This collection of lesser-known little gems by Mark Twain begins with a witty account of a fictional town called Hadleyburg, which prides itself on its long untarnished tradition of incorruptible citizens. One day someone in the town offends a stranger passing through and he vows to take revenge by plotting an elaborate scheme to show the whole nation just how corruptible this sanctimonious bastion of virtue really is. Through a series of cleverly placed letters promising a fortune, the insidious outsider lays a trap for each of HadleyburgAEs leading citizens. Twain is at his best here poking fun at small-town hypocrisy as the self-satisfied pillars of the community are done in by their own greed.
Also included are fourteen other short pieces of fiction and nonfiction, including TwainAEs account of his literary debut as a reporter, in which he described the harrowing journey and rescue of some ship-wrecked sailors; an essay on the famous authorAEs ofirst lie, o which begins humorously but quickly turns into a serious commentary on the silent lies society tolerates to perpetuate such injustices as slavery and prejudice; an amusing, tongue-in-cheek petition to Queen Victoria regarding a tax bill sent to Twain by the British revenue office for an amount due on sales of his books in England; an oEsquimau MaidenAEs Romanceo; a detective story; and many other intriguing, scarcely known pieces.
These interesting and entertaining short works will be a welcome discovery to all those who have enjoyed TwainAEs popular novels and stories.
About the Author
Shelley Fisher Fishkin is Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities, Professor of English and Director of American Studies at Stanford University. She is the author of "Lighting Out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture "(1997); "Was Huck Black? Mark Twain and African-American Voices "(1993), selected as an Outstanding Academic Book by "Choice; "and "From Fact to Fiction: Journalism and Imaginative Writing in America "(2000), winner of a Frank Luther Mott/Kappa Tau Alpha Award for outstanding research in journalism history. She is also the editor of the 29-volume "Oxford Mark Twain "and the "Oxford Historical Guide to Mark Twain. "Barry Moser is one of the foremost wood engravers in the United States and is the proprietor of the Pennyroyal Press. Among other books, he illustrated "Huckleberry Finn "(California, 1985), "Moby Dick "(California, 1981), "Dante's Inferno "(California 1980), "Purgatorio "(California, 1981), and "Paradiso "(California, 1984), and the "Holy Bible "(1999). The Mark Twain Project is housed within the Mark Twain Papers, the world's largest archive of primary materials by this major American writer. Under the direction of General Editor Robert H. Hirst, the Project's five editors are producing the first comprehensive edition of all Mark Twain's writings, more than thirty volumes of which have so far been published by the University of California Press.