The Life of Mark Twain (Hardcover)

The Early Years, 1835-1871 (Mark Twain and His Circle)

By Gary Scharnhorst

University of Missouri, 9780826221445, 718pp.

Publication Date: March 30, 2018

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (6/21/2019)

List Price: 36.95*
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This book begins the first multi-volume biography of Samuel Clemens to appear in over a century. In the succeeding years, Clemens biographers have either tailored their narratives to fit the parameters of a single volume or focused on a particular period or aspect of Clemens’s life, because the whole of that epic life cannot be compressed into a single volume. In The Life of Mark Twain, Gary Scharnhorst has chosen to write a complete biography plotted from beginning to end, from a single point of view, on an expansive canvas.
With dozens of Mark Twain biographies available, what is left unsaid? On average, a hundred Clemens letters and a couple of Clemens interviews surface every year. Scharnhorst has located documents relevant to Clemens’s life in Missouri, along the Mississippi River, and in the West, including some which have been presumed lost. Over three volumes, Scharnhorst elucidates the life of arguably the greatest American writer and reveals the alchemy of his gifted imagination.

About the Author

Gary Scharnhorst is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico. He is the author or editor of fifty books, including Mark Twain on Potholes and Politics: Letters to the Editor. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Praise For The Life of Mark Twain: The Early Years, 1835-1871 (Mark Twain and His Circle)

“A lively, richly detailed, and sharply perceptive biography.”—Kirkus (starred)

"Scharnhorst's thorough and careful research results in a scholarly biography that will undoubtedly be considered definitive."—Publishers Weekly

“Gary Scharnhorst’s monumental biography sets a new standard for comprehensiveness. Scharnhorst's assertive style and unflinching interpretations set The Life of Mark Twain apart from all previous studies of this fascinating and contradictory figure. This will prove to be the standard biography for our generation.”—Alan Gribben, editor of the Mark Twain Journal and author of Mark Twain's Literary Resources: A Reconstruction of His Library and Reading

“With the facts about Sam Clemens's life scattered through countless volumes and archives, we have long needed a biography that brings them together, winnowing out the myths, and telling the true story with clarity and grace. Gary Scharnhorst has taken up this prodigious task, and as a veteran Mark Twain scholar still at the top of his game, he's certainly right for the challenge. Clear and engaging, Scharnhorst’s prose keeps you rolling happily through this consummate American adventure.”—Bruce Michelson, author of Printer’s Devil: Mark Twain and the American Publishing Revolution

"In the near endless attempts to chart the life and times of Mark Twain, most biographers have mapped only parts of Twain's life, focusing solely upon a period, a place, or a set of relationships. In The Life of Mark Twain: The Early Years, 1835-1871, Gary Scharnhorst has widened his lens to take in the sweep of events, the currents of change and creativity in these early years that would make Twain into not just a cultural phenomenon but into the most American of artists. In its wit and clarity, Scharnhorst's biography will appeal to devoted readers of Mark Twain's life and fiction; while scholars will find in this volume a smart, insightful, unsentimental view of Twain—no idolizing of St. Mark, or armchair analysis of the Twain/Clemens divide. Gary Scharnhorst is a scholar whose command of nineteenth-century American culture and literature provides this volume with layer upon layer of context and insight."—Ann M. Ryan, co-editor of Cosmopolitan Twain

“While this is a gargantuan book that leaves Twain in his mid-thirties, it never feels overlong or too bogged down in detail. Scharnhorst has great material to work with, and he conveys it expertly.” --Foreword Review