Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Roughing It (6). 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:

[Capt. Ned Blakely]: “…steadfastly believed that the first and last aim and object of the law and lawyers was to defeat justice.” p. 792.

“Mrs. F. was an able Romanticist of the ineffable school—I know no other name to apply to a school whose heroines are all dainty and all perfect.” p. 798.

Jim Blaine: “But mind you, there ain’t anything ever reely lost; everything that people can’t understand and don’t see the reason of does good if you only hold on and give it a fair shake; Prov’dence don’t fire no blank ca’tridges, boys.” p. 818.

“…the eternal spring of San Francisco….” p. 837.

“…and glancing furtively in at home lights and fireside gatherings, out of the night shadows.” p. 850.

“…the thoughts of one whose dreams were all of the past, whose life was a failure, a tired man, burdened with the present, and indifferent to the future; a man without ties, hopes, interests, waiting for rest and the end.” p. 854.

“…snore like a steamboat….” p. 859.

“…long, long before the missionaries braved a thousand privations to come and make them [Hawaiians] permanently miserable by telling them how beautiful and how blissful a place heaven is, and how nearly impossible it is to get there.” p. 877.

“I found home a dreary place after my long absence; for half the children I had known were now wearing whiskers…and few of the grown people I had been acquainted with remained at their hearthstones prosperous and happy—some of them had wandered to other scenes, some were in jail, and the rest had been hanged.” p. 960.

Comment: Van Wyck Brooks in The Ordeal of Mark Twain, said that Mark Twain could have been America’s Shakespeare, but he enjoyed the prosperity he commanded by turning to comedy. RayS.

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