"A delightfully informed path through the complexities of composition, publishing history, and the textual discontinuities that characterize so many of Twain's stories."—Journal of American StudiesBetween 1867, when The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches was published, and the appearance in 1906 of The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories, seven major collections of short works appeared under the name Mark Twain. It has long been held that in most cases Twain had little to do with assembling these books, viewing them mainly as moneymaking ventures and leaving the work largely to others. In the first full and sustained study of the collections ever to appear, Peter Messent argues to the contrary. Exploring the publication history of the volumes as well as a wealth of primary documents, Messent demonstrates that Twain's part in the making of these books was, in fact, considerable. Reading the collections of short works as well as individual tales alongside his novels, Messent discusses Twain's development as an artist in terms of the changing emphases that mark his use of different forms and themes, and the changing modes of humor that he employed.
Peter Messent is Professor of Modern American Literature at the University of Nottingham.