Mark Twain by Mark Twain
A Tramp Abroad, Following the Equator, Other Travels (Library of America No. 200)

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Synopsis

It was as a humorous travel writer, in The Innocents Abroad and Roughing It, that Mark Twain first became widely known, and at the height of his career he returned to the genre in the works collected here. Like those earlier books, the frequently hilarious A Tramp Abroad (1880)-based on his family's 16-month sojourn in Europe from April 1878 to August 1879-blends autobiography and fiction, facts and tall tales. Twain's send-up of Old World customs as well as his critical dissections of Wagnerian opera and the German language are often interlaced with American reminiscences, whether in the form of an extended discourse on the language of blue jays or the recollection of an elaborate practical joke in Hannibal, Missouri, involving a printer's devil and a skeleton. A Tramp Abroad is presented here with the author's original sketches.

Written at a time of financial trouble and personal loss (the death of the author's beloved daughter Susy), Following the Equator (1897) is a darker and more politicized account of a lecture tour around the world, with Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, India, Mauritius, and South Africa among the stop­overs. Using humorous but often biting anecdotes as well as keen journalist reporting, the book details bush life in Australia and the culture of the Maoris in New Zealand, while lashing out at social inequities such as the Indian caste system, and racist imperialism connected with European settlement and gold mining in southern Africa. Twain rounds out the volume with extensive historical accounts ranging from the Black Hole of Calcutta to the events in South Africa that would lead shortly to the Boer War.

This volume also includes 13 shorter pieces, most of them uncollected by the author, including a lengthy firsthand narrative of the shah of Persia's 1873 visit to London, an 1891 description of Richard Wagner's operas performed at Bayreuth, an 1897 account of Queen Victoria's jubilee in London, and an 1898 analysis of vitriolic Austrian parliamentary proceedings. The texts of several of these "other travels" are presented in newly corrected and fully restored versions.



 

About Mark Twain

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Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, in 1835, and died at Redding, Connecticut in 1910. In his person and in his pursuits he was a man of extraordinary contrasts. Although he left school at twelve when his father died, he was eventually awarded honorary degrees from Yale University, the University of Missouri, and Oxford University. His career encompassed such varied occupations as printer, Mississippi riverboat pilot, journalist, travel writer, and publisher. He made fortunes from his writing but toward the end of his life he had to resort to lecture tours to pay his debts. He was hot-tempered, profane, and sentimental?and also pessimistic, cynical, and tortured by self-doubt. His nostalgia helped produce some of his best books. He lives in American letters as a great artist, the writer whom William Dean Howells called “the Lincoln of our literature.”
 
Published March 4, 2010 by Library of America. 1050 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Mark Twain

Kirkus Reviews

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The arc of Twain’s life is captured with sweeping flourishes of fact supplemented by intimate details of his home and family life.

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The New York Times

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Ron Powers's biography recounts the crowded, whipsawing life of Mark Twain, part bum and part grandee.

Oct 02 2005 | Read Full Review of Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, F...

BC Books

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Notwithstanding the fact that Mark Twain is perhaps one of the most quoted authors of our times, I sometimes wonder how many of us have actually read more than one or two of his works.

May 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, F...

BC Books

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Since Mark Twain's Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is neither one of his most well-known works of prose, nor is it considered one of his best, it is somewhat surprising that it has been included in the Campfire Graphic Classic Novel Series along with such perennial Twain favorites as The Ad...

Mar 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, F...

The Washington Times

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"Well, there he stands - a bit concealed, a bit false, but still a colossus," H.L. Mencken wrote upon reading a biography of Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens). These words might well apply to the enormous first volume of Twain's autobiography.

Jan 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, F...

Common Sense Media

This book presents basic information about Mark Twain, his most famous books and characters -- and a few remarkable facts, such as the fact Halley's Comet passed overhead the year Twain was born and 75 years later, in the year he died.

Mar 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, F...

NJ.com

The relationship between Isabel and Twain becomes so poisoned that, in his final years, the author writes Clara a letter in which he calls his former secretary “a liar, forger, thief, drunkard and filthy-minded slut.” But in the end, Isabel triumphs.

Mar 21 2010 | Read Full Review of Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, F...

The New York Review of Books

and of another man he writes that he “was a tall, lean, skinny, yellow, toothless, bald-headed, rat-eyed professional liar and scoundrel…I have had contact with several conspicuously mean men, but they were noble compared to this bastard monkey.” Mr. Hill believes, no doubt correctly, that Mark T...

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The New York Review of Books

In the latest episode of the podcast, Andrew Delbanco talks with Andrew Martin about the first volume of Mark Twain’s unabridged Autobiography and the distinctive joys and challenges of reading Twain in the twenty-first century.

Apr 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, F...

The New York Review of Books

(From one of these last Twain said he heard the story of “The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” which made him famous.) Time hangs heavy and there is nothing else to do but listen to the providential stranger with his funny story, which (as Twain said) “may be spun out to great length, and may ...

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The New York Review of Books

Actually, it is his view that Twain did not marry above his station in any but the economic sense although, “like the most bourgeois of the bourgeois he delighted in money, and high living, and he fervently wished to become a member of the eastern establishment.” Surely, to get from Hannibal, Mis...

Sep 19 1996 | Read Full Review of Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, F...

ForeWord Reviews

No two men captured the zeitgeist of Gilded Age America more than Mark Twain, the cultural icon, and Theodore Roosevelt, the political one, claims the author in this dual biography and narrative history of 1890-1910.

Jul 16 2012 | Read Full Review of Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, F...

Kansas City Star

“Dear Mark Twain: Letters From His Readers” contains just that: an even 200 letters from your contemporaries (selected from the 12,500 letters you saved).

Apr 20 2013 | Read Full Review of Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, F...

The Pacific Northwest Inlander

Twain, celebrated in life for his acerbic wit, is even more tart here, sharing unpublished “unpopular convictions which common wisdom [forbade] him to utter” in life, as he writes in one of the book’s essays, “The Privilege of the Grave.” In three separate pieces, he lambastes the American pr...

Nov 03 2010 | Read Full Review of Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, F...

truthdig

While few readers will be aware that this piece had been first published over a hundred years ago in the North American Review (as part of the one-twentieth of the autobiography that was seen into print), for many, it represents Twain’s memories of childhood familiar from “Huckleberry Finn.” In t...

Dec 23 2010 | Read Full Review of Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad, F...

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