It is doubtful that anyone will produce a more complete single-volume guide to the life and writing of Mark Twain than MARK TWAIN A TO Z. Although the title might suggest to some readers that Rasmussen’s approach is gimmicky, even a random and casual perusal of this oversized volume will allay such fears. The book is packed with information essential to anyone interested in the writer whom many scholars consider the quintessential American novelist.
Rasmussen presents chapter-by-chapter synopses of all Twain’s novels, including such unpublished ones as “Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians.” These synopses are analytical and are followed in each case by a section entitled “Background and Publishing History,” a resource scholars will find indispensable. The laudatory words of Thomas A. Tenney, editor of the MARK TWAIN JOURNAL, who provided the book’s foreword, confirm that those most knowledgeable about Mark Twain are truly impressed by Rasmussen’s thorough and dependable research.
This volume explores every aspect of Twain’s life and writing and is especially compelling for the information it offers about the author’s career as businessman/publisher. A cover-to-cover reading of MARK TWAIN A TO Z will provide readers with as comprehensive a view of Twain as one can find in the most notable biographies about him, all of which are cited in Rasmussen’s extensive bibliography and many of which are referred to within the volume.
If ever a book on a single author were essential for all libraries, the volume at hand is that book. It is inconceivable to think of a reference collection in any American library that could risk not owning it.
Sources for Further Study
The Beacon Journal. February 4, 1996, p. G4.
Booklist. XCII, October 1, 1995, p. 351.
Choice. XXXIII, February, 1996, p. 932.
Library Journal. CXX, October 1, 1995, p. 78.
Mark Twain Circular. IX, July-September, 1995, p. 10.