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The American Claimant is a delightful, humorous tale by Mark Twain about mistaken identities and several role switches.
Includes Newly Commissioned Endnotes
Arguably the first major American novel to satirize the political milieu of Washington, D.C. and the wild speculation schemes that exploded across the nation in the years that followed the Civil War, The Gilded Age gave this remarkable era its name. Co-written by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, this rollicking novel is rife with unscrupulous politicians, colorful plutocrats, and blindly optimistic speculators caught up in a frenzy of romance, murder, and surefire deals gone bust. First published in 1873 and filled with unforgettable characters such as the vainglorious Colonel Sellers and the ruthless Senator Dilsworthy, The Gilded Age is a hilarious and instructive lesson in American history.
In 1861, Mark Twain joined his older brother Orion, the newly appointed secretary of the Nevada Territory, on a stagecoach journey from Missouri to Carson City, Nevada. Planning to be gone for three months, Twain spent the next “six or seven years” exploring the great American frontier, from the monumental vistas of the Rocky Mountains to the lush landscapes of Hawaii. Along the way, he made and lost a theoretical fortune, danced like a kangaroo in the finest hotels of San Francisco, and came to terms with freezing to death in a snow bank—only to discover, in the light of morning, that he was fifteen steps from a comfortable inn.
As a record of the “variegated vagabondizing” that characterized his early years—before he became a national treasure—Roughing It is an indispensable chapter in the biography of Mark Twain. It is also, a century and a half after it was first published, both a fascinating history of the American West and a laugh-out-loud good time.
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Twain was practically bankrupt in 1894 due to a failed investment into a "revolutionary" typesetting machine. In an attempt to extricate himself from debt of $100,000 (equivalent of about $2.5 million in 2010) he undertook a tour of the British Empire in 1895, a route chosen to provide numerous opportunities for lectures in the English.
In Following the Equator, an account of that travel published in 1897, the author criticizes racism, imperialism and missionary zeal in observations woven into the narrative with classical Twain wit.
In keeping with that wit, and Twain's love of a tall tale, Twain included a number of fictional stories in the body of what is otherwise a non-fiction work. In particular, the story of how Cecil Rhodes made his fortune by finding a newspaper in the belly of a shark, and the story of how a man named Ed Jackson made good in life out of a fake letter of introduction to Cornelius Vanderbilt, were anthologized in Charles Neider (ed) The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain, (Doubleday, 1957) where they are presented as fiction.
A man may have no bad habits and have worse.
—Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.
The starting point of this lecturing-trip around the world was Paris, where we had been living a year or two.
We sailed for America, and there made certain preparations. This took but little time. Two members of my family elected to go with me. Also a carbuncle. The dictionary says a carbuncle is a kind of jewel. Humor is out of place in a dictionary.
We started westward from New York in midsummer, with Major Pond to manage the platform-business as far as the Pacific. It was warm work, all the way, and the last fortnight of it was suffocatingly smoky, for in Oregon and British Columbia the forest fires were raging. We had an added week of smoke at the seaboard, where we were obliged to wait awhile for our ship. She had been getting herself ashore in the smoke, and she had to be docked and repaired.
We sailed at last; and so ended a snail-paced march across the continent, which had lasted forty days.
We moved westward about mid-afternoon over a rippled and sparkling summer sea; an enticing sea, a clean and cool sea, and apparently a welcome sea to all on board; it certainly was to me, after the distressful dustings and smokings and swelterings of the past weeks. The voyage would furnish a three-weeks holiday, with hardly a break in it. We had the whole Pacific Ocean in front of us, with nothing to do but do nothing and be comfortable. The city of Victoria was twinkling dim in the deep heart of her smoke-cloud, and getting ready to vanish and now we closed the field-glasses and sat down on our steamer chairs contented and at peace. But they went to wreck and ruin under us and brought us to shame before all the passengers. They had been furnished by the largest furniture-dealing house in Victoria, and were worth a couple of farthings a dozen, though they had cost us the price of honest chairs. In the Pacific and Indian Oceans one must still bring his own deck-chair on board or go without, just as in the old forgotten Atlantic times—those Dark Ages of sea travel.
Hannibal, Missouri, on the banks of the Mississippi River, was host to riverboat travelers from around the world, providing a vigorous and variable atmosphere for the young Samuel Clemens to absorb. Clemens became a riverboat pilot and even chose his pen name—Mark Twain—from a term boatmen would call out signifying water depth at two fathoms, meaning safe clearance for travel. It was from this background that Life on the Mississippi emerged. It is an epochal record of America’s growth, a stirring remembrance of her vanished past. And it earned for its author his first recognition as a serious writer.
With an Introduction by Justin Kaplan
and an Afterword by John Seelye
From the Paperback edition.
Harriet E. Smith, Benjamin Griffin, Victor Fischer, Michael B. Frank, Sharon K. Goetz, Leslie Myrick
But above all, the work is an amazing record that disclosed Twain's unrestrained admiration of the French heroine's nobility of character. Throughout his life, she remained his favorite historical figure — "the most innocent, the most lovely, the most adorable child the ages have produced."
Completed when the author was nearly sixty, the book reveals a splendidly expressive side of Twain, who wrote, "I like the Joan of Arc best of all my books; & it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others: 12 years of preparation & 2 years of writing. The others needed no preparation, & got none."
Matchless in its workmanship, this lesser work will charm — and delightfully surprise — admirers and devotees of the great American author.
-Table of contents to every chapters in the book.
-Complete and formatted to improve your reading experience
Richly intermingling elements of burlesque, farce, and social satire with a wry look at the world market in art, Is He Dead? centers on a group of poor artists in Barbizon, France, who stage the death of a friend to drive up the price of his paintings. In order to make this scheme succeed, the artists hatch some hilarious plots involving cross-dressing, a full-scale fake funeral, lovers' deceptions, and much more.
Mark Twain was fascinated by the theater and made many attempts at playwriting, but this play is certainly his best. Is He Dead? may have been too "out there" for the Victorian 1890s, but today's readers will thoroughly enjoy Mark Twain's well-crafted dialogue, intriguing cast of characters, and above all, his characteristic ebullience and humor. In Shelley Fisher Fishkin's estimation, it is "a champagne cocktail of a play--not too dry, not too sweet, with just the right amount of bubbles and buzz."
Fueled by their appetite for glory, this motley crew of freebooters stands united in their unswerving devotion to the company commander, Sir Nigel Loring. Short, bald, and extremely nearsighted, Sir Nigel's unprepossessing appearance belies his warrior's heart and his chivalrous nature. The rollicking adventures of his company during the Hundred Years War center around Sir Nigel's loyal squire, Alleyne Edricson. Raised in the sheltered confines of a monastery, young Alleyne comes of age amid the rough-and-tumble of armed conflict and the bewildering ways of courtly love.
Best known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also a passionate historian. The White Company was his favorite among his own works; here, he offers flavorful, realistic depictions of life during the 14th century — from its weapons and apparel to its religious practice, and the close connection between the cycles of human existence, and the rhythm of the seasons. Readers of all ages will thrill to this spirited tale and its evocative portrait of the Middle Ages.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
A literary sensation when first published in 1899, Frank Norris' cult classic was one of the earliest works in American literature to present a compelling, realistic view of human nature at its most basic level. It was also the the basis for Erich von Stroheim's groundbreaking 1924 silent film, Greed. A riveting tale of avarice, degeneration, and death, McTeague is "one of the great works of the modern American imagination" (Alfred Kazin).
"The Blithedale Romance" is a classic romantic tale from the 19th century set in Colonial New England. It is based on George Ripley's Brook Farm socialistic experiment in 1841.
A virtual onslaught of acerbic, confrontational wordplay, The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary offers some 1,600 wickedly clever definitions to the vocabulary of everyday life. Little is sacred and few are safe, for Bierce targets just about any pursuit, from matrimony to immortality, that allows our willful failings and excesses to shine forth.
This new edition is based on David E. Schultz and S. T. Joshi’s exhaustive investigation into the book’s writing and publishing history. All of Bierce’s known satiric definitions are here, including previously uncollected, unpublished, and alternative entries. Definitions dropped from previous editions have been restored while nearly two hundred wrongly attributed to Bierce have been excised. For dedicated Bierce readers, an introduction and notes are also included.
Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary is a classic that stands alongside the best work of satirists such as Twain, Mencken, and Thurber. This unabridged edition will be celebrated by humor fans and word lovers everywhere.
This is a free digital copy of a book that has been carefully scanned by Google as part of a project to make the world's books discoverable online. To make this print edition available as an ebook, we have extracted the text using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and submitted it to a review process to ensure its accuracy and legibility across different screen sizes and devices. Google is proud to partner with libraries to make this book available to readers everywhere.
"It is a great novel and belongs on anybody's list, absolutely." — Garrison Keillor
An eighteen-year-old girl without money or connections ventures forth from her small town in search of a better life in Theodore Dreiser's revolutionary first novel. The chronicle of Carrie Meeber's rise from obscurity to fame — and the effects of her progress on the men who use her and are used in turn — aroused a storm of controversy and debate upon its debut in 1900. The author's nonjudgmental portrait of a heroine who violates the contemporary moral code outraged some critics, including the book's publisher, Frank Doubleday, who tried to back out of his agreement his firm had made with Dreiser. But others were elated — and Dreiser's compelling plot and realistic characters continue to fascinate readers.
"Sister Carrie stands outside the brief traffic of the customary stage. It leaves behind an inescapable impression of bigness, of epic sweep and dignity. It is not a mere story, not a novel in the customary American meaning of the word; it is at once a psalm of life and a criticism of life … [Dreiser's] aim is not merely to tell a tale; his aim is to show the vast ebb and flow of forces which sway and condition human destiny. The thing he seeks to do is to stir, to awaken, to move. One does not arise from such a book as Sister Carrie with a smirk of satisfaction; one leaves it infinitely touched." — H. L. Mencken
The greed of his family has led wealthy old Martin Chuzzlewit to become suspicious and misanthropic, leaving his grandson and namesake to make his own way in the world. And so young Martin sets out from the Wiltshire home of his supposed champion, the scheming architect Pecksniff, to seek his fortune in America. In depicting Martin's journey - an experience that teaches him to question his inherited self-interest and egotism - Dickens created many vividly realized figures: the brutish lout Jonas Chuzzlewit, plotting to gain the family fortune; Martin's optimistic manservant, Mark Tapley; gentle Tom Pinch; and the drunken and corrupt private nurse, Mrs Gamp. With its portrayal of greed, blackmail and murder, and its searing satire on America Dickens's novel is a powerful and blackly comic story of hypocrisy and redemption.