Great Short Works of Mark Twain
By Mark Twain
(Harper Perennial Modern Classics, Paperback, 9780060727864, 400pp.)
Publication Date: October 2004
Other Editions of This Title: Mass Market Paperback
Selected works of humour and criticism by a revered American master.
Beloved by millions, Mark Twain is the quintessential American writer. More than anyone else, his blend of scepticism, caustic wit and sharp prose defines a certain American mythos. While his novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is still taught to anyone who attends school and is considered by many to be the Great American Novel, Twain's shorter stories and criticisms have unequalled style and bite.
In a review that's less than kind to the writing of James Fenimore Cooper, Twain writes: "Every time a Cooper person is in peril, and absolute silence is worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a dry twig. There may be a hundred handier things to step on, but that wouldn't satisfy Cooper. Cooper requires him to turn out and find a dry twig; and if he can't do it, go and borrow one." It's difficult to imagine anyone else writing in quite this style, which is why Twain's legacy only continues to grow.
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.