BN.com Gift Guide

The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature

( 1 )

Overview


An extraordinary portrait of a fast-changing America—and the Western writers who gave voice to its emerging identity

At once an intimate portrait of an unforgettable group of writers and a history of a cultural revolution in America, The Bohemians reveals how a brief moment on the far western frontier changed our culture forever. Beginning with Mark Twain’s arrival in San Francisco in 1863, this group biography introduces readers to the other young eccentric writers seeking to ...

See more details below
Hardcover
$20.55
BN.com price
(Save 26%)$27.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (36) from $3.73   
  • New (20) from $4.20   
  • Used (16) from $3.73   
The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$14.99
BN.com price

Overview


An extraordinary portrait of a fast-changing America—and the Western writers who gave voice to its emerging identity

At once an intimate portrait of an unforgettable group of writers and a history of a cultural revolution in America, The Bohemians reveals how a brief moment on the far western frontier changed our culture forever. Beginning with Mark Twain’s arrival in San Francisco in 1863, this group biography introduces readers to the other young eccentric writers seeking to create a new American voice at the country’s edge—literary golden boy Bret Harte; struggling gay poet Charles Warren Stoddard; and beautiful, haunted Ina Coolbrith, poet and protector of the group. Ben Tarnoff’s elegant, atmospheric history reveals how these four pioneering writers helped spread the Bohemian movement throughout the world, transforming American literature along the way.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Bret Harte once wrote, "Bohemia has never been located geographically," a statement that some might find odd because Harte himself had been associated with not one, but two major bohemian uprisings: one in lower Manhattan and the other in San Francisco. But as Ben Tarnoff's brilliant new history reveals, Harte was both right and wrong: Literary Bohemia is both locale-specific and inextricably connected with all the others. Thus, The Bohemians displays a rich literary movement in the act of blooming even as it shows how the four writers it features (Mark Twain, Harte, Ina Coolbrith, and Charles Warren Stoddard) changed the face of our national culture. Tarnoff's subject is fascinating, but I would be remiss if I failed to mention his nuanced, even poetic writing. More than once I paid his prose the ultimate compliment: To linger on its rich cadences and metaphors, I read entire passages aloud myself.

—R.J. Wilson, Bookseller, #1002, New York NY

Publishers Weekly
01/13/2014
Tarnoff’s (A Counterfeiter’s Paradise) glimmering prose lends grandeur to this account of four writers (Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, and Ina Coolbrith) who built “an extraordinary literary scene” in the frontier boom town of 1860s San Francisco. Twain gets the most page time, but is the least delicately handled; Tarnoff reserves his affection for the city itself and its “community of fellow misfits” who, drawing on the unique energy of young California and the language, humor, and mythology of the West, create a “native national literature, liberated from the cultural imperialism of the Old World.” While the revolutionary claims are ambitious—Twain’s jumping frog of Calaveras County is “the Fort Sumter of American letters,” his The Innocents Abroad “a bullet in the heart of America’s literary establishment”—Tarnoff thoughtfully situates the rise of “a unique American vernacular” in a confluence of economic, geographic, and historical forces. The impacts of the self-styled Bohemians emerge most clearly in the nostalgic reflections of the chief characters only after they have left San Francisco for parts abroad. Nevertheless, the lively historical detail and loving tone of the interwoven biographies make a highly readable story of this formative time in American letters, starring San Francisco as the city that lifted Twain “to literary greatness.” Photos. Agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-05
Four ambitious writers star in this literary history. Journalist Tarnoff (A Counterfeiter's Paradise: The Wicked Lives and Surprising Adventures of Three Early American Moneymakers, 2011) tells a lively story of mid-19th-century San Francisco, focused on champagne-swilling Mark Twain, foppish Bret Harte, poet and essayist Charles Warren Stoddard, and little-remembered poet Ina Coolbrith. Despite the book's hyperbolic subtitle, Tarnoff does not make a case for these writers' revolutionary impact on American literature; nor, in fact, that Stoddard and Coolbrith had any impact at all. In the 1860s, Harte was well-known for humorous short stories about California life, but by 1871, when he came East for a speaking tour, his career was over. "It was the corpse of that Bret Harte that swept in splendor across the continent," Mark Twain announced. Although Twain had by then reconciled with his one-time rival, he did not mourn Harte's literary downfall. His star was rising, partly due to his recognition by William Dean Howells, the influential editor of the Atlantic Monthly; partly due to his status as a brilliant performer who attracted huge audiences to his one-man shows; partly due to the fact that readers east of the Mississippi were enthralled by fiction set on the raunchy frontier. Exuberant stories gave the young nation new myths, establishing the West as "a place of paradox and incongruity, where conventional rules of sentiment and syntax broke down, and humor overlaid everything." Twain proved to be a master of this new genre. In such works as Innocents Abroad, a best-seller in 1869, Twain's characters were ordinary middle Americans, honest, open and free of an old-world veneer of sophistication: "They belonged to a country of the future: an innovative, economically ascendant nation with a style all its own." It may be, as Tarnoff asserts, that these writers spent the best years of their lives in California, but only Twain, living in New York and Connecticut, left a lasting literary legacy.
Library Journal
02/15/2014
San Francisco-based Tarnoff (A Counterfeiter's Paradise) chronicles the lives of four American writers—a young Mark Twain falls in with rising literary star Bret Harte, poet Charles Stoddard, and dark poetess Ina Coolbirth—living in the Bay Area from the early 1860s to 1878, a tumultuous time of boom and bust. Together, these "so-called Bohemians" carouse, chase fame, and heavily influence one another's work. Harte eventually takes on a mentorship role, becomes editor of The Overland, but ultimately his self-absorbed personality effectively dissolves the group. In the book's first half, Tarnoff successfully paints a grand portrait of San Francisco, bringing to life the friendship and rivalry of the writers. While the latter half of this title lacks the spirit infused into its beginning, Tarnoff describes admirably Twain's growth following his departure from the West Coast and his courtship of Olivia Langdon. Particular attention is paid to Twain's evolution from story writer to star author, with his publication of The Innocents Abroad in 1869. VERDICT Readers hoping for a work wholly dedicated to the writers living in San Francisco during the period may be somewhat disappointed, as two of the four are not in the city for half of the years covered in the book. Recommended for fans of the authors, particularly Harte and Twain, and readers of American history, biography, and American literary history. [See Prepub Alert, 10/1/13.]—Benjamin Brudner, Curry Coll. Lib., Milton, MA
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594204739
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/20/2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 158,758
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author


BEN TARNOFF is the author of A Counterfeiter’s Paradise. He has written for the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. He lives in New York City.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2014

    thoroughly enjoyable

    Skillfully captured a part of history of America through a literary lens and focus on California. Meticulously researched and well presented, even the word choice brought delight. Truly an interesting read. I gave it as two gifts even before i had finished it myself.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)