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Mark Twain: An Illustrated Biography Hardcover – November 13, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Part of Twain's greatness is that he was a man of enormous talent and energy who was in the right places at the right times. It was the perfect combination that made him a uniquely American artist. Talent without energy would not have given him the ability to write so much. Energy without talent would not have made him, as Russel Banks' words, a wise guy who was wise. American letters is full of humorists who are now footnotes. In Twain's time, there is P.V. Nasby, and Josh Billings, Bret Harte and Artemus Ward. What makes Twain so different?
First, Twain saw himself as more than a humorist. He was a moralist. He was perfectly capable of writing funny without a point, whether it be about a trick played with a jumping frog, or the stories about Tom Sawyer. But he also used Huck Finn to rage against slavery. He berated Commodore Vanderbilt for not using his millions to help the poor (he later hobnobbed with the rich, one of those contradictions that enriches his character). Later in life, embittered by the death of his children, he abandoned humor to rail against imperialism, lynching and even God.
Written by Burns' collaborators Dayton Duncan and Geoffrey C. Ward, "Mark Twain" is crammed full of stories that show us the man behind the penname. Twain boiled with mirth, resentment, anger and passion, both on and off the page.Read more ›
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) was “torn between fame and family, between humor and bitterness, bottomless hunger for success and haunting fears of failure.”
His own writing makes this volume sparkle. “I am only human -- although I regret it.” “Aw well, I am a great and sublime fool.” “The secret source of humor itself is not joy, but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.” “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” His ability to capture the American vernacular on paper has never been equaled.
Much of his best-known writing was based on Hannibal, Missouri where he lived from age 4 to 17, and visited only 5 times thereafter. The benefit of an illustrated biography for Mark Twain is that you can see the people and places he was describing, which adds to your enjoyment of those works and to a greater understanding of his craft. Tom Blankenship was a model for Huck Finn and Laura Hawkes inspired Becky Thatcher. Constantly on the move, Twain wrote about the places he visited to earn his living and you will learn a great deal from seeing contemporary photographs and illustrations of these sights from the western United States and Hawaii through to Europe and the Middle East. He also did a world-wide lecture tour in 1895 that is captured here.
“Livy” (Olivia Langdon) was the great love of his life, and you will be enchanted and touched by their letters. You will also enjoy learning about her role as editor (helping him avoid expressions that would offend almost everyone) and as muse (he wanted her to be proud of him).
You will come away with many new impressions of Mark Twain.Read more ›
MARK TWAIN: AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY is a companion to a two-part, four-hour documentary film, directed by Ken Burns, on the life and work of Samuel Langhorne Clemens and his "famously, irrepressibly rambunctious alter ego Mark Twain."
Ernest Hemingway once said that Twain is "the headwater of American fiction" and called THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN "the best book we've ever had. There was nothing before. There's been nothing as good since."
George Bernard Shaw referred to Twain as "America's Voltaire."
William Dean Howells described Twain as "incomparable, the Lincoln of our literature."
Susy Clemens once wrote of her father: "He is known to the public as a humorist, but he has much more in him that is earnest than that is humorous. He is as much of a Philosopher as anything, I think."
In this reviewer's considered judgment, Twain is the greatest literary genius America has produced, a thinker of remarkable depth and substance.
Twain's life was filled with many travels, adventures ... and tragedies. Born in 1835, when Halley's comet made its appearance, he lived for 75 years, until 1910, when Halley's comet returned. He survived, and suffered, the death of his beloved wife "Livy" (Olivia Louise Langdon), and three of their children: Langdon, who died in infancy; Susy, who died of spinal meningitis at age 24; and Jean, who died of a heart attack evidently brought on by an epileptic seizure.
"The secret source of humor itself," wrote Twain, "is not joy, but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven. ... [Our] race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon--laughter. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a fascinating book about an unique American who lived such a peripatetic life. As a child I read Mark Twain books and learned about Samuel Clemens. Read morePublished 6 months ago by amazon addict
Beautiful book with many wonderful photographs of Twain during his life and travels. Would appeal to large audience and makes a great gift.Published 11 months ago by Avid reader
For a pictorial biography, the book was quite informative and readable--actually a page-turner. I think the selection of documents and photographs was outstanding. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Craig Chyrchel
Great book, I love anything Mark Twain. I was very happy with my purchasePublished 22 months ago by WGREGG
My daughter is a Mark Twain fan so I got her this book for Christmas 2013. She called me to say she absolutely loves this book. Score!!!Published on January 15, 2014 by N. Price