Life on The Mississippi

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Penguin, Mar 3, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 400 pages
16 Reviews
At once a romantic history of a mighty river, an autobiographical account of Twain's early steamboat days, and a storehouse of humorous anecdotes and sketches, here is the raw material from which Mark Twain wrote his finest novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Hannibal, Missouri, on the banks of the Mississippi River, was host to riverboat travelers from around the world, providing a vigorous and variable atmosphere for the young Samuel Clemens to absorb. Clemens became a riverboat pilot and even chose his pen name—Mark Twain—from a term boatmen would call out signifying water depth at two fathoms, meaning safe clearance for travel. It was from this background that Life on the Mississippi emerged. It is an epochal record of America’s growth, a stirring remembrance of her vanished past. And it earned for its author his first recognition as a serious writer. 

With an Introduction by Justin Kaplan
and an Afterword by John Seelye


From the Paperback edition.
 

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Review: Life on the Mississippi

User Review  - Adam Olenn - Goodreads

Interesting and colorful, but the pace is slow as a steamboat going upriver at high water. Still waiting to see if there's going to be a development to all this, or if it's just a series of postcards. Read full review

Review: Life on the Mississippi

User Review  - Johnny - Goodreads

Lasted for almost half of the book. Could not stay with it. Read full review

All 15 reviews »

Contents

The River and Its History
1
The River and Its Explorers
6
Frescoes from the Past
11
The Boys Ambition
25
I Want to Be a Cub Pilot
29
A Cub Pilots Experience
33
A Daring Deed
39
Perplexing Lessons
45
The Disposal of a Bonanza
189
Refreshments and Ethics
193
Tough Yarns
197
Vicksburg During the Trouble
198
The Professors Yarn
205
The House Beautiful
211
Manufactures and Miscreants
216
Castles and Culture
221

Continued Perplexities
50
Completing My Education
56
The River Rises
61
Sounding
67
A Pilots Needs
72
Rank and Dignity of Piloting
79
The Pilots Monopoly
85
Racing Days
95
Cutoffs and Stephen
104
I Take a Few Extra Lessons
110
Brown and I Exchange Compliments
115
A Catastrophe
119
A Section in My Biography
124
Traveling Incognito
131
My Incognito Is Exploded
134
From Cairo to Hickman
139
Under Fire
144
Some Imported Articles
150
Uncle Mumford Unloads
155
A Few Specimen Bricks
162
Sketches by the Way
170
A Thumbprint and What Came of It
176
The Metropolis of the South
226
Hygiene and Sentiment
229
The Art of Inhumation
232
City Sights
235
Southern Sports
241
Enchantments and Enchanters
248
Uncle Remus and Mr Cable
251
Sugar and Postage
253
Episodes in Pilot Life
258
The Original Jacobs
263
Reminiscences
267
A Burning Brand
273
My Boyhoods Home
283
Past and Present
287
A Vendetta and Other Things
293
A Question of Law
298
An Archangel
303
On the Upper River
308
Legends and Scenery
313
Speculations and Conclusions
319
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

In his person and in his pursuits, Mark Twain (1835-1910) was a man of extraordinary contrasts. Although he left school at twelve, when his father died, he was eventually awarded honorary degrees from Yale University, the University of Missouri, and Oxford University. His career encompassed such varied occupations as printer, Mississippi riverboat pilot, journalist, travel writer, and publisher. He made fortunes from his writing, but toward the end of his life he had to resort to lecture tours to pay his debts. He was hot-tempered, profane, and sentimental—and also pessimistic, cynical, and tortured by self-doubt. His nostalgia for the past helped produce some of his best books. He lives in American letters as a great artist, the writer whom William Dean Howells called "the Lincoln of our literature."

Justin Kaplan
is the author of numerous books including Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; Mark Twain and His World; Walt Whitman: A Life; and with his wife, Anne Bernays,  Back Then: Two Lives in 1950s New York.  In 1985, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

John Seelye is a leading American Studies scholar and Graduate Research Professor Emeritus of American Literature at the University of Florida. His books include The True Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain in the Movies: A Meditation with Pictures, and Beautiful Machine: Rivers and the Republic Plan, 1755-1825.


From the Paperback edition.

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