Hard Cover. Boston: James B. Osgood, 1883. First Edition. Near Fine.
Illustrated with 316 images by John Harley, Edmund Henry Garrett, and A. B. Shute. First edition, second state, with "St. Charles Hotel" to p. 443. Publisher's brown cloth, decorated to front board in black and gilt, gray-tan endpapers. A near fine copy with a slight lean to spine, light rubbing to spine ends, and foxing to top edge of text block. Overall, a beautiful copy. BAL 3411. Life on the Mississippi is a semi-autobiographical text about the history of the Mississippi River and the author's adventures riding on a steamboat from St. Louis to New Orleans. While much of the information in this text is factual, many of the individual episodes were fabricated to varying degrees and are better considered tall tales than accurate documentation. For example, Twain provides an account of the origin of his pseudonym, which he claims he took from Captain Isaiah Sellers. While the explanation of "mark twain" as a riverman's phrase for water found to be two fathoms deep (12 feet) is undoubtedly correct, it is likely that the stories regarding Sellers are at least partially embellished. In addition to offering insight into the author's earlier life, Life on the Mississippi provides historical context on the industrialization of the United States in the second half of the 19th century; throughout the text, Twain discusses the competition of railroads along with the growing cities in the American Midwest and South.