MARK TWAIN AT LARGE by Arthur L. Scott


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In conjuring up a Twain image, most Americans are apt to slosh happily in a sunny Mississippi of Hucks and Toms, to accept uncritically the supremely skilled Hal Holbrook portrait of a generally benign philosopher-humorist, American as a riverboat. However, after the age of thirty-one, Mark Twain was primarily an ""Eastern"" man who spent one-third of his life abroad. Mr. Scott has traced Twain's joyous, irascible, anguished, tempestuous travels as reflected in the travel books and other works influenced by his life abroad. In spirit Twain was something of a Jamesian American--impressionable, equalitarian, provincial. Yet he tempered some of his fiercer pronouncements to what the American traffic would bear. Fatigue, family tragedies and a growing sophistication quieted his initial boisterous perspective; he could shift from rage to affection for both aristocracy and commoners wherever he sensed corruption, cruelty, absurdity in human behavior. The English, the Germans, the Italians, Indians, Boers all had their Twainian moments of eminence and their falls from grace. But never a kind word for the French. Twain's comments on world vistas from art to governments were not consistent or even fair at times but ""never did he waver from his search for those things which were best for the ordinary man."" Mr. Scott has given Twain's voyaging prose careful chronological attention. Worthy, if somewhat of a campus corral. A brief study to complement the works and biographies.

Pub Date: April 11th, 1969
Publisher: Regnery