San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin [unsigned]
1877: January 20

Whatever Mark Twain writes is pretty sure of an eager popular recognition. And it is due to him to say that he finds his readers and admirers among all classes, here and in England. His humor has that eclectic quality that makes itself appreciated alike by the tutored and untutored, by the refined and coarse natured; for it appeals to the instinctive love of the ludicrous and the exaggerated which dwells in all human souls. His last book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, is not unworthy his well-earned fame. Nowhere else do his peculiar gifts appear more conspicuous, does his lawless fancy have more free play, is his drollery more unctuously genuine. The book we suspect to have some of the characteristics of an autobiography. Tom Sawyer is too vividly realistic to be entirely a creation of fancy. If the author had not told us that it was drawn in part at least from life we would have been irresistibly forced to the conclusion that the master-touches were evolved from his "inner consciousness." He must have felt in his deepest experience what he so vividly and with such intense truthfulness describes. "Tom Sawyer" is the story of a harum scarum reckless boy, not bad, but full to the brim of childish perverseness. The old Adam possesses him from the very cradle, making him the plague of the household, the terror of goody-goody folks, the persecutor of those colorless little seraphs known as "good boys." He will lie, he will cheat at play, he will steal in a small way, he will impose upon the credulity of guileless Sunday-school superintendents by palming other boys' "reward of merit" tickets as his own; he will desecrate the Lord's Day by taking a snapping bug to church with him and fixing it to a pious dog's tail. He is taken sick, and his aunt gives him a painkiller to alleviate his bodily torments, but instead of taking it himself as a good boy should, he administers it to the cat, to the great bodily agony of that persecuted quadruped. And so he goes from bad to worse, capping the climax of his wicked ways by turning amateur pirate -- floating off on a raft with two boon companions, taking possession of a desolate island in the Mississippi river, where they remain three days, to the great anguish of their friends, who gave them up for drowned. Discovered and brought back, Tom assumes the air of a hero, and is looked upon with awe and envy by his less adventurous play-fellows. For his later exploits, we refer the reader to the narrative, which will be found almost as absorbing in its interest as Robinson Crusoe. Published by the American Publishing Co. Sold only by subscription. A. Roman & Co. are the agents for the Pacific Coast.

Homepage Next Page