Full of Books

The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories by Mark Twain Review

Title: The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories

Author: Mark Twain

First published January 1, 1916

272 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780451529244 (ISBN10: 0451529243)

Rating: 4.02


Sappho, considered by the Greeks to be their greatest lyric poet, comes to life in this collection of one hundred poems and fragments. Mary Barnard’s translations are unparalleled, capturing the essence of the beloved poet’s work with their lean, incisive, and direct style.

This anthology features Sappho’s verses, which have long been a challenge for translators, rendered more authentically than ever before in English. Get ready to experience the beauty and power of Sappho’s words in a fresh and authentic way.

About the Author

Mark Twain was an American author and humorist, whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He is famous for his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), which is often referred to as “the Great American Novel.”

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which later became the setting for his novel Huckleberry Finn. He started his career as an apprentice with a printer and worked as a typesetter as well as writing articles for his older brother’s newspaper.

He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River and then tried his hand at gold mining before eventually turning to journalism. It was as a reporter that Twain wrote “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” a humorous story which became very popular and brought him national recognition.

His travelogues were also well-received, and Twain realized that writing was his true calling.

His wit and satire earned him praise and friendship from presidents, artists, industrialists, and even European royalty. However, despite making a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, Twain was not financially savvy and squandered much of his wealth on various ventures, including the Paige Compositor.

This led to him declaring bankruptcy, but with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers, he was able to overcome his financial troubles. Twain worked hard to repay all of his creditors in full, even though he was no longer legally obligated to do so after his bankruptcy.

Twain’s life was bookended by Halley’s Comet, as he was born during a visit by the comet and died on its return. He was hailed as the “greatest American humorist of his age” and is often referred to as the “father of American literature.”

Editoral Review

Mark Twains 1916 collection of short stories, The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories, offers readers a glimpse into the prolific writers often dark and twisted imagination. In typical Twain fashion, the seven stories in the collection are filled with sharp irony, biting satire, and a touch of the supernatural.

Twain, known for his wit and humor, takes a decidedly darker tone in The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories. The stories are filled with weighty existential questions and moral dilemmas.

The themes of death, cruelty, and evil recur throughout, giving the collection a somber and introspective feel. The titular story, The Mysterious Stranger, follows a group of boys who meet a strange winged creature who claims to be an immortal being with incredible powers.

The story delves into themes of free will, determinism, and the nature of good and evil, making it one of Twains most philosophical and thought-provoking works. Other stories in the collection, such as Eves Diary, offer a more lighthearted take on Twains signature humor, while still subtly exploring deeper, existential themes.

In this story, Twain reimagines the creation story from the perspective of Eve, adding his own humorous twist. One of the strengths of The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories is Twains mastery of the short story form.

He expertly weaves intricate plots and complex characters into each story, all the while maintaining a fluid and engaging pace. The stories each have a unique voice and style, showing Twains versatility as a writer.

However, the collection does have its flaws. Some readers may find it jarring to shift from the lighthearted humor of Eves Diary to the existential dread of The Mysterious Stranger.

Additionally, the stories can be heavy-handed in their messaging at times, leaving little room for nuance. That being said, The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories is an essential read for fans of Twains work, as well as those interested in the history of American literature.

Twains exploration of weighty themes and expert storytelling make this collection a standout in the canon of American literature. Overall, The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories is a compelling read that will leave readers pondering the nature of life, death, and morality.

While it may not be Twains most accessible work, it certainly stands as one of his most profound. The Washington Post gives this book 4 out of 5 stars.