By Larzer Ziff
Mark Twain towered above the yankee literary panorama. With a global reputation more than that of statesmen, scientists, or entertainers, Twain was once in his personal phrases "the so much conspicuous guy at the planet." Now, during this extraordinary recounting of his occupation, Larzer Ziff deals an incisive, illuminating examine one of many giants of yank letters.
Mark Twain emerges during this booklet as anything of a paradox. His humor made him wealthy and recognized, yet he used to be unsatisfied with the function of stand-up comedian. He satirized the rapacious financial practices of his society, but was once stuck up in these very practices himself. He used to be a literary genius who revolutionized the nationwide literature, but was once not able to withstand no matter what quirky suggestion or funny story that crossed his brain, usually straying from his plot or contradicting his subject matter. Ziff bargains a full of life account of Twain's early years, explores all his significant fiction, and concludes with a attention of his craftsmanship and his energy as a cultural critic. He bargains fairly telling perception into Twain's shuttle writings, delivering for instance an insightful account of Following the Equator, might be Twain's so much underrated paintings. through the ebook, Ziff examines Twain's writings in gentle of the literary cultures of his day--from frontier humorists to Matthew Arnold--and of parallel literary works of his time--comparing, for instance, A Connecticut Yankee with significant utopian works of an identical decade. therefore the e-book is either a piece of literary feedback and of cultural history.
Compact and glowing, the following then is a useful creation to Mark Twain, taking pictures the humor and the contradictions of America's such a lot cherished author.
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Extra resources for Mark Twain (Lives and Legacies)
Following up on the great success of Innocents Abroad, Elisha Bliss asked Twain for an account of his western experiences. Twain started on it in 1870, and Roughing It was published by Bliss’s American Publishing Company in 1872. Although in the years following publication it did not match the sensational sales record of Innocents Abroad, it was, nevertheless, a popular success and, as a literary work, is clearly superior to its predecessor. Since Twain’s day it has been far more frequently reprinted.
Before then, remarks such as the following—sent to the British critic Andrew Lang—reveal in their overinsistence on not really wanting to be regarded as cultured an uneasy if aggressive acceptance of a lower status than he desired or than, one may assert, he deserved: “I have never tried, in even one single little instance, to help culti vate the cultivated classes. I was not equipped for it either by na tive gifts or training. ”33 To be sure he fetched that game. But his stature in his day as in ours arises from his drawing readers of all sorts or levels of liter ary sophistication into his audience.
Throughout its 651-page length Twain demonstrated that his celebrated jumping frog story had not been a novelty but was the opening salvo in the campaign of a major literary figure. Years later, after he had become a husband and father and after he had his fill of being a traveling lecturer, Twain would curse the idea of having to set out on further journeys, yet he returned time and again to the travel book and thus to the travel it required. In advance of departure he could contract to supply letters to news papers, and upon his return contract again to edit and assemble 30 M A R K T WA I N them for publication in book form.