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In 1949 Dixon Wecter edited The Love Letters of Mark Twain. Now he turns back Mark Twain in his boyhood years for a loving appraisment of the sources of his writ in his own youth. Of Twain he says:- ""All his days he wrote fiction under the cloak autobiography, and autobiography with the trappings of fiction"". Twain idealized his early years- the town of Hannibal where he grew up- the people he knew. But all of it is grist to the mill of a fertile imagination, from the boyhood classics, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, to the Autobiography and Life in the Mississippi (a later period than covered in this book), with Joan of Arc, The Prince and the Paufer, The Connecticut Yankee, The Mysterious Stranger having roots in boyhood enthusiasms, concern over the mediaeval period, symbolisms that are -- according to wecter- readily identified. This account of his progenitors; the characteristics and influences that come to the fore in Mark Twain, the man; the insecurity and poverty that left their scars, in points of view rather than personality; the incidents and embroidered anecdotes, the school days and holidays, the playmates and neighbors -- all come under the biographer's microscope. In tapping new sources, he has found points of variance with the accepted biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine -- and some of his material may challenge other authorities. He carries the story through his initiation into journalism and writing, his sophomoric efforts in the direction of with and jokes and mock heroics- and his decision to leave Hannibal and seek his fortune in a wider world. A method of handling biographical material that depends on familiarity with Mark Twain's writings.

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1952
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin