By Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens), a former printer's apprentice, journalist, steamboat pilot, and miner, is still to at the present time essentially the most enduring and loved of America's nice writers. Combining cultural feedback with ancient scholarship, A old advisor to Mark Twain addresses a variety of subject matters proper to Twain's paintings, together with faith, trade, race, gender, social type, and imperialism. like every of the historic publications to American Authors, this quantity comprises an advent, a quick biography, a bibliographic essay, and an illustrated chronology of the author's lifestyles and times.
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Extra info for A Historical Guide to Mark Twain (Historical Guides to American Authors)
Indeed, the closer we look at Clemens’s childhood, the less idyllic it seems. Domestic life provided some sanctuary, of course, but the deaths of siblings and the gathering weight of poverty doubtless took their toll at home. So, in a more decisive way, did the declining health of his father, who died of pneumonia in March . The shock was compounded for Sam when he witnessed John Marshall’s postmortem examination. Jane, meanwhile, seizing on her son’s remorseful mood, made him promise to be faithful, industrious, and upright, like his father.
It was a setting rich with fresh and exciting possibilities; yet Clemens withdrew from it and surrendered instead to a powerful wave of nostalgia, a strong pull back from the present and future to something earlier, simpler, and more innocent. “The old life has swept before me like a panorama,” he exclaims; Heavens what eternities have swung their hoary cycles about us since those days were new! Since we tore down Dick Hardy’s stable; since you had the measles & I went to your house purposely to catch them.
So much, then, for the ordering impulse to tell a story of the self, and the answering, guilty retreat into concealment. What now of redemption? On this question we can move more quickly to clarify. For if family history, false Conrad, and predatory Cornelius Vanderbilt obliquely incriminate Samuel Clemens, they extenuate the charges against him in much the same way. Yes, the humorist seems to concede, I am lowborn, false and greedy; but so, he insists at the same time, are lots of other people.
A Historical Guide to Mark Twain (Historical Guides to American Authors) by Shelley Fisher Fishkin