Mark Twain's Letters: 1872-1873 v. 5

Mark Twain's Letters: 1872-1873 v. 5

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'Livy darling, it was flattering, at the Lord Mayor's dinner, tonight, to have the nation's honored favorite, the Lord High Chancellor of England, in his vast wig and gown, with a splendid, sword-bearing lackey, following him and holding up his train, walk me arm-in-arm through the brilliant assemblage, and welcome me with all the enthusiasm of a girl, and tell me that when affairs of state oppress him and he can't sleep, he always has my books at hand and forgets his perplexities in reading them!' - 10 November, 1872. On his first trip to England to gather material for a book and cement relations with his newly authorized English publishers, Samuel Clemens was astounded to find himself hailed everywhere as a literary lion. America's premier humorist had begun his long tenure as an international celebrity. Meanwhile, he was coming into his full power at home. "The Innocents Abroad" continued to produce impressive royalties and his new book, "Roughing It", was enjoying great popularity. In newspaper columns he appeared regularly as public advocate and conscience, speaking on issues as disparate as safety at sea and political corruption. Clemens' personal life at this time was for the most part fulfilling, although saddened by the loss of his nineteen-month-old son, Langdon, who died of diphtheria. "Life in the Nook Farm" community of writers and progressive thinkers and activists was proving to be all the Clemenses had hoped for. The 309 letters in this volume, more than half of them never before published, capture the events of these years with detailed intimacy. Thoroughly annotated and indexed, they are supplemented by genealogical charts of the Clemens and Langdon families, a transcription of the journals Clemens kept during his 1872 visit to England, book contracts, his preface to the English edition of "The Gilded Age", contemporary photographs of family and friends, and a gathering of all newly discovered letters written between 1865 and 1871. This volume is the fifth in the only complete edition of Mark Twain's letters ever attempted, and the twenty-fourth in the comprehensive edition known as "The Mark Twain Papers" and "Works of Mark Twain".show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 974 pages
  • 161 x 235.2 x 59.7mm | 1,523.3g
  • University of California Press
  • Berkerley, United States
  • English
  • Annotated
  • New.
  • 70 b/w photographs
  • 0520208226
  • 9780520208223
  • 1,941,335

Review quote

"Lengthy, encyclopedic, enlightening, and often wonderfully entertaining footnotes . . . between the texts of the letters and the voluminous editorial commentary, Mark Twain's Letters project promises to become the most comprehensively detailed reconstructed life of a genius ever seen."--Robert Hurwitt, "Berkeley Expressshow more

About Mark Twain

Lin Salamo and Harriet Elinor Smith are editors with the Mark Twain Project in The Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley. Editorial work for this volume was generously supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and by donations to The Friends of The Bancroft Library from the Barkley more

Review Text

An astonishingly dull but comprehensively annotated collection of letters from an unexceptional period in Twain's life. Like the phone book, this is one of those hefty tomes you're terribly glad exists, even though there's little reason to go through it cover to cover. Its very thoroughness, its rounding up of every epistolary scrap, from bills, to perfunctory thank-yous, to itineraries of arrivals and departures, ensures vast stretches of tedium. But even when not quarreling over printing details with his publisher or setting up dates for speaking tours, Twain the correspondent bears little relationship to Twain the genius of 19th-century American literature. Even when he is corresponding with intimate friends or his beloved wife, Olivia (Livy), there is an unrevealing quality to almost every letter, as if he were deliberately resting his talent. Salamo and Smith (members of the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library, Univ. of California) are to be commended for the incredible depth, range, and detail of their work. Their scholarship is impeccable, their erudition extensive - one has the feeling that they could probably account for almost every hour of Twain's life - and learned footnotes abound, often dwarfing the brief letters. During this time span, Twain embarked on building a house, suffered the death of a child, and made regular visits to England, sometimes to lecture, sometimes to bask in the warm admiration of the British. He also published his only cowritten book (The Gilded Age, with Charles Dudley Warner). But Huckleberry Finn and the full flowering of Twain's talent are still several years away. A major scholarly resource, but slow-going and unrewarding, proof of how compartmentalized genius can sometimes be. (Kirkus Reviews)show more