Mark Twain on the loose: a comic writer and the American self

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University of Massachusetts Press, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 269 pages
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Can we rediscover the wildness in Mark Twain's humor? Can we understand how that wildness helped make him a national legend and a key figure in the expression of an American self? In Mark Twain on the Loose, Bruce Michelson writes about Twain as a body of literature, as a public personality, and as a myth. Michelson shows that many of Twain's most ambitious and memorable works, from the very beginning to the end of his career, express a drive for absolute liberation from every social, psychological, and artistic limit. The outrageous and anarchic sides of Twain play a vital role in his art. But these traits are undervalued even by his admirers, who often favor clean shapes and steady affirmations in Twain's writing - not the dangerous comic outbreak, or the deep yearning to free the self from every definition and confinement.

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