How Extravagant! My Christmas Present to Myself! Everything My Hero Ever Wrote!

[an “aside” in a stage whisper:]

“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”–Erasmus, 1469-1536

Mark Twain is the funniest, most original, wholly American literary genius this country has ever produced.

He took ordinary common speech, our quintessential low-brow grammatically mangled vernacular blather and blab, and transformed it into literary masterpieces, one after another.  A journalist, travel writer, public speaker, newspaper man, a gold miner in the Gold Rush of ’49, Twain participated fully in every major event or phenomenon of his day. Loved by all, laughter and grins followed him everywhere he went. He skewered and critiqued our pretences, pomposities and folderall with such stiletto precision and skill, that he angered no one as he did it but made us instead laugh at ourselves without feeling diminished by it, but rather lifted up and proud to be an American, decent, hardworking, optimistic, however uncouth!

It was a great time to be alive.  The country was coming into its own, our western frontier and natural resources seemed infinite. We gloried in the breath-taking, unspoiled beauty of the land and what appeared to be the brightest future any nation on earth had yet embraced.

twain mark-twain-mark-twain-9192207-1109-1377

The Complete Mark Twain Library
(7 volumes, plus a FREE book!)

from the Library of America, the final, definitive, flawless texts

edited by the best Twain scholars on the planet!

16 full-length works • over 270 tales, sketches, speeches, and essays • more than 7,300 pages
List price: $270.00
Your price:
ONLY $195.00 (I paid $150, though. cuz I’m a critic and a member of the National Book Critics Circle!)

Free shipping in the U.S.!

SAVE $75
on the seven-book set!
This Library of America edition includes all of Mark Twain’s major works in seven clothbound volumes:

Mississippi Writings | 1,126 pages
Tom Sawyer • Life on the Mississippi • Huckleberry Finn • Pudd’nhead Wilson

Historical Romances | 1,031 pages
The Prince and the Pauper • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court • Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

The Innocents Abroad & Roughing It | 1,027 pages

A Tramp Abroad, Following the Equator, Other Travels | 1,145 pages

The Gilded Age & Later Novels | 1,053 pages
The Gilded Age • The American Claimant • Tom Sawyer Abroad • Tom Sawyer, Detective • No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger

Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays 1852–1890 | 1,076 pages

Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays 1891–1910 | 1,050 pages

Also, FREE with your set ($35 in bookstores!):
The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Works | 492 pages

A century and a half of the best writing about America’s quintessential writer.

“Both familiar classics and forgotten treasures”

—Christian Science Monitor

About Margaret Jean Langstaff

A lifelong critical reader with literary tastes, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, book critic, and professional book editor for many years. A consultant to publishers and authors, providing manuscript critiques and a full range of editorial services. A friend and supporter of all other readers and writers. A collector of signed modern first editions. Animal lover and tree hugger. Follow me on Twitter @LangstaffEditor
This entry was posted in American Literature, Humor, Literary Classics, Literary Lions, Literature and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to How Extravagant! My Christmas Present to Myself! Everything My Hero Ever Wrote!

  1. Jnana Hodson says:

    “Tom Sawyer” was a delight to read as a second-grader and spoke directly to me as a Midwestern kid. And then there was “Huckleberry Finn,” which was a lot easier to read as a third-grader than as a high-school junior. For the record, my mother grew up not far from Hannibal, Missouri, so we did visit the scene of the crime, as it were.
    More recently, a visit to the author’s home in Hartford, Connecticut, was quite a revelation. The examples of his social awkwardness comfort this author, too! And I love the fact that one of Samuel Clemen’s friends there was the Rev. Joseph Twichell, father of composer Charles Ives’ wife, Melody. Consider the way Ives was called our Mark Twain of music, for one thing.
    So here’s wishing a most joyful reading orgy! Think you’ll be through it by Christmas?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read and re-read it all year long. I have other editions. Even though I know the story lines and all the punch lines, he never fails to convulse me with laughter or slay me with his rapier wit. I actually re-read Huck Finn every spring whe I get my annual urge to “light out for the territory!” I’ve been known to call friends late at night to read passages I’m just dying to SHARE! Few know Twain as I do and most are slow to get the guffaws because I myself am laughing so hard they can’t understand me! Even fewer appreciate being disturbed after midnight for a Twainian tickle they don’t understand. Haha! You are so very lucky to have been to Hannibal and Hartford. You know, that man had such gumption and a smart alecky talent, he could demolish the Queen of England and she’d laugh herself sick and thank him. So funny. Inexpressible. A riverboat captain

      I’m so tempted to share some of his stuff in the public domain here. That’s the thing about the man, you just want to share him, the astonishing wit and dead on rendering of every variety of American in all of his or her foibles and follies! He nailed ’em better than anyone ever did. THANKS for your great comment and PLEASE comeback and yak some more!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. dgkaye says:

    Now that is what I call a magnificent Christmas present. How wonderful to have that beautiful collection to rest on your own bookshelf. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, they are really physically fine and beautiful books. Sewn bindings, cloth over boards covers, gorgeous glossy black dust jackets that match and are a book designer’s dream of his magnum opus, red ribbon markers and printed on archival paper. The explanatory notes, introductions and so forth are thorough and by only the top flight recognized scholars and authorities on each major American author since the founding of the republic. If you watch for their regular sales, you can pick up these gems very inexpensively

      Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye says:

        Thanks so much for sharing the link Margaret. I’ll be keeping my eye out now. What better gifts to ourselves than a beautiful book collection. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, watch for their sales, subscribe to their newsletter. You can save a bundle on the best, most beautifully produced classic American authors if you do. And they are always having sales. Thing about LOA that I love: you know they’re not pigs in a poke, you know they are certifiably great and have met the test of time that is the acid test for what is and is not literature.

          Liked by 1 person

          • dgkaye says:

            Thanks so much Margaret for your wonderful advice and sharing. It’s always better to know a source has a good seal of approval. I’m off to sign up now! Thanks again so much. ❤

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh, you sweet thing, I don’t mean to be an obnoxious know-it-all, but the study of literature has been my life, a wonderful way to waste it, huh? And if nothing else, I’m not shy about sharing my opinions. Thanks for putting up with me. Just now sent in my ballot for the annual National Book Critics Circle Awards (somehow, I am a member, was invited to join years ago, probably was, haha, an accident, wink). Anyway the yearly effort and process drives home to me how hard it is to tell the true value and significance of a book in its first year of publication. Only time will truly tell 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  3. bowmanauthor says:

    You are singing the praises of the Greats!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi! Good point. And how deserving they are; when you read them and you wonder why you bother with the countless mayflies of contemporary lit (here today, gone tomorrow). Really great books are few and far between–and last forever, people reading and appreciating them for hundreds and hundreds (!) of years. Writers can learn more about their craft from the masters. Time well spent.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bowmanauthor says:

        I have been reading the classics (American and Brit Lit/European) since I was nine years old (“Gone With The Wind”, which I promptly threw across my bedroom when I reached the ending, but love it just the same). I have quite a collection of wonderful books since my first copy of “Little Woman” at twelve years old and “Anne of Green Gables” not long after. I love used books and quaint little used bookstores. I always find a treasure when I enter one, and I feel all the energy of the masters and the wonderful people who have enjoyed them through the years. I have never found a used book with negative energy … lucky, I guess, or maybe my enthusiasm for the classics takes any negativity away … whoosh! Gone With The Wind!


        • Library sales are great too. We must be from the same gene pool 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • bowmanauthor says:

            Yes, absolutely! Just last year, my mother (90 years young) wanted a LARGE PRINT copy of “Gone With The Wind” (why does that name keep coming up?). The last LP was done in 1964 and if you go to all the haunts online, as I do, you can find one volume (half the book) in poor condition anywhere from $350 and up, up, up; the complete set around $1000 and UP. Too rich for my poor crippled, author’s bank account. I happened to be on a site (Abel’s, I think?), and a set in fair condition swept through while I was researching. $99.00 for a library set from Canada! (Didn’t know what they had or maybe us crazy Americans in Revolution didn’t excite our neighbors to the north). I snatched it up immediately. The postage was outrageous, but so worth it! It was in absolutely beautiful condition, slightly yellowed pages, but I do so love that. Binding was perfect with the original cover. It still had the library card in the back. It hadn’t been checked out since 1984! Ha, Ha, Ha! I have almost all of the Mark Twain books you mentioned in your piece. There are a few I need to investigate. Thanks again for sharing the beautiful information and description.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Some cunning entrepreneur ought to see if he/she can pick up the LP rights from original copyright holder and bring it back into print! There must be a market for it these days. Glad you found one for your Mama! I bet there’s a good audio edition of it that is true to the text (movie wasn’t). What a nice daughter!


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