9780195114126 / 0195114124

The American Claimant (1892) (The Oxford Mark Twain)


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Publisher:Oxford University Press, 1997



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About the book:

"The American Claimant is enormous fun. I'm here to celebrate the mad energy of this strange novel. In it we have the pleasure of seeing Mark Twain's imagination go berserk," writes Bobbie Ann Mason in her charming introduction to this novel. The American Claimant is a comedy of mistaken identities and multiple role switches -- fertile and familiar Mark Twain territory -- all revolving around the serious debate between the hereditary aristocracy of Europe and the democracy of America. The central character, Colonel Mulberry Sellers, is an effusive and buoyant mad scientist, brimming with energy and hare-brained ideas, whose voluble wackiness leaves the reader reeling in the wake of inventions that prefigure DNA cloning, fax machines, and photocopiers, and which include a Cursing Phonograph that stores up the profanity necessary for use with sailors at sea. At the same time, Twain delves deeply into issues of constructing self and identity, and into the moral and social questions raised by the increasing capitalism and industrialism of the United States. The American Claimant stands at a juncture between science fiction and fantasy, romance, farce, and political satire. It touches on the themes at the very center of American identity and of Twain's own relationship to American society, woven together in the colorful crazy quilt that is Twain's writing, a brilliant tapestry of free-wheeling American idiom, standard English, and the stuffy utterances of English earls. As Twain himself said while writing The American Claimant, "I think it will simply howl with fun. I wake up in the night laughing."

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