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Mark Twain (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
I've been reading "Roughing It," by Mark Twain, a long book about his time as a young man when he traveled with his brother to the West Coast. I really like it, barring his liberal use of racial epithets. Go here for the complete text: http://www.mtwain.com/Roughing_It/.

Anyone else read any Twain? Read anything not required for a Lit class? Read something other than Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn?

Here's a quote about San Francisco; having lived in the Bay Area for 23 years, from 1975-1998, I verify the veracity.

"The climate of San Francisco is mild and singularly equable. The
thermometer stands at about seventy degrees the year round. It hardly
changes at all. You sleep under one or two light blankets Summer and
Winter, and never use a mosquito bar. Nobody ever wears Summer clothing.
You wear black broadcloth--if you have it--in August and January, just
the same. It is no colder, and no warmer, in the one month than the
other. You do not use overcoats and you do not use fans. It is as
pleasant a climate as could well be contrived, take it all around, and is
doubtless the most unvarying in the whole world. The wind blows there a
good deal in the summer months, but then you can go over to Oakland, if
you choose--three or four miles away--it does not blow there. It has
only snowed twice in San Francisco in nineteen years, and then it only
remained on the ground long enough to astonish the children, and set them
to wondering what the feathery stuff was.

During eight months of the year, straight along, the skies are bright and
cloudless, and never a drop of rain falls. But when the other four
months come along, you will need to go and steal an umbrella. Because
you will require it. Not just one day, but one hundred and twenty days
in hardly varying succession. When you want to go visiting, or attend
church, or the theatre, you never look up at the clouds to see whether it
is likely to rain or not--you look at the almanac. If it is Winter, it
will rain--and if it is Summer, it won't rain, and you cannot help it.
You never need a lightning-rod, because it never thunders and it never
lightens. And after you have listened for six or eight weeks, every
night, to the dismal monotony of those quiet rains, you will wish in your
heart the thunder would leap and crash and roar along those drowsy skies
once, and make everything alive--you will wish the prisoned lightnings
would cleave the dull firmament asunder and light it with a blinding
glare for one little instant. You would give anything to hear the old
familiar thunder again and see the lightning strike somebody. And along
in the Summer, when you have suffered about four months of lustrous,
pitiless sunshine, you are ready to go down on your knees and plead for
rain--hail--snow--thunder and lightning--anything to break the monotony--
you will take an earthquake, if you cannot do any better. And the
chances are that you'll get it, too. "

Beatrice Boyle

Senior Member
Mark Twain was the foremost chronicler of his day...sometimes elevating the most inane subjects, to extreme importance via his keen observations of the human conditiion.

His laid back manner of speaking and writing, belied a sharp, extremely intelligent raconteur.
As for the racial references...he was mirroring the attitudes that existed at that time. I would wager...if he were alive today...he would be a fierce proponent of civil rights!


Senior Member
Hey barnstrum, I've heard other people say the weather in San Fran is very unique.

I started reading Roughing It online twice now, but after five minutes my cortex starts to twitch and tingle. I'm trying to find a copy in a second hand bookstore or even B&N. I mangle books when I read them; also not a big fan of hardback. What you posted and what I could siphon off the site were enough to make me want to read it.

I'm a Twain fan also. He has some of the best quotes ever.


Senior Member
I must confess, though I don't like to, that I've never read anything other than Tom and Huck... :p

But I still love Twain.


Senior Member
Found a copy of Roughing It at a 2nd hand bookstore and am about 100 pages in. It's hilarious reading, with a good bit detail, and enough reality to keep a reader in the journey.

I don't remember Tom or Huck being this funny, but it's been forever since I read them.

I have to throw out this paragraph because I laughed so hard:

From Roughing It

I had the will to do it. With the gushing self-sufficiency of youth I
was feverish to plunge in headlong and achieve a great reform here--until
I saw the Mormon women. Then I was touched. My heart was wiser than my
head. It warmed toward these poor, ungainly and pathetically "homely"
creatures, and as I turned to hide the generous moisture in my eyes, I
said, "No--the man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian
charity which entitles him to the kindly applause of mankind, not their
harsh censure--and the man that marries sixty of them has done a deed of
open-handed generosity so sublime that the nations should stand
uncovered in his presence and worship in silence."

The Evincar

Senior Member
Has anyone read "The Mysterious Stranger"? It's the most bizarre book Twain ever wrote, a mixture of sci-fi fantasy, Buddhist-like philosophy and a scathing indictment of the hypocrisy of organized religion. His conclusion was that life is merely a dream and we should learn to dream better dreams than we have so far.
My favorite Twain story actually, I really loved it, loved the depiction of the angel, and the dark wit within...It's actually a basis for a character from a favorite show of mine (Kaworu from the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion)

"It is true, that which I have revealed to you; there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream- a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought- a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities!"

Great stuff. :D


Actually, I'm more of a Prince and the Pauper fan. I dont know what it is, but ever since I read it at the ripe old age of 10, I've loved it. I have also read Tom Sawyer/ Huck Finn (one for fun, the other for school). Roughing It, however, sounds more interesting. I think I might have to go find a copy myself. Mark Twain is one of my favorite classic writers.