Friday, October 2, 2009

Roughing It (3). Mark Twain.

New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc. 1872 (1984).

Why read it? Twain records a journey from St. Louis across the plains to Nevada, a visit to the Mormons, and life and adventures in Virginia City, San Francisco, and the Sandwich Islands. Filled with tall tales, vivid descriptions, narratives of adventure and character sketches.

Sample Ideas and Quotes:

“Whenever he [Joseph Smith writing the Mormon Bible] found his speech growing too modern…he ladled in a few such scriptural phrases as ‘exceeding sore,’ ‘and it came to pass,’ etc. and made things satisfactory again.” p. 617.

“Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs…and after these a pipe…a ‘downgrade,’ a flying coach…and a contented heart—these make happiness…what all the ages have struggled for.” p. 628.

“…the scholarly savages in The Last of the Mohicans who are fittingly associated with backwoodsmen who divide each sentence into two equal parts: one part critically grammatical, refined and choice of language, and the other part…an attempt to talk like a hunter or a mountaineer.” p. 634.

“…a Washoe wind…blows flimsy houses down, lifts shingle roofs occasionally, rolls up tin ones like sheet music, now and then blows a stage coach over and spills the passengers; and tradition says the reason there are so many bald people there, is, that the wind blows the hair off their heads while they are looking skyward after their hats.” p. 643.

“… they would take up a straw and pick their teeth like a member of Congress.” p. 646.

“Nothing could disturb the sleep that fettered us, for it had been fairly earned, and if our consciences had any sins on them they had to adjourn court for that night, anyway.” p. 650.

“I had quickly learned to tell a horse from a cow, and was full of anxiety to learn more.” p. 658.

To be continued.

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