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Roughing It (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) Paperback – June 27, 2003
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Roughing It tells the true-ish escapades of Twain in the American West. Although he clearly "speaks with forked tongue," Roughing It is informative as well as humorous. From stagecoach travel to the etiquette of prospecting, the modern reader gains considerable insight into that much-fictionalized time and place. Do you know about sagebrush, for example?
Sage-brush is very fair fuel, but as a vegetable it is a distinguished failure. Nothing can abide the taste of it but the jackass and his illegitimate child, the mule. But their testimony to its nutritiousness is worth nothing, for they will eat pine knots, or anthracite coal, or brass filings, or lead pipe, or old bottles, or anything that comes handy, and then go off looking as grateful as if they had had oysters for dinner.Roughing It is informally structured around the narrator's attempts to strike it rich. He meets a motley, colorful crew in the process; many mishaps occur, and it shouldn't surprise you that Twain does not emerge a man of means. But he withstands it all in such a relentless good humor that his misfortune inspires laughter. Roughing It is wonderful entertainment and reminds you how funny the world can be--even its grimmer districts--when you're traveling with the right writer. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The 21st century reader now sees the momentous impact of Samuel Colt's "Navy Revolver" on frontier society, fully comprehends a "Stamp Mill's" importance to the silver mines of the Comstock Lode, and is in complete agreement about the "thoroughbrace's" necessity to the Overland Stage traveler's comfort! This edition also contains all 304 first edition illustrations, another great aid allowing the modern reader to take a virtual walk into a vanished time.
In the "Foreword" to this edition, Editor Harriet Elinor Smith notes, " The vernacular style of ROUGHING IT often seems surprisingly fresh to modern readers.....". I'm betting that many readers, younger ones especially, may approach this book with dread, only to become immersed in the rollicking adventure, and reach the end of ROUGHING IT with regret. The readers who return for a second, third or more reading, will discover many levels of depth to ROUGHING IT that will continue to entertain and educate reading after reading, year after year.
From the "Foreword" to this edition, Editor Smith also observes, "Although readers have long been entertained by ROUGHING IT, it has gradually become part of all serious study of American culture.Read more ›
The story follows Twain's journey as he travels west by stagecoach, train, wagon, horse, and ship. He meets surly frontiersmen, murderers, thieves, fortune-hunters, and men of ill-repute. Even here, he finds the good beneath the dirt. I especially enjoyed his anecdote of Scotty Briggs, a man trying to hire a minister to attend over his friend's funeral. Hilarious stuff! And so true to human nature.
Throughout his account, Twain makes a habit of degrading his own work ethic, nudging us in the ribs as he highlights his aversion to labor. With this in mind, the title seems to be a tongue-in-cheek affair. In fact, I found his accounts much less rustic and more modern than expected. Sure, we can travel across the U.S. quicker these days, but the politics and economics of Twain's age parallel our own. Will we never learn? Isn't this the point of history, to avoid repeating our errors?
Although criticized in his day for using coarse language and a working-class, Twain held to his guns and gave us some magnificent humor with which to swallow his pointed barbs. He was a master satirist, and even in a travelogue such as this, his views shine through. And thank goodness! A century and a half later, I'm thankful for his insights.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Despite heavy doses of farce and tongue in cheek, I felt as if the old mining west was more familiar at the end and the trip was very amusing.Published 13 days ago by G. Tang
Takes diligence to read because of the language and usage of the period, but oh-so-interestiing.Published 19 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great Deal! Excellent Product!! Super Fast Delivery!!! Thanks a Bunch!!!!Published 29 days ago by Brett
It's Mark Twain, who can stop laughing? Truly a master of the understatement.Published 1 month ago by pat berger
Excellent. A view of the Old West by one who was there. Even though Mark Twain wrote this book years after he returned, having to rely on notes, this book is well worth the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer