Given the opportunity (or necessity) of studying Mark Twain's writings, one will easily conclude their timelessness. Here, in this collection of speeches, his humor is also supremely evident. Consider this short excerpt from a speech on "Woman - An Opinion" given in Washington D.C., January 11, 1868: ". . . . look at the mother of Washington! She raised a boy that could not tell a lie - could not tell a lie! But he never had any chance. It might have been different if he had belonged to the Washington Newspaper Correspondents' Club."
Twain's opinion of women leads off this collection, and one easily moves from one to another. Granted, Twain was a master actor and performer. Reading his speeches can never compare with experiencing one and yet, the humor comes through. You can almost hear the pauses for effect (sometimes supplied by the hearer/collector). Some of what he has to say would give us pause in our present culture (his notes on smoking, for example), but there are underlying nuggets of truth encased in wit that make it all worthwhile. This collection (a Dover thrift edition) includes 56 enjoyable speeches. 169 pgs. pb
In addition to being one of America's greatest novelists and humorists, Mark Twain (18351910) was a captivating public speaker. Once he became an established author with an enthusiastic following, Twain earned a substantial part of his income by conducting lecture tours. This compilation brings together a generous selection of his best speeches, highlighting his legendary wit and powers of wry observation.
Twain was reputed to have possessed a modern stand-up comedian's mastery of timing and delivery and to have understood his medium completely. He preferred to give the impression that he was speaking off the cuff, but he also often handed out advance copies of his speeches to journalists to be sure that they would quote him accurately and get the jokes right. Among these speeches are his famous 70th birthday address delivered at a gala 1905 event in his honor at New York's Delmonico's Restaurant; his classic address on "Plymouth Rock and the Pilgrims," with which he entertained a meeting of Philadelphia's New England Society in 1881; and the perennial favorite, "Horrors of the German Language," delivered at the Vienna Press Club in 1897.