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This exhaustive - 700 pages - biography of Mark Twain covers, as the title says, probably all there is to be said about him. Being a cradle to grave affair, it should satisfy the curiosity of all his admirers and there are plenty of them around the world. The author is obviously one of them. He also has something else in common with his subject. He was born in Hannibal, Missouri, where Twain spent his early years, which is a good starting point.
Twain said and wrote a lot of things - many sayings and witticisms attributed to him may, of course, not be authentic, as his fans know, but perhaps that is one way of acknowledging the man's standing and greatness in the world of literature. Twain said; "Age is an issue of mind over matter. if you don't mind, it doesn't matter." This book should appeal immensely to anyone, young or not so young, wishing to know 'everything' about his life, philosophy, work, writings, beliefs and travels; Twain was also an inventor. And we learn a lot about his his anxieties, worries and problems. He was one of us. Ernest Hemingway said that modern American literature starts with Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" . A classic case of mind over matter!.
This is an authoritative, scholarly work on Mark Twain which is also a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Apr 10, 2007
The real Mark Twain
Ron Powers has written about Mark Twain, arguably the greatest American writer, warts and all. While it is obvious that he admires Twain, he doesn't hesitate to note Twain's flaws such as his ambivalent attitudes regarding acquisition of wealth and power--particularly when it applied to Twain's social circle and business advisors--and his tendency to hold lifelong grudges. Twain is shown here as an artist who struggles with his creations, a family man whose family suffered multiple tragedies, a businessman with no real head for business, a "humorist" who loved and hated with great intensity. Mark Twain is known to most readers as the author of the Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn novels, but he was far more than a writer of "boy adventures" and humor. He was also a complex man who wrote satires and diatribes about inequities in government, business and religion. Ron Powers chronicles Twain's development as a writer and as a man who struggled with his demons, a man who cared deeply about the downtrodden members of what he called "the damned human race." Powers brings the 19th and early 20th Centuries alive with anecdotes and historical notes which help the reader to better understand the times in which Mark Twain lived. Highly readable, with no "sanitizing" or bowdlerizing so common in previous biographies of Mark Twain, I believe this is the best of the Twain biographies and highly recommend it for both the scholar and the casual reader.
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