Mark Twain's Notebooks: Journals, Letters, Observations, Wit, Wisdom, and Doodles

Black Dog & Leventhal. May 2015. 356p. ed. by Carlo De Vito. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781579129972. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781603764025. LIT
An attractively designed and lavishly illustrated hodgepodge of Twain's (1835-1910) writings, this compact volume is misleadingly titled. While it does contain brief selections from a few of the dozens of notebooks Twain compiled throughout his life, the bulk of its contents are miscellaneous quotes, letters, short pieces, and extracts from longer works, arranged under broad subject headings. The book's chief attraction is its illustrations—some in full color—including facsimiles of handwritten manuscripts. It is perhaps best described as a kind of reader for casual browsing. It contains a great number of delightful texts and attractive pictures, but some of the most interesting images are too small to make out without a magnifying glass. Editor De Vito's (A Mark Twain Christmas) own text has more than its share of errors (he can't even keep the names of Twain's daughters straight) and appears to be only barely influenced by anything published on Twain in the past 100 years.
VERDICT This is a book for those not fussy about scholarship or facts and has little to offer to libraries already holding Milton Meltzer's better illustrated Mark Twain Himself.
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