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The Life and Work of Mark Twain

Narrated by: Stephen Railton
Length: 12 hrs and 16 mins
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Summary

Samuel Clemens, the man known to history as Mark Twain, was more than one of America's greatest writers. He was our first true celebrity, one of the most photographed faces of the 19th and 20th centuries. This series of 24 lectures by an acclaimed teacher and scholar explores Twain's dual identities - as one of our classical authors and as an almost mythical presence in our nation's cultural life. The lectures are a gateway to both appreciating Twain's literary achievements and to understanding his life, highlighting seven of his major works - Innocents Abroad, Roughing It, "Old Times on the Mississippi," The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson - each replete with the issues that most interested and concerned Twain over the course of that life.

But you also learn that there are even deeper depths to explore. Although Twain may have died a widely beloved figure, he himself once wrote: "Everyone is a moon and has a dark side that he never shows to anybody."

Professor Railton shows you that in his private life, Samuel Clemens struggled with doubt, disappointment, despair, and an increasing misanthropy that was greater than any contained in his most sarcastic satires. Even his closest friends almost lost patience with his rantings on how to exterminate what he called "the damned human race."

Dr. Railton also explores in some detail the unpublished manuscripts, discovered after his death, that reveal this dark and despairing side of Mark Twain. They include such partly completed works as The Enchanted Sea Wilderness, The Great Dark, and Three Thousand Years Among the Microbes.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2002 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2002 The Great Courses

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    4 out of 5 stars

outfit solala but content remarkable

speaking style is not good but the content is saving the show; very comprehensive but performance could be much better.
The analysis should be extended to other group like the outlaw Indiana Jones, Mr. Potter or the role of the women generally in Mark Twain stories e.g. in Tom Sawyer etc.
Here we heart almost nothing about it and is this truly then a picture of the American society? And also the erotic is not an issue at all?

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Profile Image for Scott Poelman
  • Scott Poelman
  • 24-10-17

Masterful

Masterful, comprehensive, interesting, balanced, and smart. Very well done. When I finished listening, I wanted more.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Gjemm
  • Gjemm
  • 28-04-16

narrator's stilted style ruins it

Narrator seems to be reading off the page as if from the first time. almost seems like he's losing his pace sometimes. a very difficult listen

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for AJC
  • AJC
  • 08-10-19

WHAT DRIVES A GREAT MAN

This Audible offering from The Great Courses gives a great overview of some of the life and much of the works of Mark Twain. Professor Stephen Railton, the narrator takes the listener down the river of life of one of America's great novelists and essayists, Samuel L. Clemens, more popularly known as Mark Twain. Stephen Railton's discourse on the meaning of some of Twain's work is very enlightening and helps the listener see that what one reads of Twain is really autobiographical and it is an insight into Twain's psyche. Each chapter is presented with a clarity that makes it interesting and understandable. My only negative is that there was not enough biographical information provided about those closest to Twain, his family, especially his wife and children. If you are a fan of Mark Twain I can recommend this Audible offering.

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Profile Image for Debra Chilcott
  • Debra Chilcott
  • 14-04-18

A consummate tribute

A consummate and loving tribute to the Belle of New York, the Belle of the America, disguised as a lecture. Required listening for all fans of Mark Twain! Thank you, Professor Railton, for bringing Mark Twain even closer.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Russell Bernard
  • Russell Bernard
  • 06-08-14

Wonderful you to should listen


First Review

It was very informative to learn about Mark Twain. I have started to listen to Innocents Abroad. Great refresher and I learned many things that were new to me. Look forward to many more great courses lectures.

Second Review
Now that i have listened to the following books by Mark Twain this course becomes more valuable
I have listened to so far

Tom sawyer
Huckleberry Finn
Puddnhead Wilson
Prince and the Pauper
Roughing it
Life on the Mississippi
Innocents Abroad

I find that this course fills in the gaps

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Dr. Christina Johns
  • Dr. Christina Johns
  • 19-07-15

Annoying

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Eliminating the introduction in the beginning and the applause after each segment. This is unnecessary and really annoying.

Has The Life and Work of Mark Twain turned you off from other books in this genre?

I would like to listen to the material without the interruptions.

Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Stephen Railton’s performances?

Not unless you delete the interruptions.

Any additional comments?

I really like the great courses and the material, I just hate the interruptions.

3 people found this helpful