Mark Twain's Helpful Hints for Good Living: A Handbook for the Damned Human Race

Mark Twain's Helpful Hints for Good Living: A Handbook for the Damned Human Race

Mark Twain's Helpful Hints for Good Living: A Handbook for the Damned Human Race

Mark Twain's Helpful Hints for Good Living: A Handbook for the Damned Human Race

Synopsis

Irreverent, charming, eminently quotable, this handbook--an eccentric etiquette guide for the human race--contains sixty-nine aphorisms, anecdotes, whimsical suggestions, maxims, and cautionary tales from Mark Twain's private and published writings. It dispenses advice and reflections on family life and public manners; opinions on topics such as dress, health, food, and childrearing and safety; and more specialized tips, such as those for dealing with annoying salesmen and burglars. Culled from Twain's personal letters, autobiographical writings, speeches, novels, and sketches, these pieces are delightfully fresh, witty, startlingly relevant, and bursting with Twain's characteristic ebullience for life. They also remind us exactly how Mark Twain came to be the most distinctive and well-known American literary voice in the world. These texts, some of them new or out of print for decades, have been selected and meticulously prepared by the editors at the Mark Twain Project.

Excerpt

In October 1865, just shy of his thirtieth birthday, samuel langhorne Clemens found himself scraping along in San Francisco, having attempted and abandoned a succession of careers: journeyman printer, Mississippi River steamboat pilot, miner, stock speculator, journalist. His fortunes and his spirits had been at lowest ebb but were now—after some bitter soul-searching— beginning to rebound. He wrote to his brother on 19 October:

I never had but two powerful ambitions in my life. One was to be a pilot,
& the other a preacher of the gospel. I accomplished the one & failed in the
other, because I could not supply myself with the necessary stock in trade—
i.e. religion…. But I have had a “call” to literature, of a low order—i.e.
humorous. It is nothing to be proud of, but it is my strongest suit.

He vowed to concentrate his attention on “seriously scribbling to excite the laughter of God’s creatures.” and within four years Clemens—otherwise “Mark Twain,” the pseudonym he had adopted in 1863—had transcended his local fame as an irreverent, sometimes controversial, journalist and author of occasional humorous sketches, known on the West Coast as “the Moralist of the Main.”

With a commission to write for the San Francisco Alta California, he traveled to Europe and the Holy Land—the wild card in an organized tour of wealthy, pious Americans. the fresh and amusing travel letters of the ram-

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