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Humorous Stories and Sketches (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – September 24, 1996

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 and up
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Dover ed edition (September 24, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486292797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486292793
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.1 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Twain (1835-1910) was an American humorist, satirist, social critic, lecturer and novelist. He is mostly remembered for his classic novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By James Yanni on December 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
But that, amazingly enough, is all it costs. I don't know how Dover does it, but I'm glad they do.
This probably should really get 3 1/2 stars; it's better than a "three", but I can't quite bring myself to give it four.
There are eight short pieces by Twain; there's "The Notorious Jumping Frog Of Calaveras County", doubtless the most famous story here, and "Journalism in Tennessee", a marvellous exaggeration of cutthroat frontier journalism that is, as so much of Twain's work is, reminiscent of Dickens. Then there's "About Barbers", which starts as a commentary on what we now call Murphy's Law, and then moves on to complain of barbers who are intent on cutting the customer's hair the way THEY want it, and to blazes with what the customer wants -- a complaint that seems still relevant even today. Then follows another story with a point unaffected by the passage of time: "A Literary Nightmare", a complaint about advertising jingles that cannot be driven out of the brain with an icepick. Then we have "The Stolen White Elephant", in which Twain directs his satire at the deductive powers of would-be Sherlock Holmeses, and a self-deprecatory tale of his own foolishness during the Civil War ("The Private History of a Campaign That Failed"). Next up is my personal favorite, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences", in which he gives elaborate reasons, in great detail, why he disagrees with the common wisdom that James Fenimore Cooper is a great writer (or, for that matter, can write at all.) (Perhaps I should find "Pathfinder" and "Deerslayer" on the book list here, and transcribe his comments.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on May 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Humorous Stories and Sketches," be Mark Twain, brings together 8 comic gems by this giant of American literature. At around 80 pages this Dover edition may be small in size, but it's big in laughs and wit.
The 8 pieces are "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," "Journalism in Tennessee," "About Barbers," "A Literary Nightmare," "The Stolen White Elephant," "The Private History of a Campaign that Failed," "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses," and "How to Tell a Story." Twain satirizes gamblers, journalists, police detectives, international diplomacy, the military, and other things.
Particularly effective is the Civil War narrative "The Private History"; it's funny and bitingly satirical, but also surprisingly poignant as Twain reflects on the brutality of war. For laugh-out-loud funny, however, the elephant story is my favorite. A perfect book both for literature courses or just for individual pleasure reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Plume45 on September 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
This delightful anthology of just 74 pages contains gems by the genius of truly American humor, who catapulted our literary style to international recognition. Finally, a master explains what makes American humor unique: it's not the subject Matter, but the Manner in which the humor is expressed-quite differently from the English and French styles. This is an excellent edition for beginners in the Classics as well as in American literature in general; the stories range in length from only five to twenty pages.

The editors have chosen a variety of settings and topics in this literary patchwork of Twainiana; from California's Gold Country with its famous frog-jumping contest, to a newspaper office in shoot-`em-up Tennessee. Twain explains the dangers inherent in regularly visiting a barber shop; he reveals his earliest attempt at Civil War soldiering; he includes the mystery of a stolen elephant, solved by the competent mind of a New York City Inspector. Not everything is totally amusing, however, as he delves into literary realms as well; he blasts the underserved fame of James Fenimore Cooper, and concludes with earnest advice to writers how to render their stories Humorous--not just funny, witty or silly. This collection is Vintage Twin in a slender package. Kids of all ages should read and enjoy this book; it will only whet your appetite for more Twain fare!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Darling on October 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for school last year. These are some of the funniest stories I have ever read. It is a great book. I would recomend it to anyone young or old.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Valerie J. Steimle on February 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mark Twain is a joy to read in his creative stories he has in this book. They are funny and entertaining and a good read for high schoolers to understand the culture of the country over 100 years ago. I recommend this book to any teen or adult who likes a good story. Reads fast too.
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This slim volume contains eight mostly obscure Twain works (with the exception of the story “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, which at least used to be standard introductory Twain fare in schools (are schools still allowed to cover Twain under NCLB/RttT/Common Core?).

If you’re a true Twain fan, you will love these stories, but I have to say that most of them were a bit over the top for my tastes. I understand that’s Twain’s characteristic method of skewering the nonsense of the world, but I tend to find it annoying pretty quickly. Another classic Twain technique is the rambling nature of his stories and the fact that they really don’t end with much of a point. Twain himself addresses this in the essay (contained in this book) “How to Tell a Story”. I suppose I’m marking myself as simpleton, but I guess I prefer the “comic story” that Twain mocks over his version of the “humorous story”. I will admit that I got a kick out of his “negro ghost story”, even though it sort of offends my modern sensibilities.

My two favorite selections deal with Twain’s take on writing itself. In “A Literary Nightmare”, Twain is overpowered by an insidious little jingle he reads in the newspaper that gets stuck in his head to the point that it is all he can say or think. In “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses” he points out the sins of the Deerslayer tale and other Fenimore works in ways that had me laughing out loud.

“Journalism in Tennessee” is an intentionally way-over-the-top ridiculous satire of rivalries between different newspapers (if I ever start my own blog, I think I’ll have to appropriate “Dying Shriek for Liberty”). “About Barbers” is a rant about the travails of grooming when the customer is not always right.
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