These short fiction and prose pieces display the variety of Twain's imaginative invention, his diverse talents, and his extraordinary emotional range. Twain was a master of virtually every prose genre; in fables and stories, speeches and essays, he skilfully adapted, extended or satirized literary conventions, guided only by his unruly imagination. From the comic wit that sparkles in maxims from 'Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar,' to the parodic perfection of 'An Awful - Terrible Medieval Romance,' to the satirical delights of The Innocents Abroad and Roughing It; from the warm nostalgia of 'Early Days' to the bitter, brooding tone of 'The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg' to the anti-imperial vehemence of 'To the Person Sitting in the Darkness' and the poignant grief expressed in 'Death of Jean', Twain emerges in this volume in many guises, all touched by genius.
Riverboat pilot, journalist, failed businessman (several times over): Samuel Clemens -- the man behind the figure of Mark Twain -- led many lives. But it was in his novels and short stories that he created a voice and an outlook on life that will be forever identified with the American character.