Bibliophile reviews Roughing It by Mark Twain

This was my classic for January and I should really have posted it before my review of Cranford (February’s classic, but I forgot I had written it.

Title: Roughing It
Author: Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens)
Year originally published: 1872
Genre: Memoir, travelogue
Setting & time: Western USA, mid-1800s

In Roughing It, Twain tells the story of how he left the east and travelled west, intending to stay for a few months and ending up staying several years. He tells of his own adventures: how he worked as a reporter, prospected for silver and attempted to start a lumber camp, among other things, ending up as a public lecturer. He also tells tales, both tall ones and ones that ring true, and most of all he describes the life in the silver mining towns and other places he lived in or visited, and the magnificent natural surroundings he saw, for example at Lake Tahoe and in Hawaii, which was then called the Sandwich Islands. The story is an entertaining mixture of fact and fiction, which can often not be told apart. Twain was a wonderful story teller and missed no opportunity to tell a good one, never mind whether it was true or not. He could also write wonderfully evocative descriptions of nature and people.

Rating: A funny and interesting account of Twain’s adventures in the wild west. 4 stars.


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