Letters from the Earth
By Mark Twain
(Harper Perennial Modern Classics, Paperback, 9780060518653, 336pp.)
Publication Date: March 2004
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"I have told you nothing about man that is not true." You must pardon me if I repeat that remark now and then in these letters; I want you to take seriously the things I am telling you, and I feel that if I were in your place and you in mine, I should need that reminder from time to time, to keep my credulity from flagging.
In Letters from the Earth, Twain presents himself as the Father of History -- reviewing and interpreting events from the Garden of Eden through the Fall and the Flood, translating the papers of Adam and his descendants through the generations. First published fifty years after his death, this eclectic collection is vintage Twain: sharp, witty, imaginative, complex, and wildly funny.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born on November 30, 1835, in the village of Florida, Missouri. He attended the ordinary western common school until he was twelve, the last of his formal schooling. In a span of fifteen years he was successively a typesetter, a steamboat pilot, a soldier for three weeks, a silver miner, a newspaper reporter, and a bohemian in San Francisco known as "Mark Twain." But in 1865, deeply in debt, he acknowledged a talent for "literature, of a low order, i.e., humorous." In the next forty years, he published more than a dozen books and hundreds of shorter works, including his masterpiece, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.