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Mark Twain in Hawaii by Mark Twain

Mark Twain in Hawaii

by Mark Twain

Other authors: A. Grove Day (Foreword)

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This book was shorter than I expected at 84 pages, with more padding after that consisting of many black and white pictures of Hawaii and important people mentioned in Twain's letters. Twain's writing still makes for an easy, witty read. His more racist observations made me wince yet they remain important within the context of his period.

Twain visited Hawaii at such an interesting time. The native population had been decimated--as he himself observes at one point, a population of 400,000 to 55,000 in 80 years, and more than enough cats for all--and foreign whites were coming in to trade. Sugarcane plantations were just being established. Most relevant to my research needs was his travel to the Big Island, where he offered blithe commentary on Captain Cook's fate and was suitably awed by Kilauea. The foreword by A. Grove Day points out that Twain padded some details--as there was no eruption of Twain's description otherwise chronicles during that time--but that was all part of Twain's storytelling verve. ( )
  ladycato | Sep 6, 2016 |
A collection of essays, originally published for the Sacramento Union newspaper, of the four months Twain spent in the Hawaiian Islands. He writes of the natives and their customs and religions, their foods, the hula hula dance, body surfing, their treatment of animals, and their canoes. He witnessed a royal funeral and visited the active volcano Kilauea. He also explains that he is one of the very few whites to visit Honolulu without being part of the clergy or a sailor. The shock of a stranger at his being unattached to either profession leads to this comical exchange:

"No? Not a missionary! Not a whaler! Not a member of His Majesty's Government! Not even Secretary of the Navy! Ah, Heaven! It is too blissful to be true; alas, I do but dream. And yet that noble, honest countenance-those oblique, ingenuous eyes - that massive head, incapable of- of- anything; your hand; give me your hand, bright waif. Excuse these tears. For sixteen weary years I have yearned for a moment like this, and- "
Here his feelings were too much for him, and he swooned away. I pitied this poor creature from the bottom of my heart. I was deeply moved. I shed a few tears on him and kissed him for his mother. I then took what small change he had and "shoved".

This is a slim book and includes a small section of photos and drawings from the general time of Twain's visit. ( )
  mstrust | May 30, 2015 |
I enjoy Mark Twain (as so many do), and his writing has a "modern" (perhaps read "ironic/sarcastic") tone to it that is enjoyable, and it's present in this book. However, this particular edition is flawed with so many typographical errors that I feel that I am not always reading his work - certainly not as he wrote it. It's irritating. In addition, given that his work actually amounts to only about 85 pages, the publishers felt obligated to include a 30 page foreword (as well as 20 pages of illustrations of the islands as they appeared to Twain). It, too is marred by errors, but is also distracting in that a significant portion of it simply recites Twain's text from the following pages. And in all the foreword, it is not really clear where Twain's work actually came from. The work is described as having been prepared during a stay on the Hawaiian Islands, and submitted as articles for a San Francisco paper. Later, Twain drew upon the work for his autobiography, "Roughing It." This work is subtitled "Roughing It in the Sandwich Islands", but it's not clear if these chapters are reprints of his newspaper articles, or pulled from the larger "Roughing It" work. My rating reflects the very poor editing job, rather than the work itself. That said, the work is somewhat jarring in its blunt descriptions of the "savages", as well as the changes wrought by the missionaries in "civilizing" the islands - a similar fate which has befallen other "primitive" societies, and likely to happen in any meeting of disparate cultures, but sad nonetheless. ( )
  Goodwillbooks | Nov 19, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mark Twainprimary authorall editionscalculated
Day, A. GroveForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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