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No. 44, the Mysterious Stranger (Mark Twain Library) Paperback – 21 Apr 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 3rd Revised edition edition (21 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780520270008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520270008
  • ASIN: 0520270002
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,618,298 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By D. C. Wilks - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is literally the last work of fiction by Mr. Twain. Those familiar with his short stories will remember a similarly titled 60+ page story in which the devil makes an interesting visit to a small Austrian village during the dark ages. This novel, while sharing some commonalities with the latter, is essentially its own animal, though not quite as darkly pessimistic. It is a good quick read-something you'll want to read twice in order to fully appreciate. It is very funny at times, at others somewhat predictable, but always entertaining and imaginative. It is remarkable how much insight Twain had into the modern world and its connection to history. Highly recommended.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Twain anticipates Crane in Mysterious Stranger 20 July 1998
By - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Aside from Twain's depiction of God as a malevolent and mischevious deity, the story illustrates Twain's pessimistic view of Christianity in general. There is much vitriol spilled - toward God - at the end of the work. Certainly the death of Twain's daughter had much to do with excentuating this antagonism towards God and religion. Mysterious Stranger, especially the chilling conclusion, is a disturbing tale - as Twain no doubt intended it to be. A worthwhile read but be prepared to have your religious moorings and faith shaken.
47 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Beware!! No.44 and The Mysterious Stranger are not the same 23 July 2001
By J. G. Pavlovich - Published on
Format: Paperback
There is much confusion regarding the several editions of The Mysterious Stranger. This volume from the Mark Twain Library is titled "No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger". It is NOT No. 44 in the series as often listed. More importantly it is NOT the same as the story titled "The Mysterious Stranger" to which most of the reviews refer. This story, only published as part of The Mark Twain Library, is a later manuscript utilizing some of the same themes and characters from the better known story, but otherwise very different. Neither story was published in Twain's lifetime. Following Twain's death his literary executor, A. B. Paine, selected one of three stories written on similar themes, and published it as "The Mysterious Stranger" following some changes and editing including adding an ending which was apparently written for another version. While Paine's changes were controversial, his decision as to which manuscript was worth publishing was certainly correct.

The publishers of The Mark Twain Library series would have us believe that "No. 44" was Twain's own preferred version based primarily on chronology. Twain, however, had a habit of suppressing his own work -- particularly some of his most biting satires (See DeVoto's edition of Twain's "Letters from the Earth.") believing it, perhaps, too controversial for its time.

The story of the evolution of "The Mysterious Stranger" and all three manuscripts as Twain left them can be found in William Gibson's "Mark Twain's Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts."

This story, "No. 44," is a pleasant enough boy's adventure along the Tom Sawyer line, but -- being an unfinished manuscript and having never seen the hand of a good editor-- it rambles around and takes wild unexplained changes in tone and storyline and never really leads anywhere. The grand dark satire of the better known story is missing, or, at best, severely watered down in this version. To add insult to injury, the television film of "The Mysterious Stranger" was based on "no. 44".

I originally wrote this review for a previous edition of "No. 44", but I see that it has been appended to all editions of "The Mysterious Stranger". So let me be clear: I am referring to The Mark Twain Library edition which is entitled "No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger".

"The Mysterious Stranger" is a marvelous work. "No. 44" is a curiosity at best.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Realism or Heresy? 27 Jun. 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I hadn't realized what a thoughtful and unusual man Mark Twain was until I read this book. This is a beautifully written book that examines the questions that all thinking humans face concerning God, heaven, hell, etc. It's written with a story line, but that really is just a framework to explore some wonderful and terrible questions. This is a wonderfully painless way to read philosophy. It took a courageous man to write this and stray from the "accepted" philosophy. In this time when so many are required to prove how "God-fearing" they are, this book shows that there always have been, and always will be, questions about religion that disturb
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This Version Closest to Twain 24 April 2007
By O. Elmore - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Mysterious Stranger published soon after Twain's death was an attempt at making a quick profit by rewriting some incomplete manuscript pages. On the other hand, THIS version -- No. 44 -- was painstakingly pieced together over the course of many years by Twain scholars. The result is a manuscript that is closer in tone and theme to Twain's other later work. I also believe No. 44 to be more fully coherent than the previous version.
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