So, speaking of Mark Twain, the exceptionally obsessive out there will recall that I plunked down nearly five bucks for the complete works of Mark Twain in Palm-compatible formats about a month ago. It’s a formidably huge amount of data, as I noted.
There’s something singularly delightful in the act of reading the material on the Palm – Twain once went bankrupt attempting to fund a typesetting device, and his fascination with the improbable faculties of technology mean I rather fancy that he’d probably own every Newton ever released as well as much more recent models of Palm than my own rather aged device. (The fan of the interweb as a device for the presentation of information may be well-advised to take a peek at that link – it’s the nicely put together companion site to the Ken Burns Twain bio from last year.)
On the other hand, the lack of non-integral reference matter – such as original publication dates for the books, front and end matter situating the work in the author’s career, drawings, maps, that sort of thing – somewhat undercuts the success of the format, as I have to rely on my sketchy recollections of the facts of Twain’s life to figure out when a work was written, for example.
I have also finished “The Mysterious Stranger,” famed as Twain’s darkest work, full of rage at God for the injustice of the universe.
Interestingly, there’s controversy about the authorship of the work.
I’ve just begun “Roughing It” (Twain’s account of his journey to the West and subsequent life there) and will certainly move on to read “The Innocents Abroad” as well shortly; I intend to Google about to learn of other Twain travelogues and read that whole subset before reading the stuff we’ve all read as kids.
Beyond that, “The Mysterious Stranger,” was, to my taste, quite hilarious. It certainly does reflect a world-view that is traditionally tut-tutted over. Yet, it’s roughly my world-view, although Twain’s deist rage is something I lack, not holding the tenets required for directed anger at a supernatural being.
I’ve heard that “Letters from the Earth” is another black-humor book, but I was unable to raise it via the project gutenberg search engine. I don’t know if it is in the material I have for the Palm, which I think is entirely derived from the Gutenberg stuff. Apparently not published until 1962, I’d guess that explains its’ absence from gutenberg.
Amusingly, I still retain a Twain postcard from a childhood visit to Sam Clemens’ hometown of Hannibal, Mizzoo.
Reading “A Tramp” was interesting also at least partly because a substantial portion of the work describes travels in or near the Swiss Alps, from the vicinity of Zermatt to the other side of Lake Geneva, near Mont Blanc (which is in France, but Twain was untroubled by this details). As a teenager, I lived in Lausanne, directly across the Lake from the primary French port on the lake for access to the mountain, and so these portions of the book cover Twain’s travels to locations I too recall.