began using the pseudonym Mark Twain, derived from a riverboat term. Relocating to San Francisco, he became a regular newspaper correspondent and a contributor to the literary magazine the Golden Era. He made a five-month journey to Hawaii in 1866 and the following year traveled to Europe to report on the first organized tourist cruise. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches (1867) consolidated his growing reputation as humorist and lecturer.

After his marriage to Livy Langdon, Twain settled first in Buffalo, New York, and then for two decades in Hartford, Connecticut. His European sketches were expanded into The Innocents Abroad (1869), followed by Roughing It (1872), an account of his Western adventures; both were enormously successful. Twain's literary triumphs were offset by often ill-advised business dealings (he sank thousands of dollars, for instance, in a failed attempt to develop a new kind of typesetting machine, and thousands more into his own ultimately unsuccessful publishing house) and unrestrained spending that left him in frequent financial difficulty, a pattern that was to persist throughout his life.

Following The Gilded Age (1873), written in collaboration with Charles Dudley Warner, Twain began a literary exploration of his childhood memories of the Mississippi, resulting in a trio of masterpieces --The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883), and finally The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), on which he had been working for nearly a decade. Another vein, of historical romance, found expression in The Prince and the Pauper (1882), the satirical A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), and Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), while he continued to draw on his travel experiences in A Tramp Abroad (1880) and Following the Equator (1897). His close associates in these years included William Dean Howells, Bret Harte, and George Washington Cable, as well as the dying Ulysses S. Grant, whom Twain encouraged to complete his memoirs, published by Twain's publishing company in 1885.

For most of the 1890s Twain lived in Europe, as his life took a darker turn with the death of his daughter Susy in 1896 and the worsening illness of his daughter Jean. The tone of Twain's writing also turned progressively more bitter. The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), a detective story hinging on the consequences of slavery, was followed by powerful anti-imperialist and anticolonial statements such as 'To the Person Sitting in Darkness' (1901), 'The War Prayer' (1905), and 'King Leopold's Soliloquy' (1905), and by the pessimistic sketches collected in the privately published What Is Man? (1906). The unfinished novel The Mysterious Stranger was perhaps the most uncompromisingly dark of all Twain's later works. In his last years, his financial troubles finally resolved, Twain settled near Redding, Connecticut, and died in his mansion, Stormfield, on April 21, 1910.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Samuel Langhorne Clemens (real name); Sieur Louis de Conte
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 30, 1835
    2. Place of Birth:
      Florida, Missouri
    1. Date of Death:
      April 21, 1910
    2. Place of Death:
      Redding, Connecticut

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Foreword: Subversive Mark Twain
Introduction: Mark Twain, American Doubter 1
I Early Writings and Travel Literature 15
Juvenilia and Early Journalism 16
The Innocents Abroad 23
Roughing It 75
II A Serious Comedian 105
Sketches New and Old 105
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 124
A Tramp Abroad 135
A Short Story: "Edward Mills and George Benton" 141
The Prince and the Pauper 146
III Prime Twain 153
Life on the Mississippi 153
Gerhardt Letter 222
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 224
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court 241
The American Claimant 275
Tom Sawyer Abroad 279
The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson 281
In Defense of Harriet Shelley 295
IV The Icy Perceptive Stare 303
Short Writings 303
The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc 324
Following the Equator 329
To the Person Sitting in Darkness 369
What Is Man? 373
Christian Science 378
V Letters 389
VI Posthumous Publications 413
A Word of Encouragement for Our Blushing Exiles 414
As Regards Patriotism 417
Bible Teaching and Religious Practice 419
The War Prayer 423
Corn-Pone Opinions 426
Letters from the Earth 430
Unpublished Autobiographical Dictation 443
Suggestions for Further Reading 449
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