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The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Work

About the Author

Shelley Fisher Fishkin

Shelley Fisher Fishkin's principal concern throughout her career has been literature and social justice. Much of her work has focused on issues of race and racism in America, and on recovering and interpreting voices that were silenced, marginalized, or ignored in America's past. 

Her broad, interdisciplinary research interests have led her to focus on topics including the challenge of doing transnational American Studies; the place of humor and satire in movements for social change; the role literature can play in the fight against racism; the influence of African American voices on canonical American literature; the need to desegregate American literary...

Library of America

The Mark Twain Anthology brings together the words of over 60 writers, from his earliest reviewers to today, probing the many facets of Mark Twain: his incomparable humor, his revolutionary use of vernacular language, his exploration of the realities of American life, his irreverence and skepticism, his profound grappling with issues of race, his fearless opposition to the injustices and outrages of an imperialistic age. The range of voices is extraordinarily diverse, a tribute to the diversity and complexity of Twain’s art. During his lifetime Twain was reviewed, interviewed, and assessed by writers as different as Lafcadio Hearn, José Martí, Rudyard Kipling, and George Bernard Shaw. They were joined, in the century that followed, by G. K. Chesterton, H. L. Mencken, Jorge Luis Borges, Theodore Dreiser, George Orwell, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, Ralph Ellison, and many others, with recent commentary by David Bradley, Erica Jong, Toni Morrison, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Dick Gregory, Min Jin Lee, and Roy Blount Jr.

Of special interest is Twain’s international impact. The Mark Twain Anthology presents a broad selection of responses to Twain from Europe, Asia, and Latin America, many of the pieces translated for the first time. The book also includes a selection of visual tributes to Twain (by artists ranging from James Montgomery Flagg to Jean Cocteau to Chuck Jones) and a sampler of shorter comments by individuals as varied as Friedrich Nietzsche, Harry S. Truman, Richard Pryor, Gertrude Stein, and Charles Darwin.