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Mark Twain's letters for 1874 and 1875 encompass one of his most productive and rewarding periods as author, husband and father, and man of property. He completed the writing of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, published the major collection Sketches, New and Old, became a leading contributor to the Atlantic Monthly, and turned The Gilded Age, the novel he had previously coauthored with Charles Dudley Warner, into one of the most popular comedies of the nineteenth-century American stage. His personal life also was gratifying, unmarred by the family tragedies that had darkened the earlier years of the decade. He and his wife welcomed a second healthy daughter and moved into the showplace home in Hartford, Connecticut, that they occupied happily for the next sixteen years. All of these accomplishments and events are vividly captured, in Mark Twain's inimitable language and with his unmatched humor, in letters to family and friends, among them some of the leading writers of the day. The comprehensive editorial annotation supplies the historical and social context that helps make these letters as fresh and immediate to a modern audience as they were to their original readers. This volume is the sixth in the only complete edition of Mark Twain's letters ever attempted. The 348 letters it contains, many of them never before published, have been meticulously transcribed, either from the original manuscripts (when extant) or from the most reliable sources now available. They have been thoroughly annotated and indexed and are supplemented by genealogical charts, contemporary notices of Mark Twain and his works, and photographs of him, his family, and his friends.
Here is young Sam Clemens—in the world, getting famous, making love—in 155 magnificently edited letters that trace his remarkable self-transformation from a footloose, irreverent West Coast journalist to a popular lecturer and author of The Jumping Frog, soon to be a national and international celebrity. And on the move he was—from San Francisco to New York, to St. Louis, and then to Paris, Naples, Rome, Athens, Constantinople, Yalta, and the Holy Land; back to New York and on to Washington; back to San Francisco and Virginia City; and on to lecturing in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York. Resplendent with wit, love of life, ambition, and literary craft, this new volume in the wonderful Bancroft Library edition of Mark Twain's Letters will delight and inform both scholars and general readers. This volume has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mark Twain Foundation, Jane Newhall, and The Friends of The Bancroft Library.
"Livy darling, it was flattering, at the Lord Mayor's dinner, tonight, to have the nation's honored favorite, the Lord High Chancellor of England, in his vast wig & gown, with a splendid, sword-bearing lackey, following him & holding up his train, walk me arm-in-arm through the brilliant assemblage, & welcome me with all the enthusiasm of a girl, & tell me that when affairs of state oppress him & he can't sleep, he always has my books at hand & forgets his perplexities in reading them!" (10 November 1872) On his first trip to England to gather material for a book and cement relations with his newly authorized English publishers, Samuel Clemens was astounded to find himself hailed everywhere as a literary lion. America's premier humorist had begun his long tenure as an international celebrity. Meanwhile, he was coming into his full power at home. The Innocents Abroad continued to produce impressive royalties and his new book, Roughing It, was enjoying great popularity. In newspaper columns he appeared regularly as public advocate and conscience, speaking on issues as disparate as safety at sea and political corruption. Clemens's personal life at this time was for the most part fulfilling, although saddened by the loss of his nineteen-month-old son, Langdon, who died of diphtheria. Life in the Nook Farm community of writers and progressive thinkers and activists was proving to be all the Clemenses had hoped for. The 309 letters in this volume, more than half of them never before published, capture the events of these years with detailed intimacy. Thoroughly annotated and indexed, they are supplemented by genealogical charts of the Clemens and Langdon families, a transcription of the journals Clemens kept during his 1872 visit to England, book contracts, his preface to the English edition of The Gilded Age, contemporary photographs of family and friends, and a gathering of all newly discovered letters written between 1865 and 1871. This volume is the fifth in the only complete edition of Mark Twain's letters ever attempted, and the twenty-fourth in the comprehensive edition known as The Mark Twain Papers and Works of Mark Twain.
"You ought to see Livy & me, now-a-days—you never saw such a serenely satisfied couple of doves in all your life. I spent Jan 1, 2, 3 & 5 there, & left at 8 last night. With my vile temper & variable moods, it seems an incomprehensible miracle that we two have been right together in the same house half the time for a year & a half, & yet have never had a cross word, or a lover's 'tiff,' or a pouting spell, or a misunderstanding, or the faintest shadow of a jealous suspicion. Now isn't that absolutely wonderful? Could I have had such an experience with any other girl on earth? I am perfectly certain I could not. . . . We are to be married on Feb. 2d." So begins Volume 4 of the letters, with Samuel Clemens anticipating his wedding to Olivia L. Langdon. The 338 letters in this volume document the first two years of a loving marriage that would last more than thirty years. They recount, in Clemens's own inimitable voice, a tumultuous time: a growing international fame, the birth of a sickly first child, and the near-fatal illness of his wife. At the beginning of 1870, fresh from the success of The Innocents Abroad, Clemens is on "the long agony" of a lecture tour and planning to settle in Buffalo as editor of the Express. By the end of 1871, he has moved to Hartford and is again on tour, anticipating the publication of Roughing It and the birth of his second child. The intervening letters show Clemens bursting with literary ideas, business schemes, and inventions, and they show him erupting with frustration, anger, and grief, but more often with dazzling humor and surprising self-revelation. In addition to Roughing It, Clemens wrote some enduringly popular short pieces during this period, but he saved some of his best writing for private letters, many of which are published here for the first time.
According to the foreword: "Nowhere is the human being more truly revealed than in his letters. Not in literary letters--prepared with care, and the thought of possible publication--but in those letters wrought out of the press of circumstances, and with no idea of print in mind. A collection of such documents, written by one whose life has become of interest to mankind at large, has a value quite aside from literature, in that it reflects in some degree at least the soul of the writer. The letters of Mark Twain are peculiarly of the revealing sort. He was a man of few restraints and of no affectations. In his correspondence, as in his talk, he spoke what was in his mind, untrammeled by literary conventions."

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