Ernest Hemingway called
Huckleberry Finn "the best book we've ever had. There was nothing before. There's been nothing as good since." Critical opinion of this book hasn't dimmed since Hemingway uttered these words. Mark Twain was the most famous American of his day, and remains in ours the most universally revered American writer.
From Ken Burns, Geoffrey Ward, and Dayton Duncan (authors of Jazz, Lewis and Clark, Baseball and The Civil War) comes this audio companion to the PBS film of the same name. It pulls together material from a variety of published and unpublished sources. It examines not merely Twain's justly famous novels, stories, travelogues, and lectures, but also his diaries and letters. The authors take us from Samuel Langhorne Clemens' boyhood in Hannibal, Missouri, to his time as a riverboat worker - when he adopted the sobriquet "Mark Twain."
Twain believed that "The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven." This paradox fueled his hilarity and lay at the core of this irreverent yet profoundly serious author. With essays by Russell Banks, Jocelyn Chadwick, Ron Powers, and John Boyer, as well as an interview with actor and frequent Twain portrayer Hal Holbrook, this audio provides a full and rich portrayal of the first figure of American letters.
Listen to a conversation with Ken Burns.