Happy Birthday, Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s 182nd birthday is coming up on November 30th and we are celebrating by highlighting the Press’s recent publications on the great writer from Missouri.


Scharnhorst coverTHE LIFE OF MARK TWAIN
The Early Years, 1835–1871
Gary Scharnhorst
March | Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2144-5 | $36.95 T | 724 pp. 25 illus.

“Gary Scharnhorst’s monumental biography sets a new standard for comprehensiveness. This will prove to be the standard biography for our generation.”—Alan Gribben, author of Mark Twain’s Literary Resources: A Reconstruction of His Library and Reading

“Clear and engaging, Scharnhorst’s prose keeps you rolling happily through this consummate American adventure.”—Bruce Michelson, author of Printer’s Devil: Mark Twain and the American Publishing Revolution

Over three volumes, Gary Scharnhorst elucidates the life of arguably the greatest American writer and reveals the alchemy of his gifted imagination. This is the first multi-volume biography of Samuel Clemens to appear in over a century. All Clemens biographers since then have either tailored their narratives to fit a single volume or focused on a particular aspect of Clemens’s life; this new, comprehensive biography is plotted from beginning to end. The first volume follows Clemens from his childhood in Missouri to his work in printshops, his career as a Mississippi River pilot, his writing stint in Nevada, and his trip to Europe and the Holy Land, and ends with his move east to Buffalo, New York.

With dozens of Twain biographies available, what is left unsaid? On average, a hundred Clemens letters and a couple of his interviews surface every year. Scharnhorst has located numerous documents, including some which have been presumed lost, relevant to Clemens’s life.

Gary Scharnhorst is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico. He is the author or editor of fifty books, including Mark Twain on Potholes and Politics: Letters to the Editor. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Peter G. Beidler
JANUARY | Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2138-4 | $40.00 S
212 pp. | 57 illus. | 6 x 9

“Dr. Beidler’s critiques of inaccurate literary analyses and book illustrations will be of real value to historians and archaeologists with an interest in the navigation and trade on the western rivers, as well as to professionals in the field of American literature, and especially to all readers who want to know about the river world of Huck Finn.”—Kevin Crisman, author of The Eagle: An American Brig on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812

The raft that carries Huck and Jim down the Mississippi River is often seen as a symbol of adventure and freedom, but the physical specifics of the raft itself are rarely considered. Peter Beidler shows that understanding the material world of Huckleberry Finn, its limitations and possibilities, is vital to truly understanding Mark Twain’s novel. He illustrates how experts on Twain’s works have misinterpreted important aspects of the story due to their unfamiliarity with the various rivercraft that figure in the book.

Huck and Jim’s little raft is not made of logs, as it is often depicted in illustrations, but of sawn planks, and it was originally part of a much larger raft. Beidler explains why this matters and describes the other rivercraft that appear in the book. He gives what will almost certainly be the last word on the vexed question of whether the lengthy “raft episode,” removed at the publisher’s suggestion from the novel, should be restored to its original place.

Peter G. Beidler is the Lucy G. Moses Distinguished Professor of English, Emeritus, at Lehigh University and has written many books, including A Reader’s Guide to the Novels of Louise Erdrich. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Recently available:

Harrington Jenn coverMARK TWAIN AND FRANCE
The Making of a New American Identity
Paula Harrington and Ronald Jenn
Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2119-3 | 50.00 S | 248 pp.
12 photos | 6 x 9

“Alternately takes up panoramic historical and cultural vistas and carefully analyzes passages from all sorts of text with judgment and a sense of proportion.”—Tom Quirk, University of Missouri, author of Mark Twain and Human Nature

“The authors work seamlessly back and forth between historical data, biographical detail, and attention to multiple works by Twain that illuminate his complex relationship to the French and to France.”—Linda A. Morris, University of California, author of Gender Play in Mark Twain

While critics have generally dismissed Mark Twain’s relationship with France as hostile, Harrington and Jenn see Twain’s use of the French as a foil to help construct his identity as “the representative American.” Examining new materials that detail his Montmatre study, the carte de visite album, and a chronology of his visits to France, the book offers close readings of writings that have been largely ignored, such as The Innocents Adrift manuscript and the unpublished chapters of A Tramp Abroad, combining literary analysis, socio-historical context and biographical research.

Paula Harrington is director of the Farnham Writers’ Center and an assistant professor of writing at Colby College. In 2013, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Paris, doing research that led to her collaboration with Jenn on this book. She lives in Portland, Maine. Ronald Jenn is a professor at Université de Lille, France. He is the author of La Pseudo-traduction, de Cervantès à Mark Twain. He lives in Lille, France.

Tracy Wuster
Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2056-1 | $60.00 S

“What makes this book a fresh and welcome addition to Mark Twain criticism is its focus on particular aspects of cultural production: periodicals, the lyceum circuit, after-dinner speeches, subscription publishing, and the book mock-ups prepared for the canvassers. Wuster is particularly good at bringing us in close for an inspection of the machinery of cultural judgement in periodicals, reviews of authors and their comic writing, as well as reviews of performance on the lecture circuit.”—James Caron, author of Mark Twain, Unsanctified Newspaper Reporter

Letters to the Editor
Edited by Gary Scharnhorst
Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2046-2 | $35.00 S

“As aggressive a moralist and critic as Twain seems in hi more conventional fiction, here Twain is assertive, fantastically comic, lawlessly imaginative—unruly, strident, and irascible. This raw newspaper journalism is central to understanding the writing style fo ‘Mark Twain’ as it had to be adjusted by editors like Bret Harte, William Dean Howells, and Livy Clemens for his work to rise to universal stature as art. More important, the journalism is central to understanding the pragmatic, human-centered ideology that drives Twains’ work.”—Choice

To browse our entire collection of Mark Twain titles, see our Mark Twain and His Circle series, edited by Tom Quirk and John Bird. This series incorporates books on Mark Twain and the several circles he inhabited (domestic, political, artistic, and other) to provide a venue for new research in Twain studies and, from time to time, to reprint significant studies that have been too long out of print.

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