The Life and Work of Mark Twain : The Great Courses: English Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Stephen Railton
  • Series: The Great Courses: English Literature
  • 12 hrs and 16 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's 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 Railton also explores in some detail the unpublished manuscripts, discovered after his death, that reveal this dark and despairing side of Mark Twain.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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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
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- Gjemm


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.

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- Dr. Christina Johns

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses