San Francisco Call [B. B. Toby]
1872: 28 April

Mark Twain

Roughing It is the title of Mark Twain's last book. The volume is full of humor and atrocious woodcuts, even more grotesque than the text. The book is made up of anecdote and descriptions of the author's experiences "on the Plains," in Virginia City, and in the Sandwich Islands. No writer ever made so much out of so little, and that much of such excellent quality. Notwithstanding his palpable exaggeration in certain parts when describing incidents, there is much more of truth to be found, and a better idea of situations (in the theatrical sense) conveyed, than can be obtained from the most sober-sided narrative of the events of which he tells. One peculiarity in Twain is, that the reader is never deceived; there is not the least effort required to discover when he is in earnest and when he is joking. Even in those sudden transitions from solemn narrative to grotesque metaphor or absurd assertion, he does not offend, for the very grotesqueness and absurdity save the reader's vanity from affront; he feels that Twain is not laughing at, but with him that is, so the reader believes. In truth, Mark tells some of the most magnificent "whoppers" with an ease and seeming candor not to be controverted except by those who know the facts--witness his narrative of his first effort as a lecturer.

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