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Life on the Mississippi (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

Mark Twain
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 May 2012 Wordsworth Classics

This Wordsworth Edition includes an exclusive Introduction by Petr Barta, University of Kent

An invaluable companion to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi is Mark Twain's inimitable portrait of ‘the great Father of Waters’. Part memoir, part travelogue, it expresses the full range of Twain's literary personality, and remains the most vivid, boisterous and provocative account of the cultural and societal history of the Mississippi Valley, from ‘the golden age’ of steamboating to the violence wrought by the Civil War.

This new edition of Life on the Mississippi contains a comprehensive introduction, extensive annotations and a guide to further reading designed to appeal to both the student and the general reader.


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Life on the Mississippi (Wordsworth Classics) + Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (Wordsworth Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd.; Wordsworth Classics edition (5 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840226838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840226836
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Twain is the pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 - 1910). He was born and brought up in the American state of Missouri and, because of his father's death, he left school to earn his living when he was only twelve. He was a great adventurer and travelled round America as a printer; prospected for gold and set off for South America to earn his fortune. He returned to become a steam-boat pilot on the Mississippi River, close to where he had grown up. The Civil War put an end to steam-boating and Clemens briefly joined the Confederate army - although the rest of his family were Unionists! He had already tried his hand at newspaper reporting and now became a successful journalist. He started to use the alias Mark Twain during the Civil War and it was under this pen name that he became a famous travel writer. He took the name from his steam-boat days - it was the river pilots' cry to let their men know that the water was two fathoms deep.

Mark Twain was always nostalgic about his childhood and in 1876 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published, based on his own experiences. The book was soon recognised as a work of genius and eight years later the sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was published. The great writer Ernest Hemingway claimed that 'All modern literature stems from this one book.'

Mark Twain was soon famous all over the world. He made a fortune from writing and lost it on a typesetter he invented. He then made another fortune and lost it on a bad investment. He was an impulsive, hot-tempered man but was also quite sentimental and superstitious. He was born when Halley's Comet was passing the Earth and always believed he would die when it returned - this is exactly what happened.


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mighty river 1 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is written in Mark Twain's illimitable and distinctive style and is packed with anecdotes and facts about the river, both at the time he was writing and previously.

It is a fascinating portrait of life on a steamboat and of the River itself at that time and since Mark Twain had been a licensed pilot on the Mississippi, it is a book written by someone who knows his subject. (His pen-name of Mark Twain was taken from the leadsman's calling out the depth of 'two fathoms').

The passages about his apprenticeship when learning his trade as a river pilot are among the most fascinating, but the many historical facts which he also incorporates into the book also make extremely interesting reading.

The river is several thousand miles long, and when the young Mark Twain said to his instructor, the senior pilot Horace Bixby, "but surely you don't expect me to know ALL the landmarks all along the river?", his mentor replied, "Son, I don't EXPECT you to know them, you MUST know them". For at that time and without any modern technical aids, or even electricity for nighttime travel, navigation of the river could prove extremely dangerous.

One of the many fascinating facts about this river was its habit of continually changing course, or "cutting through" a bend - sometimes marooning a former riverside town several miles inland, and even putting it into another state or county entirely.

The author describes the river as being 4000 miles long. But the Internet gives a number of answers as to length, varying from 3,710 miles long to 2,550 miles - quite a difference!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books of all time 3 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If someone you knew needed educating and they were only capable of reading 20 books in their lifetime...This would be one of them...Its not as good as "Of mice and men"..." The Alchemist".."The Richest man in babylon" or "How to win friends and influence people"...but ..its the next best!
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