Let us begin with the West
, and with that joyous stage-coach journey of young Samuel L. Clemens
across the plains to Nevada
in 1861, which he describes in Roughing it
Who was this Argonaut of the new era, and what makes him representative of his countrymen in the epoch of release?
Born in Missouri
in 1835, the son of an impractical emigrant from Virginia
, the youth had lived from his fourth until his eighteenth year on the banks of the Mississippi
He had learned the printer's trade, had wandered east and back again, had served for four years as a river-pilot on the Mississippi
, and had tried to enter the Confederate army.
Then came the six crowded years, chiefly as newspaper reporter, in the boom times of Nevada
His fame began with the publication in New York in 1867 of The celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
A newspaper now sent him to Europe
to record “what he sees with his own eyes.”
He did so in Innocents abroad
, and his countrymen shouted with laughter.
This, then, was “Europe
” after all-another “fake” until this shrewd river-pilot who signed himself “Mark Twain
” took its soundings!
Then came a series of far greater books-Roughing it
, Life on the Mississippi
, The Gilded age