Plymouth Rock and the Pilgrims and other salutary platform opinions

Front Cover
Harper & Row, 1984 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 344 pages
0 Reviews
Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain (1835-1910), was in great demand as a public speaker. This anthology, spanning the years from 1866 to 1909, collects 82 examples of Twain's best "spoken" work. Topics include American mythmaking, the Hawaiian Islands, masturbation, the art of war, New York morals, stage fright, and much more.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

The Sandwich Islands
1
Woman
11
American Vandal Abroad
13
Copyright

82 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1984)

Samuel Clemens - steamboat pilot, prospector, and newspaper reporter - adopted the pen name "Mark Twain" when he began his career as a literary humorist. The pen name - a river's pilot's term meaning "two fathoms deep" or "safe water" - appears to have freed Clemens to develop the humorous, deadpan manner that became his trademark. During his lifetime, Twain wrote a great deal. Much of his writing was turned out quickly to make money. Even his least significant writing, however, contains flashes of wit and reveals his marvelous command of colloquial American English. His best work is his "Mississippi writing" - Life on the Mississippi (1883) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). In the latter novel Twain was able to integrate his talent for comic invention with his satirical cast of mind and sense of moral outrage. Novelist Ernest Hemingway declared The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn the greatest American novel and the source of all modern American fiction. Certainly it influenced Hemingway's own work and that of writers as diverse as Saul Bellow and J.D. Salinger. Twain was born in Florida, Missouri, and grew up in Hannibal, a small southern town very similar to the one in which he places his heroes Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Twain was a printer for a time, and then became a steamboat pilot, a profession he regarded with great respect all his life. He traveled in the West, writing humorous sketches for newspapers. In 1865, he wrote the short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," which was very well received. He then began a career as a humorous travel writer and lecturer, publishing The Innocents Abroad in 1869, Roughing It in 1872, and, co-authored with Charles Dudley Warner, Gilded Age in 1873. His best-known works, however, are the novels that came out of his childhood in Hannibal: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). Critic and editor of the Atlantic Monthly William Dean Howells, a friend of Twain's, encouraged him to write for that periodical. Howells later wrote an affectionate memoir, My Mark Twain, in which he called Twain, "the Lincoln of our literature." In 1894, a publishing house that Twain had invested in went bankrupt and Twain lost a great deal of money. This was but one of several fortunes he was to lose as a result of his poor business sense and propensity for unrealistic money-making schemes. His personal life was further blighted by the various deaths from illness of an infant son and two grown daughters and the long illness and eventual death of his wife. These experiences of success, failure, sorrow may account for the contrasting extremes of humor and bitterness in Twain's writing. Toward the close of his life, the bitterness predominated, and Twain turned to writing satirical diatribes against God and humanity - so much so that his surviving daughter, Clara, refused to allow these works to be published in her lifetime. Twain was born in the year of Haley's Comet and predicted that he would die in the year of the next Haley's Comet. He did, indeed, die of a heart attack on April 21, 1910, in Redding, Connecticut, one day after the comet's closest approach to Earth.

Charles Neider, 1915 - 2001 Charles Neider was born in 1915 in Odessa, Russia. At the age of 5, he and his family moved to the United States, settling in Richmond, Virginia. Neider later moved to New York and attended City College. In 1959, his most famous book was published entitled, "The Autobiography of Mark Twain," which was later named as one of the 100 Best Nonfiction books written in English during the 20th Century by the Modern Library. He has also edited and annotated around a dozen anthologies of Mark Twain tales, and edited the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Washington Irving and Leo Tolstoy. Neider considered himself to be a naturalist as well as a writer. Between '69 and '77, he participated in three expeditions to Antarctica funded by the National Science Foundation and the United States Navy. He wrote about these trips in "Edge of the World: Ross Island, Antarctica" and "Beyond Cape Horn: Travels in the Antarctic." He also wrote of his own harrowing adventure when the helicopter he was flying in crashed on Mount Erebus in 1971. He wrote fiction about Billy the Kid, and the last book he wrote was a semi-autobiographical book about his struggle with prostate cancer. Charles Neider died July 11, 2001 at the age of 86.

Bibliographic information