DEAR MARK TWAIN

LETTERS FROM HIS READERS

Well-selected, thoroughly researched and thoughtfully annotated—a surprising, welcome addition to the apparently endless...

Just when we thought there was nothing else to learn about Twain, another facet of that literary jewel appears.

Well-known Twain scholar Rasmussen (Critical Companion to Mark Twain, 2007, etc.) has selected 200 letters from among the many thousands Twain's fans and foes wrote to Twain during his career. Even more impressive is the fact that the editor has researched the lives of the correspondents, relying heavily on online sources like Ancestry.com and Findagrave.com to help him supply information about the writers—a number of whom, often autograph hounds, were not who they claimed to be. Twain seemed to have a keen nose for smelling the bogus and often noted his distrust and/or disdain on the letter before filing it. The letters range from adoration to disgust, the latter occurring more during Twain’s later years when his writings darkened and he satirized his targets more savagely—especially religion and imperialism. It’s surprising how many writers sent Twain poems they had composed in his honor (not much is memorable), and many wanted to tell him stories—about their reactions to his books, their own childhood experiences and, later, how his works enriched their lives. Some wrote to console him on the losses of his wife and daughter. A few, hearing he was dying, wrote to tell him how much he’d meant to them. There are smaller moments, too. A boy collector wants some of Twain’s cigar bands. A little girl wants Twain to write about Tom Sawyer as an adult. Some folks want money; others want to meet him. Although most are common folks, Twain also heard from poet James Whitcomb Riley and former president Rutherford B. Hayes.

Well-selected, thoroughly researched and thoughtfully annotated—a surprising, welcome addition to the apparently endless Twain shelf.

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-520-26134-1

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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