The Mississippi River, known as “America’s River” and Mark Twain are practically synonymous in American culture. The popularity of Twain’s steamboat and steamboat pilot on the ever-changing Mississippi has endured for over a century.
A brilliant amalgam of remembrance and reportage, by turns satiric, celebratory, nostalgic, and melancholy, Life on the Mississippi evokes the great river that Mark Twain knew as a boy and young man and the one he revisited as a mature and successful author. Written between the publication of his two greatest novels, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Twain’s rich portrait of the Mississippi marks a distinctive transition in the life of the river and the nation, from the boom years preceding the Civil War to the sober times that followed it.
Samuel Clemens became a licensed river pilot at the age of twenty-four under the apprenticeship of Horace Bixby, pilot of the Paul Jones. His name, Mark Twain, was derived from the river pilot term describing safe navigating conditions, or “mark two fathoms.” This term was shortened to “mark twain” by the leadsmen whose job it was to monitor the water’s depth and report it to the pilot.
Although Mark Twain used his childhood experiences growing up along the Mississippi in numerous works, nowhere is the river and the pilot’s life more thoroughly described than in Life on the Mississippi.
MARK TWAIN (1835–1910) was born Samuel L. Clemens in the town of Florida, Missouri. One of the most popular and influential authors our nation has ever produced, his keen wit and incisive satire earned him praise from both critics and peers. He has been called not only the greatest humorist of his age but the father of American literature.
Public Domain (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Mark Twain was the first truly American writer, and all of us since are his heirs.” (William Faulkner)
“I believe that Mark Twain had a clearer vision of life…than any other American…I believe that he was the true father of our national literature, the first genuinely American artist of the royal blood.” (H. L. Mencken)
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Of the first fifteen chapters of the book, twelve are reprinted from “The Atlantic.” In the three introductory ones which precede these, the physical character of the river is sketched. The book was published in 1883. The book begins with a brief history of the river beginning with the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto then on the French Marquette and La Salle.
The most engrossing section describes the author’s education as a steamboat pilot. Vivid details and anecdotes link the story of life on the River. He tells of the odd habits of the steamboat pilots. There is a section on how to read the river including the conformation of the banks, sandbanks, islands and inlets as well as sudden cut outs of the river after storms.
The rest of the book is an account of Twain’s trip down the Mississippi decades later as an old man. He describes the changes in the river and of American during his lifetime. The book is hilarious, fascinating, meandering tour of the Mississippi River most of all the book is entertain. Grover Gardner does an excellent job narrating the book.
Sci-fi/Fantasy fan with a library-worth of reading behind him
Anyone considering this Daily Deal--there are two Kindle editions available, one for a dollar and one for free. Buy the free one, add the Whispersync narration for a dollar, and you get this $5 Daily Deal for $1 =)
(I'll get rid of this review tomorrow until after I have a chance to listen to the book)
Fantastic read, the best narrator yet!! Rates as high as Huck Finn narrated by Elijah Wood and Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume one.
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