Life on the Mississippi

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Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain is his journal about vital river life during the steamboat era and a melancholy remembrance of it after the Civil War. Mark Twain tells of his life on the river, humorous folktales, and a glimpse of Twain's life during his childhood years.

The Mississippi River was a major part of Mark Twain's life. The river In the three introductory ones which precede these, the physical character of the river is sketched, and brief reference is made to the early travelers and explorers of the stream, -- De Soto, Marquette, and La Salle; these latter belonging to the epoch of what Mr. Clemens quaintly calls "historical history," as distinguished from that other unconventional history, which he does not define, but certainly embodies in the most graphic form. There are some good touches in this opening portion; as where the author refers to "Louis XIV., of inflated memory," and, speaking of indifference which attended the discovery of the Mississippi, remarks, "Apparently, nobody happened to want such a river, nobody needed it, nobody was curious about it; so, for a century and a half, the Mississippi remained out of the market and undisturbed. When De Soto found it, he was not hunting for a river, and had no present occasion for one; consequently he did not value it, or even take any particular notice of it." We are also presented with a chapter from an unpublished work by the writer, detailing the adventures of a southwestern boy a quarter of a century ago, which places before us in vivid colors the rough, hilarious, swaggering, fighting, superstitious ways of the bygone raftsmen. Rude, sturdy, unflinching, and raw though the picture is, it is likely to stand a long while as a wonderful transcript from nature, and as a memorial of the phase of existence, which is describes that will not easily be surpassed in the future. The chapter on Racing Days is perhaps a little disappointing, although suggestive. Then there comes a short...
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