Mark Twain's writing has been wildly popular ever since he put pen to paper, and now its popularity has continued into the new century.
Mark Twain was well known as a great American short-story writer as well as a novelist and humorist. This collection of eighteen of his best short stories, the well known and the lesser known, displays his best-known side, as a master of Western humor and frontier realism, with little of the pessimism that surfaced in his later works.
Beginning the collection is "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog," which was Twain's first successful story, published in 1865 in the New York Saturday Press. This comic version of an old folk tale became the title story of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches, published in 1867, which was what established him as a leading American humorist.
Twain's most distinctive work sums up the tradition of Western humor and frontier realism. Beginning as a journalist, he assumed the method and point of view of popular literature in the U.S., maintaining the personal anecdotal style that he also used in his comic lectures.
These stories display Twain's place in American letters as a master writer in the authentic native idiom. He was exuberant and irreverent, but underlying the humor was a vigorous desire for social justice and a pervasive equalitarian attitude.
Mark Twain was a master of "pungent tall talk and picaresque adventure." (
The Concise Oxford Companion to American Literature)
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