By Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens), a former printer's apprentice, journalist, steamboat pilot, and miner, is still to today some of the most enduring and loved of America's nice writers. Combining cultural feedback with ancient scholarship, A ancient advisor to Mark Twain addresses a variety of subject matters suitable to Twain's paintings, together with faith, trade, race, gender, social classification, and imperialism. like several of the ancient courses to American Authors, this quantity contains an creation, a short biography, a bibliographic essay, and an illustrated chronology of the author's existence and times.
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Upon rereading it, however, he changed his mind completely, and judged it “just as good as it can be. It is smart; it is saturated with humor. ”70 What a striking example of the paired, virtually simultaneous impulses to reveal and to conceal the same thing! In , the year of his ﬁftieth birthday, Clemens reached his life’s zenith. ), and he was rolling in money. Huckleberry Finn and Grant’s Memoirs were both published that year; the lecture tour with Cable ended successfully (proﬁtably); and the Paige typesetter still looked very promising.
Slavery was certainly a central feature of Clemens’s boyhood in Hannibal. Jennie, the last of his father’s slaves, lived with the family for most of his childhood. Sam once looked on as his father ﬂogged her for insubordination. ”49 Slavery was accepted without much protest in antebellum Hannibal, though people recoiled inwardly from the inevitable excesses brought on by the institution. “When I was ten years old,” Clemens later recalled, while traveling in India, “I saw a man ﬂing a lump of iron-ore at a slave-man in anger, for merely doing something awkwardly—as if it were a crime.
The plot works well enough until the Duke’s daughter gives birth to a child, fathered, she claims, by her cousin, Conrad, the false heir apparent, who now faces an impossible decision. He must dispute the charge or die; but to reveal that he is a woman will also make him subject to the death penalty. 29 What are we to make of this motley effort? 31 In the most emphatic way possible, then, there is evidence here of strongly competing impulses to reveal and to conceal the self. At one level, Clemens’s chronicle of degenerate forbears makes a jest of the autobiographical enterprise.
A Historical Guide to Mark Twain (Historical Guides to American Authors) by Shelley Fisher Fishkin