The Unabridged Mark Twain. Running Press 1976. Abandoned on 7th Avenue. Recovered to my delight on a bright Saturday morning. The book contains 22 Mark Twain tales and exists a perfect match to my Complete Short Stories volume.
Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors. In his full-length stories he captures the heart of America, of the frontier, and especially of a boy. He makes you feel and remember the sense of adventure. Twain is well known for taking the unrefined manners of speech in the American wilds and elevating them to high literature. His characters are visceral in their words.
My second love of Twain, discovered as an adult, is his wonderful sense of humor. There are other works of his I would like to discuss, but for the humor, nothing is better than page 1 of this volume:
No weather will be found in this book. This is an attempt to pull a book through without weather. It being the first attempt of the kind in fictitious literature, it may prove a failure, but it seemed worth while of some dare-devil person to try it, and the author was in just the mood.
Many a reader who wanted to read a tale through was not able to do it because of delays on account of the weather. Nothing breaks up an author’s progress like having to stop every few pages to fuss-up the weather. Thus it is plain that persistent intrusions of weather are bad for both reader and author.
Of course weather is necessary to a narrative of human experience. That is conceded. But it ought to be put where it will not be in the way; where it will not interrupt the flow of the narrative. And it ought to be the ablest weather that can be had, not ignorant, poor-quality, amateur weather. Weather is a literary specialty, and no untrained hand can turn out a good article of it. The present author can do only a few trifling ordinary kinds of weather, and he cannot do those very good. So it has seemed wisest to borrow such weather as is necessary for the book from qualified and recognized experts – giving credit, of course. This weather will be found over in the back part of the book, out of the way. See Appendix. The reader is requested to turn over and help himself from time to time as he goes along. – Mark Twain