Beginning with the piece that made Mark Twain famous--"The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"--and ending with his fanciful "How I Edited an Agricultural Paper," this treasure trove of an anthology, an abridgment of the 1888 original, collects twenty of Twain's own pieces, in addition to tall tales, fables, and satires by forty-three of Twain's contemporaries, including Washington Irving, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ambrose Bierce, William Dean Howells, Joel Chandler Harris, Artemus Ward, and Bret Harte.
About the Author
Mark Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was an American humorist and writer, who is best known for his enduring novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has been called "the Great American Novel." Raised in Hannibal, Missouri, Twain held a variety of jobs including typesetter, riverboat pilot, and miner before achieving nationwide attention for his work as a journalist with "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." He earned critical and popular praise for his wit and enjoyed a successful career as a public speaker in addition to his writing. Twain's works were remarkable for his ability to capture colloquial speech, although his adherence to the vernacular of the time has resulted in the suppression of his works by schools in modern times. Twain's birth in 1835 coincided with a visit by Halley's Comet, and Twain predicted, accurately, that he would "go out with it" as well, dying the day following the comet's return in 1910.
Roy Blount Jr.'s recent books include the memoir Be Sweet and Roy Blount's Book of Southern Humor.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 - April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel," and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion's newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, before heading west to join Orion. He was a failure at gold mining, so he next turned to journalism. While a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, which proved to be very popular and brought him nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling. He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker. His wit and satire earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. However, he lacked financial acumen. Though he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures, in particular the Paige Compositor, and was forced to declare bankruptcy. With the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers, however, he eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain worked hard to ensure that all of his creditors were paid in full, even though his bankruptcy had relieved him of the legal responsibility. Born during a visit by Halley's Comet, he died on its return. He was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age," and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature."
"Old pieces of humor are like antique toys: Some of them still work and some don't, but they all have a certain fascination. Especially if we know that they worked for Mark Twain. And when you find one that does still work after, say, a century and a half, if you are like me you say things like 'Look at that workmanship' to cover your wonderment at sharing inner-child glee with someone who was in the grave when your grandmother was born. To my surprise, I feel that way about a good many pieces in this book." --from the Introduction by Roy Blount, Jr.
"Mark Twain is the Lincoln of our literature."--William Dean Howells