Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings

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"I have told you nothing about man that is not true." You must pardon me if I repeat that remark now and then in these letters; I want you to take seriously the things I am telling you, and I feel that if I were in your place and you in mine, I should need that reminder from time to time, to keep my credulity from flagging.

In Letters from the Earth, Twain presents himself as the Father of History -- reviewing and interpreting events from the Garden of Eden through the Fall and the Flood, translating the papers of Adam and his descendants through the generations. First published fifty years after his death, this eclectic collection is vintage Twain: sharp, witty, imaginative, complex, and wildly funny.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Harper Collins
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Published on
Mar 26, 2013
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780062287267
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A Very Serious Thing was first published in 1988. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

"It is a very serious thing to be a funny woman." –Frances Miriam Berry Whitcher

A Very Serious Thing is the first book-length study of a part of American literature that has been consistently neglected by scholars and underrepresented in anthologies—American women's humorous writing. Nancy Walker proposes that the American humorous tradition to be redefined to include women's humor as well as men's, because, contrary to popular opinion, women do have a sense of humor.

Her book draws on history, sociology, anthropology, literature, and psychology to posit that the reasons for neglect of women's humorous expression are rooted in a male-dominated culture that has officially denied women the freedom and self-confidence essential to the humorist. Rather than a study of individual writers, the book is an exploration of relationships between cultural realities—including expectations of "true womanhood"—and women's humorous response to those realities.

Humorous expression, Walker maintains, is at odds with the culturally sanctioned ideal of the "lady," and much of women's humor seems to accept, while actually denying, this ideal. In fact, most of American women's humorous writing has been a feminist critique of American culture and its attitudes toward women, according to the author.

"We sai1ed 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." — Following the Equator
So begins this classic piece of travel writing, brimming with Twain's celebrated brand of ironic, tongue-in-cheek humor. Written just before the turn of the century, the book recounts a lecture tour in which he circumnavigated the globe via steamship, including stops at the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, Fiji Islands, New Zealand, India, South Africa and elsewhere.
View the world through the eyes of the celebrated author as he describes a rich range of experiences — visiting a leper colony in Hawaii, shark fishing in Australia, tiger hunting, diamond mining in South Africa, and riding the rails in India, an activity Twain enjoyed immensely as suggested by this description of a steep descent in a hand-car:
"The road fell sharply down in front of us and went corkscrewing in and out around the crags and precipices, down, down, forever down, suggesting nothing so exactly or so uncomfortably as a crooked toboggan slide with no end to it. . . . I had previously had but one sensation like the shock of that departure, and that was the gaspy shock that took my breath away the first time that I was discharged from the summit of a toboggan slide. But in both instances the sensation was pleasurable — intensely so; it was a sudden and immense exaltation, a mixed ecstasy of deadly fright and unimaginable joy. I believe that this combination makes the perfection of human delight."
A wealth of similarly revealing observations enhances this account, along with perceptive descriptions and discussions of people, climate, flora and fauna, indigenous cultures, religion, customs, politics, food, and many other topics. Despite its jocular tone, this book has a serious thread running through it, recording Twain's observations of the mistreatments and miseries of mankind. Enhanced by over 190 illustrations, including 173 photographs, this paperback edition — the only one avai1able — will be welcomed by all admirers of Mark Twain or classic travel books.
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