Biographical note. American author and humorist. Twain is most noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has since been called the Great. Over years, Project Gutenberg contributors did a fantastic work in digitizing the texts written by Mark Twain. So far, over 60 novels and. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Mark Twain is the pen name for American author Samuel Kindle Store · Kindle eBooks · Literature & Fiction.
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Project Gutenberg offers free ebooks for Kindle, iPad, Nook, Android, and iPhone. Project Gutenberg · 59, free ebooks · by Mark Twain. The Entire Project Gutenberg Works of Mark Twain by Mark Twain. No cover. Project Gutenberg · 59, free ebooks · by Mark Twain. Nimensä pilannut kaupunki by Mark Twain. No cover available. Download; Bibrec.
Mark Twain Excerpt: One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Europe on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, I looked about me for the right sort of person to accompany me in the capacity of agent, and finally hired a Mr. Harris for this service.
A runaway slave was regarded as worse than a wild beast, and treated worse when caught. Once the children saw one brought into Florida by six men who took him to an empty cabin, where they threw him on the floor and bound him with ropes.
His groans were loud and frequent. Such things made an impression that would last a lifetime. Slave punishment, too, was not unknown, even in the household. Jennie especially was often saucy and obstreperous.
Jane Clemens, with more strength of character than of body, once undertook to punish her for insolence, whereupon Jennie snatched the whip from her hand.
John Clemens was sent for in haste. He came at once, tied Jennie's wrists together with a bridle rein, and administered chastisement across the shoulders with a cowhide. These were things all calculated to impress a sensitive child.
In pleasant weather the children roamed over the country, hunting berries and nuts, drinking sugar-water, tying knots in love-vine, picking the petals from daisies to the formula "Love me-love me not," always accompanied by one or more, sometimes by half a dozen, of their small darky followers. Shoes were taken off the first of April. For a time a pair of old woolen stockings were worn, but these soon disappeared, leaving the feet bare for the summer.
One of their dreads was the possibility of sticking a rusty nail into the foot, as this was liable to cause lockjaw, a malady regarded with awe and terror. They knew what lockjaw was--Uncle John Quarles's black man, Dan, was subject to it. Sometimes when he opened his mouth to its utmost capacity he felt the joints slip and was compelled to put down the cornbread, or jole and greens, or the piece of 'possum he was eating, while his mouth remained a fixed abyss until the doctor came and restored it to a natural position by an exertion of muscular power that would have well-nigh lifted an ox.
Uncle John Quarles, his home, his farm, his slaves, all were sources of never-ending delight. Perhaps the farm was just an ordinary Missouri farm and the slaves just average negroes, but to those children these things were never apparent. There was a halo about anything that belonged to Uncle John Quarles, and that halo was the jovial, hilarious kindness of that gentle-hearted, humane man. To visit at his house was for a child to be in a heaven of mirth and pranks continually.
When the children came for eggs he would say:. Tell your maw to feed 'em parched corn and drive 'em uphill," and this was always a splendid stroke of humor to his small hearers. Also, he knew how to mimic with his empty hands the peculiar patting and tossing of a pone of corn-bread before placing it in the oven. He would make the most fearful threats to his own children, for disobedience, but never executed any of them. When they were out fishing and returned late he would say:.
Nothing could exceed the ferocity of this threat, and all the children, with delightful terror and curiosity, wondered what would happen--if it ever did happen--that would result in giving a child that peculiar savor.
Altogether it was a curious early childhood that Little Sam had--at least it seems so to us now. Doubtless it was commonplace enough for that time and locality.
Perhaps John Quarles's jocular, happy-go-lucky nature and general conduct did not altogether harmonize with John Clemens's more taciturn business methods. Notwithstanding the fact that he was a builder of dreams, Clemens was neat and methodical, with his papers always in order. He had a hearty dislike for anything resembling frivolity and confusion, which very likely were the chief features of John Quarles's storekeeping.
At all events, they dissolved partnership at the end of two or three years, and Clemens opened business for himself across the street.
He also practised law whenever there were cases, and was elected justice of the peace, acquiring the permanent title of "Judge.
Then a partnership was formed with a man who developed neither capital nor business ability, and proved a disaster in the end. The modest tide of success which had come with John Clemens's establishment at Florida had begun to wane.
Another boy, Henry, born in July, , added one more responsibility to his burdens. There still remained a promise of better things. There seemed at least a good prospect that the scheme for making Salt River navigable was likely to become operative.
With even small boats bateaux running as high as the lower branch of the South Fork, Florida would become an emporium of trade, and merchants and property-owners of that village would reap a harvest. An act of the Legislature was passed incorporating the navigation company, with Judge Clemens as its president. Congress was petitioned to aid this work of internal improvement.
So confident was the company of success that the hamlet was thrown into a fever of excitement by the establishment of a boatyard and, the actual construction of a bateau; but a Democratic Congress turned its back on the proposed improvement. No boat bigger than a skiff ever ascended Salt River, though there was a wild report, evidently a hoax, that a party of picnickers had seen one night a ghostly steamer, loaded and manned, puffing up the stream. An old Scotchman, Hugh Robinson, when he heard of it, said:.
In Scotland, it often happens that when people have been killed, or are troubled, they send their spirits abroad and they are seen as much like themselves as a reflection in a looking- glass.
That was a ghost of some wrecked steamboat. They killed Salt River improvements, and Salt River has killed them. Their ghosts went up the river on a ghostly steamboat. It is possible that this comment, which was widely repeated and traveled far, was the origin of the term "Going up Salt River," as applied to defeated political candidates. No other attempt was ever made to establish navigation on Salt River.
Rumors of railroads already running in the East put an end to any such thought.
Railroads could run anywhere and were probably cheaper and easier to maintain than the difficult navigation requiring locks and dams. Salt River lost its prestige as a possible water highway and became mere scenery. Railroads have ruined greater rivers than the Little Salt, and greater villages than Florida, though neither Florida nor Salt River has been touched by a railroad to this day.
Perhaps such close detail of early history may be thought unnecessary in a work of this kind, but all these things were definite influences in the career of the little lad whom the world would one day know as Mark Twain. The death of little Margaret was the final misfortune that came to the Clemens family in Florida. Doubtless it hastened their departure. There was a superstition in those days that to refer to health as good luck, rather than to ascribe it to the kindness of Providence, was to bring about a judgment.
Jane Clemens one day spoke to a neighbor of their good luck in thus far having lost no member of their family. That same day, when the sisters, Pamela and Margaret, returned from school, Margaret laid her books on the table, looked in the glass at her flushed cheeks, pulled out the trundle-bed, and lay down.
She was never in her right mind again. The doctor was sent for and diagnosed the case "bilious fever. He came to the side of the trundle-bed and pulled at the bedding near Margaret's shoulder for some time before he woke. Next day the little girl was "picking at the coverlet," and it was known that she could not live. About a week later she died. She was nine years old, a beautiful child, plump in form, with rosy cheeks, black hair, and bright eyes.
This was in August, It was Little Sam's first sight of death--the first break in the Clemens family: The shoemaker who lived next door claimed to have seen several weeks previous, in a vision, the coffin and the funeral- procession pass the gate by the winding road, to the cemetery, exactly as it happened.
Matters were now going badly enough with John Clemens. Yet he never was without one great comforting thought--the future of the Tennessee land. It underlaid every plan; it was an anodyne for every ill. A blessing for him that this was so, for he had little else to brighten his days. Negotiations looking to the sale of the land were usually in progress. When the pressure became very hard and finances were at their lowest ebb, it was offered at any price--at five cents an acre, sometimes.
When conditions improved, however little, the price suddenly advanced even to its maximum of one thousand dollars an acre. Now and then a genuine offer came along, but, though eagerly welcomed at the moment, it was always refused after a little consideration. There was one other who believed in the Tennessee land--Jane Clemens's favorite cousin, James Lampton, the courtliest, gentlest, most prodigal optimist of all that guileless race. To James Lampton the land always had "millions in it"--everything had.
He made stupendous fortunes daily, in new ways.
The bare mention of the Tennessee land sent him off into figures that ended with the download of estates in England adjoining those of the Durham Lamptons, whom he always referred to as "our kindred," casually mentioning the whereabouts and health of the "present earl.
The words "Tennessee land," with their golden promise, became his earliest remembered syllables. He grew to detest them in time, for they came to mean mockery.
One of the offers received was the trifling sum of two hundred and fifty dollars, and such was the moment's need that even this was considered. Then, of course, it was scornfully refused. In some autobiographical chapters which Orion Clemens left behind he said:. What a less speculative and more logical reasoner would have done in the beginning, John Clemens did now; he selected a place which, though little more than a village, was on a river already navigable--a steamboat town with at least the beginnings of manufacturing and trade already established--that is to say, Hannibal, Missouri--a point well chosen, as shown by its prosperity to-day.
He did not delay matters. When he came to a decision, he acted quickly. He disposed of a portion of his goods and shipped the remainder overland; then, with his family and chattels loaded in a wagon, he was ready to set out for the new home.
Orion records that, for some reason, his father did not invite him to get into the wagon, and how, being always sensitive to slight, he had regarded this in the light of deliberate desertion. The wagon had gone a few feet when I was discovered and invited to enter.
How I wished they had not missed me until they had arrived at Hannibal. Then the world would have seen how I was treated and would have cried 'Shame! This incident, noted and remembered, long after became curiously confused with another, in Mark Twain's mind. In an autobiographical chapter published in The North American Review he tells of the move to Hannibal and relates that he himself was left behind by his absentminded family.
The incident of his own abandonment did not happen then, but later, and somewhat differently. It would indeed be an absent-minded family if the parents, and the sister and brothers ranging up to fourteen years of age, should drive off leaving Little Sam, age four, behind. Incidents were filtered through his vivid imagination until many of them bore little relation to the actual occurrence. Some of these lapses were only amusing, but occasionally they worked an unintentional injustice.
It is the author's purpose in every instance, so far as is possible, to keep the record straight. Hannibal in was already a corporate community and had an atmosphere of its own. It was a town with a distinct Southern flavor, though rather more astir than the true Southern community of that period; more Western in that it planned, though without excitement, certain new enterprises and made a show, at least, of manufacturing.
It was somnolent a slave town could not be less than that , but it was not wholly asleep--that is to say, dead--and it was tranquilly content. Mark Twain remembered it as "the white town drowsing in the sunshine of a summer morning,.
The little city was proud of its scenery, and justly so: The river, of course, was the great highway. Rafts drifted by; steamboats passed up and down and gave communication to the outside world; St.
Louis, the metropolis, was only one hundred miles away. Hannibal was inclined to rank itself as of next importance, and took on airs accordingly. It had society, too--all kinds--from the negroes and the town drunkards "General" Gaines and Jimmy Finn; later, Old Ben Blankenship up through several nondescript grades of mechanics and tradesmen to the professional men of the community, who wore tall hats, ruffled shirt-fronts, and swallow-tail coats, usually of some positive color-blue, snuff-brown, and green.
These and their families constituted the true aristocracy of the Southern town. Most of them had pleasant homes--brick or large frame mansions, with colonnaded entrances, after the manner of all Southern architecture of that period, which had an undoubted Greek root, because of certain drawing-books, it is said, accessible to the builders of those days.
Most of them, also, had means --slaves and land which yielded an income in addition to their professional earnings. They lived in such style as was considered fitting to their rank, and had such comforts as were then obtainable. It was to this grade of society that judge Clemens and his family belonged, but his means no longer enabled him to provide either the comforts or the ostentation of his class. He settled his family and belongings in a portion of a house on Hill Street--the Pavey Hotel; his merchandise he established modestly on Main Street, with Orion, in a new suit of clothes, as clerk.
Possibly the clothes gave Orion a renewed ambition for mercantile life, but this waned. Business did not begin actively, and he was presently dreaming and reading away the time. A little later he became a printer's apprentice, in the office of the Hannibal Journal, at his father's suggestion. Orion Clemens perhaps deserves a special word here.
He was to be much associated with his more famous brother for many years, and his personality as boy and man is worth at least a casual consideration. He was fifteen now, and had developed characteristics which in a greater or less degree were to go with him through life. Of a kindly, loving disposition, like all of the Clemens children, quick of temper, but always contrite, or forgiving, he was never without the fond regard of those who knew him best.
His weaknesses were manifold, but, on the whole, of a negative kind. Honorable and truthful, he had no tendency to bad habits or unworthy pursuits; indeed, he had no positive traits of any sort. That was his chief misfortune. Full of whims and fancies, unstable, indeterminate, he was swayed by every passing emotion and influence.
Daily he laid out a new course of study and achievement, only to fling it aside because of some chance remark or printed paragraph or bit of advice that ran contrary to his purpose.
Such a life is bound to be a succession of extremes--alternate periods of supreme exaltation and despair. In his autobiographical chapters, already mentioned, Orion sets down every impulse and emotion and failure with that faithful humility which won him always the respect, if not always the approval, of men.
Printing was a step downward, for it was a trade, and Orion felt it keenly. A gentleman's son and a prospective heir of the Tennessee land, he was entitled to a profession. To him it was punishment, and the disgrace weighed upon him. Then he remembered that Benjamin Franklin had been a printer and had eaten only an apple and a bunch of grapes for his dinner. Orion decided to emulate Franklin, and for a time he took only a biscuit and a glass of water at a meal, foreseeing the day when he should electrify the world with his eloquence.
He was surprised to find how clear his mind was on this low diet and how rapidly he learned his trade. Of the other children Pamela, now twelve, and Benjamin, seven, were put to school. They were pretty, attractive children, and Henry, the baby, was a sturdy toddler, the pride of the household. Little Sam was the least promising of the flock. Get more details on the offer here. And if you want to make sure that our posts definitely appear in your Facebook newsfeed, just follow these simple steps.
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Get the best cultural and educational resources on the web curated for you in a daily email. We never spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Samuel Clemens, the man known as Mark Twain, invented the American voice and became one of our greatest celebrities. His life mirrored his country's, as he grew from a Mississippi River boyhood in the days of the frontier, to a Wild-West journalist during the Gold Rush, to become the king of the eastern establishment and a global celebrity as America became an international power.
Along the way, Mark Twain keenly observed the characters and voices that filled the growing country, and left us our first authentically American literature. Ron Powers's magnificent biography offers the definitive life of the founding father of our culture.
Ron Powers, a Pulitzer Prize-winning and Emmy Award-winning writer and critic, has studied and written about Mark Twain for many years. He is the author of ten books, including Dangerous Water: He lives in Middlebury, Vermont. This book earns an honored place on the shelf of essential works on Mark Twain Ron Powers has done justice to an incomparably complex, rich, fruitful, and tangled life, and along the way he has granted us a glimpse into the heart of America, as well as the heart of America's greatest writer.
It is a tremendous achievement and anybody even vaguely interested in the subject should read it. Powers skillfully places his subject in historical context [and] quite rightly focuses on Twain's pitch-perfect ear and keen eye A convincing portrait of Twain as a volatile, moody, guilt-ridden, desperately insecure man who was often a puzzle to himself.
We feel we know him, as well as we can, as well as his most perceptive friend and fellow writer William Dean Howells knew him.