Tag Archives: Mark Twain

Twain Spotting


I suppose it is stating the obvious to say that the modern American novel was birthed along the Mississippi by Mark Twain and then — after some dashes of Stendhal and Tolstoi and the other major Russians were mixed in — brought to successful adulthood by another nobody from what we now consider fly-over country, Ernest Hemingway.  I also suppose the preceding, commonplace assertion will stir foment in the Webosphere among the adherents of Faulkner and Fitzgerald and Bellow and Updike and God knows what other 20th century American writer people will come up with as more seminal to the novel than Hemingway. And that’s fine by me; I have lots of favorite writers. But I do think this essay on the recently released piece of Twain’s “autobiography” in the London Review of Books is remarkably evocative of Twain and the best evaluation/explication of the work I’ve read. In makes one want to head over to the mother of rivers, even or especially during these high-water times, just to watch the water roll by. It also makes one want to dig around in the book boxes to find that copy of Huckleberry Finn and begin one’s seventh or 10th rereading of that masterstroke. During the digging, if one were to see the Nick Adams stories poking up from the stack, one might grab it, too. There is a connection there, as powerful as a river cresting.

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Filed under Ernest Hemingway, literature, London Review of Books, Mark Twain