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book reviews

Mark Twain Today

On Oct. 19, 1865, the day after he finished the "Jumping Frog" story, Sam Clemens wrote to his brother and sister-in-law that he had at last found his vocation—"seriously scribbling to excite the laughter of God's creatures." Written across the top of the letter was an afterthought: "P.S. You had better shove this in the stove—for if we strike a bargain I don't want any absurd "literary remains" & "unpublished letters of Mark Twain" published after I am planted." In this lucid moment, just as he was approaching the age of 30, Mark Twain could see both where his heretofore miscellaneous career as typesetter-steamboat pilot-miner-reporter was apparently heading, and what the consequences of such a career might be.