Following the Equator (A Journey around the World) – Mark Twain
A happy and interesting jumble is this book of Mark Twain’s. It is like a lucky-bag at a fair. In his zigzag journey around the world, the humorist has made a collection of odds and ends of fun, philosophy, and fantastic description, such as has never been gathered in the pages of a single book, and any one dipping in at random is sure of a prize. The heterogeneous mass has some pretense of being loosely strung together, but it is on a line as long as the Equator itself. It is a traveler’s miscellany — a globe-trotter’s hotch-potch — a sociologist’s cabinet of specimens, all bearing the quaint labelings of the creator of Pudd’nhead Wilson. Here is a rare bit of humor surreptitiously picked up in a New Zealand drawing-room; there a sample fragment of a life-tragedy which the trophy-hunter knocked off Molokai. This division of the cabinet contains an incident from the stage-door of a New York theater; that, next to it, a unique string of anecdotes of tiger-hunting in Baroda. And according to the labels, many of the specimens were picked up in very unexpected places; as for instance, the yarn about Barnum which the collector found in Delagoa bay. But wherever found, or however incongruously grouped, this cabinet of odds and ends of life is one of the most interesting and unique collections ever made by a traveler.
Following the Equator (A Journey around the World).
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Biography of Mark Twain (from Wikipedia):
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. Among his novels are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called „The Great American Novel“.
Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He served an apprenticeship with a printer and then worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. His humorous story, „The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County“, was published in 1865, based on a story that he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention and was even translated into French. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, but he invested in ventures that lost most of it—notably the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter that failed because of its complexity and imprecision. He filed for bankruptcy in the wake of these financial setbacks, but he eventually overcame his financial troubles with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers. He chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, even after he had no legal responsibility to do so.
Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would „go out with it“ as well; he died the day after the comet returned. He was lauded as the „greatest humorist this country has produced“, and William Faulkner called him „the father of American literature“.
(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)
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