Dear Mark Twain: Letters from His Readers

Univ. of California. 2013. 296p. ed. by . photogs. index. ISBN 9780520261341. $27.50. LIT
Twain scholar Rasmussen (Mark Twain A to Z; The Quotable Mark Twain; Bloom's How To Write About Mark Twain; Critical Companion to Mark Twain) introduces previously unpublished letters written to Twain, adding another perspective to the writer's life. Among the rarer qualities of the letters is that they are all penned by general readers; some request money, others seek autographs or assistance with publishing. Overall, the content is diverse and intriguing. Rasmussen divides the book into five sections beginning with letters written from 1861 to 1870 and ending with the period 1901–10; a time line of significant events in Twain's professional and personal life provides context. Arranged chronologically, each piece of correspondence is followed by Twain's skeptical and often hilarious comments on the authenticity of its author. Rasmussen's tireless research taken from census reports, obituaries, and online resources such as tracks the information of Twain's respected fans.
VERDICT Rasmussen is clearly an expert curator and researcher. Fans of Twain and most libraries will want to secure a copy.
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