Teresa's Reviews > Life on The Mississippi

Life on The Mississippi by Mark Twain
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
541416
's review

really liked it

So often my reading seems to unintentionally reflect upon itself. I’ve been doing a very slow read of the Michael Slater biography of Dickens and had finished the account of his first American tour when I started this after a friend asked me to read it with her. Almost immediately I encountered a mention of Dickens and then references to two earlier British travel writers, Captain Marryat and Captain Basil Hall. Dickens read the works of the two captains in preparation for his own trip to the U.S. And Mark Twain must’ve read the three in preparation for this work. So perhaps that’s why I thought of calling my review A Tale of Two Halves: certainly this holds “the best of times” and “the worst of times” for Twain, encompassing both personal triumph (though spoken of self-deprecatingly) and personal tragedy.

In the book’s first half Twain relates an entertaining history of the river; his love for the river starting from his time as a young boy in Hannibal, Missouri; and, most famously, his experiences as a very young man as a cub pilot on a steamboat. In the second half he describes his return to the river after the war, again on a steamboat but as a passenger; the changes to the steamboat industry; and the towns and cities he passes and visits on the river, from St. Louis to New Orleans to Minneapolis, including a stop in Hannibal. Interspersed are facts, tales, anecdotes and legends, told with hyperbole, humor, wit, and irony— in short, everything we’ve come to associate with Mark Twain. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by several beautiful (though never sentimental) passages.

As I wrote in a comment to a friend (and thank you to another friend for telling me how much he liked the comment): It's a meandering read, but that's ok, it's like a river.
26 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Life on The Mississippi.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

July 18, 2017 – Shelved
Started Reading
August 5, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Howard Interspersed are facts, tales, anecdotes and legends, told with hyperbole, humor, wit, and irony— in short, everything we’ve come to associate with Mark Twain.

Yep, that's Mark Twain. When reading his work it is often difficult, or impossible, to separate fact from legend, but it doesn't matter. He wasn't a historian, he was a story teller, a great one. And great story tellers never let facts get in the way of a good story.

Very good, Teresa. And your closing comment is a perfect description of this book.


Teresa You're so right that it doesn't matter. Which makes me wonder why it 'matters' to us in Maxwell. Different kind of storytellers.

Thank you, Howard.


Howard Teresa wrote: "You're so right that it doesn't matter. Which makes me wonder why it 'matters' to us in Maxwell. Different kind of storytellers.

Thank you, Howard."


Yes, different kind of storytellers. Maxwell doesn't come from the tall tale school of writing.


Teresa Marita wrote: "Teresa, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review."

Thanks, Marita. Glad I could return the favor. :)


message 5: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Wonderful review, Teresa. Clemens has a special place for me , especially after viewing a series presented by PBS several years ago. I thought it was a gem. Did you see it?


Teresa Thanks, Barbara. No, I haven't, though I have a vague memory of it being advertised.


Julie Mickens I really like this book, but your review makes me realize I recall the first part much better than the second. I'll have to get back and review it someday.


message 8: by James (new)

James Murphy As you know, I've recently reread Huckleberry Finn, and I'm inspired by my enjoyment of it and by your enthusiasm for Life on the Mississippi to enjoy it as well.


Teresa Julie wrote: "I really like this book, but your review makes me realize I recall the first part much better than the second. I'll have to get back and review it someday."

I think most people do, Julie. It's a shorter section, but it's quite dramatic and effective.


Teresa James wrote: "As you know, I've recently reread Huckleberry Finn, and I'm inspired by my enjoyment of it and by your enthusiasm for Life on the Mississippi to enjoy it as well."

As I said, there's some beautiful writing here, besides the expected great storytelling. It's inspired me to reread Huck Finn, though I don't know when I'll do that.


Howard Teresa wrote: "James wrote: "As you know, I've recently reread Huckleberry Finn, and I'm inspired by my enjoyment of it and by your enthusiasm for Life on the Mississippi to enjoy it as well."

As I said, there's..."


I forgot to ask you about the illustrations. Do they add to the book? Unfortunately, there are none in my copy.


Teresa They're mostly just fun. Some are superfluous. I can think of only one that added to the text. And I can think of at least one that would be deemed racially insensitive now. You can see them here: http://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/twai...


Howard Teresa wrote: "They're mostly just fun. Some are superfluous. I can think of only one that added to the text. And I can think of at least one that would be deemed racially insensitive now. You can see them here: ..."

Thanks. I'm headed there.


back to top