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Library of America Mark Twain Edition

Mark Twain
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Library of America Mark Twain Edition : Titles in Order

Book 8
“Mark Twain,” William Faulkner once observed, “was the first truly American writer, and all of us since are his heirs.” In this unique collection scores of these literary legatees from the U.S. and around the world take the measure of Twain and his genius, among them: José Martí, Rudyard Kipling, Theodor Herzl, George Bernard Shaw, H. L. Mencken, Helen Keller, Jorge Luis Borges, Sterling Brown, George Orwell, T. S. Eliot, Richard Wright, W. H. Auden, Ralph Ellison, Kenzaburo Oe, Robert Penn Warren, Ursula Le Guin, Norman Mailer, Erica Jong, Gore Vidal, David Bradley, Kurt Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, Min Jin Lee, Roy Blount, Jr., and many others (including actor Hal Holbrook, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, stand-up comedians Dick Gregory and Will Rogers, and presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Barack Obama). Included are essays originally published in Chinese, Danish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and Yiddish that have not previously been available in English, as well as the work of several visual artists, such as James Montgomery Flagg (creator of the “Uncle Sam Wants You” poster), French playwright and artist Jean Cocteau, and Chuck Jones (of Bugs Bunny fame). Published to mark the centennial of Twain’s death, this collection testifies to the enduring and continuing legacy of the man William Dean Howells called “the Lincoln of our literature.”
Book 7
It was as a humorous travel writer, in The Innocents Abroad and Roughing It, that Mark Twain first became widely known, and at the height of his career he returned to the genre in the works collected here. Like those earlier books, the frequently hilarious A Tramp Abroad (1880)-based on his family’s 16-month sojourn in Europe from April 1878 to August 1879-blends autobiography and fiction, facts and tall tales. Twain’s send-up of Old World customs as well as his critical dissections of Wagnerian opera and the German language are often interlaced with American reminiscences, whether in the form of an extended discourse on the language of blue jays or the recollection of an elaborate practical joke in Hannibal, Missouri, involving a printer’s devil and a skeleton. A Tramp Abroad is presented here with the author’s original sketches.

Written at a time of financial trouble and personal loss (the death of the author’s beloved daughter Susy), Following the Equator (1897) is a darker and more politicized account of a lecture tour around the world, with Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, India, Mauritius, and South Africa among the stop­overs. Using humorous but often biting anecdotes as well as keen journalist reporting, the book details bush life in Australia and the culture of the Maoris in New Zealand, while lashing out at social inequities such as the Indian caste system, and racist imperialism connected with European settlement and gold mining in southern Africa. Twain rounds out the volume with extensive historical accounts ranging from the Black Hole of Calcutta to the events in South Africa that would lead shortly to the Boer War.

This volume also includes 13 shorter pieces, most of them uncollected by the author, including a lengthy firsthand narrative of the shah of Persia’s 1873 visit to London, an 1891 description of Richard Wagner’s operas performed at Bayreuth, an 1897 account of Queen Victoria’s jubilee in London, and an 1898 analysis of vitriolic Austrian parliamentary proceedings. The texts of several of these “other travels” are presented in newly corrected and fully restored versions.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 6
This Library of America volume contains the novels that, when published, transformed an obscure Western journalist into a national celebrity. The Innocents Abroad and Roughing It (sometimes called The Innocents at Home) were immensely successful when first published and they remain today the most popular travel books ever written.

The Innocents Abroad (1869), based largely on letters written for New York and San Francisco papers, narrates the progress of the first American organized tour of Europe—to Naples, Smyrna, Constantinople, and Palestine. In his account Mark Twain assumes two alternate roles: at times the no-nonsense American who refuses to automatically venerate the famous sights of the Old World (preferring Lake Tahoe to Lake Como), or at times the put-upon simpleton, a gullible victim of flatterers and “frauds,” and an awestruck admirer of Russian royalty.

The result is a hilarious blend of vaudevillian comedy, actual travel guide, and stinging satire, directed at both the complacency of his fellow American travelers and their reverence for European relics. Out of the book emerges the first full-dress portrait of Mark Twain himself, the breezy, shrewd, and comical manipulator of English idioms and America’s mythologies about itself and its relation to the past.

Roughing It (1872) is the lighthearted account of Mark Twain’s actual and imagined adventures when he escaped the Civil War and joined his brother, the recently appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory. His accounts of stagecoach travel, Native Americans, frontier society, the Mormons, the Chinese, and the codes, dress, food, and customs of the West are interspersed with his own experiences as a prospector, miner, journalist, boon companion, and lecturer as he traveled through Nevada, Utah, California, and even to the Hawaiian Islands.

Mark Twain’s passage from tenderfoot to old-timer is accomplished through a long series of increasingly comical episodes. The plot is relaxed enough to accommodate some immensely funny and random character sketches, animal fables, tall tales, and dramatic monologues. The result is an enduring picture of the old Western frontier in all its original vigor and variety.

In these two works, never before brought together so compactly, Mark Twain achieves his mastery of the vernacular style.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 5
This Library of America book, with its companion volume, is the most comprehensive collection ever published of Mark Twain’s short writings—the incomparable stories, sketches, burlesques, hoaxes, tall tales, speeches, satires, and maxims of America’s greatest humorist. Arranged chronologically and containing many pieces restored to the form in which Twain intended them to appear, the volumes show with unprecedented clarity the literary evolution of Mark Twain over six decades of his career.

This volume contains eighty pieces from the years 1891 to 1910, when Twain emerged from bankruptcy and personal tragedy to become the white-suited, cigar-smoking international celebrity who reported on his own follies and those of humanity with an unerring sense of the absurd. Some stories display Twain’s fascination with money and greed, such as “The Esquimau Maiden’s Romance” and “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.” Other stories, written after the death of his daughter Susy in 1896, explore the outer limits of fantasy and psychic phenomena, including “Which Was the Dream?” “The Great Dark,” and “My Platonic Sweetheart.”

The United States military involvement in Cuba, China, and the Philippines turned Twain’s attention to political satire and invective. “To the Person Sitting in Darkness,” “The United States of Lyncherdom,” “The Czar’s Soliloquy,” and “The War Prayer” are biting denunciations of European and American imperialism. Other political issues inspired articles and stories about the Jews, the notorious Dreyfus case, and vivisection. Twain’s increasingly unorthodox religious opinions are powerfully, often comically, expressed in “Extracts from Adam’s Diary,” “Eve’s Diary,” “Eve Speaks,” “Adam’s Soliloquy,” “A Humane Word from Satan,” “What is Man?” “Extract from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven,” and “Letters from the Earth.”

“Against the assault of laughter,” he said, “nothing can stand.” Twain’s brilliant inventiveness continues to shine in such later comic masterpieces as “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offences,” “Italian Without a Master,” “Hunting the Deceitful Turkey,” and “My First Lie and How I Got Out of It.” A posthumous collection of proverbs and aphorisms (“More Maxims of Mark”) is included as an appendix.

The publishing history of every story, sketch, and speech in this volume has been thoroughly researched, and in each instance the most authoritative text has been reproduced. This collection also includes an extensive chronology of Twain’s complex life, helpful notes on the people and events referred to in his works, and a guide to the texts.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 4
This Library of America book, with its companion volume, is the most comprehensive collection ever published of Mark Twain’s short writings — the incomparable stories, sketches, burlesques, hoaxes, tall tales, speeches, satires, and maxims of America’s greatest humorist. Arranged chronologically and containing many pieces restored to the form in which Twain intended them to appear, the volumes show with unprecedented clarity the literary evolution of Mark Twain over six decades of his career. 

The nearly two hundred separate items in this volume cover the years from 1852 to 1890. As a riverboat pilot, Confederate irregular, silver miner, frontier journalist, and publisher, Twain witnessed the tragicomic beginning of the Civil War in Missouri, the frenzied opening of the West, and the feverish corruption, avarice, and ambition of the Reconstruction era. He wrote about political bosses, jumping frogs, robber barons, cats, women’s suffrage, temperance, petrified men, the bicycle, the Franco-Prussian War, the telephone, the income tax, the insanity defense, injudicious swearing, and the advisability of political candidates preemptively telling the worst about themselves before others get around to it.

Among the stories included here are “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” which won him instant fame when published in 1865, “Cannibalism in the Cars,” “The Invalid’s Story,” and the charming “A Cat’s Tale,” written for his daughters’ private amusement. This volume also presents several of his famous and successful speeches and toasts, such as “Woman — God Bless Her,” “The Babies,” and “Advice to Youth.” Such writings brought Twain immense success on the public lecture and banquet circuit, as did his controversial “Whittier Birthday Speech,” which portrayed Boston’s most revered men of letters as a band of desperadoes.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 3
“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand,” Mark Twain once wrote. In this sixth volume in The Library of America’s authoritative collection of his writings-the final volume of his fiction-America’s greatest humorist emerges in a surprising range of roles: as the savvy satirist of The Gilded Age, the brilliant plotter of its inventive sequel, The American Claimant, and, in two Tom Sawyer novels, as the acknowledged master revisiting his best-loved characters. Also in this volume is the authoritative version of Twain’s haunting last novel, No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger, left unpublished when he died.

The Gilded Age (1873), a collaboration with Hartford neighbor Charles Dudley Warner, sends up an age when vast fortunes piled up amid thriving corruption and a city Twain knew well, Washington, D.C., full of would-be power brokers and humbug. The novel also gives us one of Twain’s most enduring characters, Colonel Sellers, who returns in The American Claimant (1892), an encore performance that moves beyond the worldly satire of its predecessor into realms of sheer inventive mayhem.

Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894) and Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896) extend the adventures of Huck and Tom. No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger (1908), an astonishing psychic adventure set in the gothic gloom of a medieval Austrian village, offers a powerful and uncanny exploration of the powers of the human mind.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 2
In the three novels collected in this Library of America volume, Mark Twain turned his comic genius to a period that fascinated and repelled him in equal measure: medieval and Renaissance Europe. This lost world of stately pomp and unspeakable cruelty, artistic splendor and abysmal ignorance—the seeming opposite of brashly optimistic, commercial, democratic nineteenth-century America—engaged Twain’s imagination, inspiring a children’s classic, and astonishing fantasy of comedy and violence, and an unusual fictional biography.
 
Twain drew on his fascination with impersonation and the theme of the double in The Prince and the Pauper (1882), which brilliantly uses the device of identical boys from opposite ends of the social hierarchy to evoke the tumultuous contrasts of Henry VIII’s England. As the pauper Tom Canty is raised to the throne, while the rightful heir is cast out among thieves and beggars, Twain sustains one of his most compelling narratives. A perennial children’s favorite, the novel brings an impassioned American point of view to the injustices of traditional European society.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) finds Twain in high satiric form. When hard-headed Yankee mechanic Hank Morgan is knocked out in a fight, he wakes up in Camelot in A.D. 528—and finds himself pitted against the medieval rituals and superstitions of King Arthur and his knights. In a hilarious burlesque of the age of chivalry and of its cult in the nineteenth-century American South, Twain demolishes knighthood’s romantic aura to reveal a brutish, violent society beset by ignorance. But the comic mood gives way to a darker questioning of both ancient and modern society, culminating in an astonishing apocalyptic conclusion that questions both American progress and Yankee “ingenuity” as Camelot is undone by the introduction of advanced technology.

“Taking into account . . . her origin, youth, sex, illiteracy, early environment, and the obstructing conditions under which she exploited her high gifts and made her conquest in the field and before the courts that tried her for her life—she is easily and by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever known.” So Twain wrote of the heroine of Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), his most elaborate work of historical reconstruction. A respectful and richly detailed chronicle, by turns admiring and indignant, Joan of Arc opens a fascinating window onto the moral imagination of America’s greatest comic writer.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 1
Mark Twain is perhaps the most widely read and enjoyed of all our national writers. This Library of America collection presents his best-known works, together for the first time in one volume.
Tom Sawyer “is simply a hymn,” said its author, “put into prose form to give it a worldly air,” a book where nostalgia is so strong that it dissolves the tensions and perplexities that assert themselves in the later works. Twain began Huckleberry Finn the same year Tom Sawyer was published, but he was unable to complete it for several more. It was during this period of uncertainty that Twain made a pilgrimage to the scenes of his childhood in Hannibal, Missouri, a trip that led eventually to Life on the Mississippi. The river in Twain’s descriptions is a bewitching mixture of beauty and power, seductive calms and treacherous shoals, pleasure and terror, an image of the societies it touches and transports.
 
Each of these works is filled with comic and melodramatic adventure, with horseplay and poetic evocations of scenery, and with characters who have become central to American mythology—not only Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, but also Roxy, the mulatto slave in Puddn’head Wilson, one of the most telling portraits of a woman in American fiction. With each book there is evidence of a growing bafflement and despair, until with Puddn’head Wilson, high jinks and games, far from disguising the terrible cost of slavery, become instead its macabre evidence.
 
Through each of four works, too, runs the Mississippi, the river that T. S. Eliot, echoing Twain, was to call the “strong brown god.” For Twain, the river represented the complex and often contradictory possibilities in his own and his nation’s life. The Mississippi marks the place where civilization, moving west with its comforts and proprieties, discovers and contends with the rough realities, violence, chicaneries, and promise of freedom on the frontier. It is the place, too, where the currents Mark Twain learned to navigate as a pilot—an experience recounted in Life on the Mississippi—move inexorably into the Deep South, so that the innocence of joyful play and boyhood along its shores eventually confronts the grim reality of slavery.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
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