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The Singular Mark Twain

A Biography

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In this magisterial full-scale biography of America’s greatest storyteller and satirist, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Fred Kaplan refashions our image of Mark Twain and etches a vibrant portrait of a singular personality who created some of the most memorable literary characters of our culture. He coined the phrase “the Gilded Age,” spoke out vigorously against racism and imperialism, and in his multifaceted singularity as writer, businessman, polemicist, investor, inventor, and self-promoter became the most widely extolled and most dominant icon of American literature. As Kaplan writes, “There has been no one like him since.”

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 01, 2003 – Biographers have always found plenty to say about the life of Samuel Clemens (1835 1910). Kaplan's well-drawn life of America's beloved humorist and closet misanthrope is the latest in that regular flow, which began almost immediately after his death. Dictating the autobiography that was published only posthumously, Clemens observed, "I think we never become really & genuinely our entire & honest selves until we are dead and not then until we have been dead years & years." With this perspective, Kaplan does not impose a path or goal on Clemens's picaresque and opportunistic career, merely noting his belief in luck throughout. If Clemens had not failed to find regular employment as a typesetter in Philadelphia, establish himself as a river pilot on the Mississippi before the Civil War or strike it rich as a prospector in Nevada, Mark Twain would not have emerged as the pen name for humorous articles in newspapers out west or a stage name for comic lectures back east. The surprising, reputation-making successes of The Celebrated Jumping Frog and Innocents Abroad was later matched by the failures of his publishing and printing ventures and the deaths of two of his daughters and his wife. Although Mark Twain would always be viewed popularly as a humorist, Kaplan highlights Clemens's all-American skepticism and his late-developing progressive attitudes on race relations and imperialism. Kaplan's readable and sympathetic work celebrates Sam Clemens (and the inspiring minor personages in his life) over the celebrity figure of Mark Twain, even as he asserts their ultimate unity. (On sale Oct. 21)
The Singular Mark Twain
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  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Oct 21, 2003
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 768 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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