Monday, October 5, 2009

Roughing It (4). 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:

“A member of the Nevada legislature] proposed to save three dollars a day by dispensing with the chaplain [for the legislature]; yet that short-sighted man needed the chaplain more than any other member, perhaps, for he generally sat with his feet on the desk, eating raw turnips, during the morning prayer.” p. 667.

“His one striking peculiarity was his…fashion of loving and using big words for their own sakes, and independent of any bearing they might have upon the thought he was proposing to convey.” p. 674.

“In truth his air was so natural and so simple that one was always catching himself accepting his stately sentences as meaning something, when they really meant nothing in the world.” p. 674.

“If a word was long and grand and resonant, that was sufficient to win the old man’s love, and he would drop that word into the most out-of-the-way place in a sentence or a subject, and be as pleased with it as if it were perfectly luminous with meaning.” p. 674.

“However, like the rest of the world, I still go on underrating men of gold ,and glorifying men of mica….” p. 781.

“After breakfast we felt better, and the zest of life soon came back.” p. 703.

“The reader cannot know what a land-slide is, unless he has lived in that country and seen the whole side of a mountain taken off some fine morning and deposited down in the valley, leaving a vast, treeless, unsightly scar upon the mountain’s front to keep the circumstance fresh in his memory.” p. 705.

“And now the General, with exultation in his face, got up and made an impassioned effort; he pounded the table, he banged the law books, he shouted, and roared, and howled, he quoted from everything and everybody, poetry, sarcasm, statistics, history, pathos, bathos, blasphemy, and wound up with a grand war-whoop for free speech, freedom of the press, free schools, the Glorious bird of America and the principles of eternal justice.” p. 707.

To be continued.

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