Read How to Tell a Story and Other Essays by Mark Twain Pascal Covici Online


"Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences," the best-known and best-loved essay in this collection, is Mark Twain's how-to guide for the would-be author. A hilarious and cutting critique of what not to do, this deliciously wicked essay also lays out what writers should and must do if they want their fiction to live and breathe--as Twain's own fiction always does. In "How to Tel"Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences," the best-known and best-loved essay in this collection, is Mark Twain's how-to guide for the would-be author. A hilarious and cutting critique of what not to do, this deliciously wicked essay also lays out what writers should and must do if they want their fiction to live and breathe--as Twain's own fiction always does. In "How to Tell a Story," the title piece, Twain takes on such mysteries as the perfectly-timed pause and the uses of the dead-pan mask, and candidly describes his own efforts to hone his platform skills. In "What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us," Twain lays out a job description for the "native novelist" that is as fresh and accurate today as when Twain first wrote it. Anyone who cares about storytelling or writing will find Twain's sage suggestions in this volume compelling and engaging....

Title : How to Tell a Story and Other Essays
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780195101492
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

How to Tell a Story and Other Essays Reviews

  • Bradley
    2019-04-06 20:16

    Above all, this was entertaining and fun to read out loud. Mark Twain really has a knack for knowing how to make a story aurally sound good.

  • Jay Stevens
    2019-04-03 23:16

    Rather abrupt changes with little to no flow between them, although the anecdotes themselves are fine. It wasn't quite what I was expecting; I had assumed the "other essays" mentioned were essays about writing, when in reality they were just whatever Twain had thought of at the moment, including his views on ESP.This makes sense, however: at the time this was published, Twain was going completely bankrupt. He was churning out piece after piece to make ends meet, these essays among them. The diminishing quality truly does show.

  • Chad Quintero
    2019-04-17 18:59

    Nice short essays that convey Mark Twain's belief on how to tell a humorous story, the American way. A quick and enjoyable read.

  • Gary
    2019-04-10 20:18

    Twain explains how to tell long, humorous tales.

  • Van Ryan
    2019-04-07 21:04

    A short book, but possibly one of the funniest I've ever read! I laughed nearly the whole way through, particularly at the story which Twain wrote concerning the Limburger cheese incident towards the end of the book. I'd recommend this one to anybody!

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-08 19:07

    As a whole, this made for a nice time filler. Nothing blew me away but it had its charm.There were some pleasant and unpleasant stories, mostly filled with Mark Twain's signature wit. I found the Golden Arm highly unpleasant, but otherwise I have no major complaintsI would recommend it for anyone looking to read some Twain..

  • Eric
    2019-03-25 22:16

    Terrific collection of Twain shortsKindle formatting only ok but not bothersome and no excess of typographical errors in the transcription. More wonderful stories by our greatest author.

  • Svetlana
    2019-03-25 20:11

    Супер ) Твен побаловался немножко и получилось нечто весьма простое и гениальное )))

  • Cat aka Booksnblabbers
    2019-04-24 00:57

    Unfortunately I was bored throughout this book and had to DNF it. I love Mark Twains stories and this made me even more sad to have to DNF this book.

  • Nathan Hersey
    2019-04-02 00:07

    Good, funny, and short. I recommend this to anyone. Mark Twain has a gift of sounding smart, funny, and simple (because or the Missouri talk) all at the same time.

  • Nicolas Pujol
    2019-04-23 21:55

    A very short read consumed while on summer break in the Canadian mountains. Twain's writing by itself is the lesson. The "how to tell" part was less straightforward, but it was worth it.

  • Yules
    2019-04-05 19:55

    This was weird.Several stories, unclear if true or not, in which Twain tries to teach the reader how to tell one. They're a bit strange, but entertaining.

  • wally
    2019-04-12 22:54

    short happy piece about writing, telling a story, and twain tells a few to finish it off. i enjoyed the expressions he used on the train. that was a hoot. short sweet and to the point.thought of something...there's a few...sketches, that twain provides, to do w/...for lack of a better word, supernatural. i assume these are true...heh!....stories, as they have a ring of truth to them, those tings that happen, things that give you pause.say, like he...whew...brain just crashed...send a damage report to the big boss...anyway, say like he was thinking of someone in australia, sends them a letter inquiring about visiting or some such matter, and a day or two later, he gets a letter from way they got his letter yet, but they've sent him one saying come on down, we'll do the outback steakhouse and go see the girls in perth.and, this other...he was speaking somewhere, thought he saw someone he knew...later, a helper said someone is back stage, wants to meet and greet...he figures, oh, yeah, oboy oboy, i bet i know who it is...turns out it was who he thought, as he saw her standing the song goes...was that john or paul?anyway, she wasn't there...thing is, but and so but like she tells him that, but he was convinced he saw her, though he accounts it may be cause he fell asleep for a a moment......things like that...supernatural...telegrapher ideas...kinda neato

  • Lanise
    2019-04-03 19:53

    How to Tell a Story and Other Essays by Mark Twain is a short, quirky, and informative book about the mechanics of comedy and humorous storytelling.Twain was one of the masters at writing humorous stories, and in his book he expresses a view on differences between humor and comedy. On page one of the book, he states:There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind--the humorous. I will talk mainly about that one. The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter.Twain's book is interesting until midway through when he goes off on a tangent about believing he's "telegraphic" or telepathic. I'm not sure where that psychic curve ball came from, but the middle of the book seems to be there just as filler, or some random thought from Twain's stream of consciousness.Then the book ends with a humorous short story about a man, a coffin full of guns, and a rank Limburger cheese. It's one of the funniest stories I've read in some time. So, I have a mixed opinion about this book.It's worth the read if you admire Twain's other writings or might be interested in a quick quirky piece. It's not worth a read if you're expecting this to be another masterpiece of literature. Overall, How to Tell a Story and Other Essays is an unusual book about humor... and telepathy. It's interesting that's for sure.

  • Steve Lovejoy
    2019-04-03 20:15

    This little book from the Gutenberg Project has several fairly short, essays within an essay about how to properly tell a humorous story.Mark Twain (AKA Samuel Clemens) became a popular writer with good reason. He writes well, handles dialects in a manner that is accurate and maintains the dignity of his characters.There seem to be various editions of essays by Twain, all having the same title, the Gutenberg edition and the Oxford Edition are quite similar, approaching identity, with the exception that the Gutenberg Project edition is a free download.Twain's humor is intact, as it is generally based on things that go beyond current events. When he discusses mental telegraphy (telepathy), however, he strikes an only slightly bemused, serious tone.I recommend these essays as an re-introduction for anyone that has not read an essay since High School (and then not willingly), anyone that wants to start reading Mark Twain again, and almost anyone else that is still drawing breath.

  • Robert
    2019-03-24 21:20

    The essay that describes storytelling as an American art is spot on! I highlighted several passages in it. Twain did an excellent job of describing the difference between American and European stories and the preference for the American."The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it."I love that! Indeed, that is storytelling to me.Twain then illustrates the European comic story in "The Wounded Soldier" and how there is nothing to it (even a machine could tell it). He then tells the reader that the American version of the story would be the bumbling storyteller who absentmindedly screws up the details, rambles on for 10 minutes to deliver the funny. This would have been much better illustrated with the full text of such a story.The remaining stories (apparitions and the corpse on the train) I found lacking.

  • Ria
    2019-04-22 23:54

    An interesting collection of stories and essays by Mark Twain, totally unconnected these little vignettes tells of his adventures and travels. Most of all I enjoyed the story he told of The wounded soldier and the death of his friend when he accompanied his remains on a train.Witty and enjoyable, its a refreshing and light hearted look at what Twain got upto, although short he packed a lot into this little volume of his experiences. Well worth a read especially if you are a fan of the author in general.

  • Dave Hanna
    2019-04-06 18:59

    If you aren't a fan of Twain, you probably won't enjoy this small collection of essays, which run the gamut from instruction to metaphysics to very dry humor. But if you relish seeing how a good story develops, seemingly without effort and on its own, you will like this grouping. Language aficionados will appreciate the vocabulary and syntax employed by Twain, but readers who focus on modern writing may find it a bit taxing. (Also, many of the names Twain drops will send a good many scurrying to Wikipedia, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.)

  • Annabelle
    2019-04-22 21:20

    This short book holds nothing extraordinary, more so the essay on how to tell a story. Except for Mark Twain's capacity for coincidence, and he shares here four instances, which he terms "mental telegraphy." Among the four stories, the second ultimately stands out, which tells of the author's having seen a long-lost friend at a reception, when said friend at that time still enroute to the affair! Interesting.

  • Rambox
    2019-04-19 19:17

    Not at all what I was expecting. I suppose I took the title a little too literally. But even that first essay wasn't so much of an essay as a story. These arent essays, they are stories. There is no exposition of Twain's ideas about writing. This is not his version of Orwell's Politics and the English Language, or even his Why I Write. If I was looking for some Of Twains short stories then this might have better fit the bill - especially if the book were so renamed.

  • August
    2019-04-19 22:18

    Eh. Usually Twain appeals to me, especially in short, quotable form, but this wasn't particularly enlightening or interesting. I suppose there was humor to be found in it, but it wasn't really worth the 20 minutes it took to read. Alas!Then again, I think I had a very short version. Perhaps that was the problem.

  • Sarah Spelbring
    2019-03-29 21:53

    A small collection of essays where Mr. Twain gives advice on storytelling, including writing humor, basic storytelling, and many other tidbits of knowledge. It was very short and I enjoyed reading it, though I didn't really pick up anything new about writing (except for a brief introduction to humor, which is something I've never thought about writing).

  • Luis Villafane
    2019-04-02 02:57

    A rather short essay on how to tell a humorous story, the way a true comedic artist would.The one example story "The Invalid's Story" is one of the most hilarious things I have experienced, and I often frequent "Cracked", "The Onion", and Wal-Mart. Highly recommended reading for fans of Twain and comedy. It's public domain on Project Gutenburg. [Free]

  • Sung-Gi Kim
    2019-03-31 03:23

    From the text:The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter.

  • Paul
    2019-04-12 19:08

    A series of essays by Mark Twain. My two favorites of the stories were Traveling with a Reformer and in Defense of Harriet Shelley. Overall, not the easiest read but the above two stories were worthwhile.

  • Altivo Overo
    2019-04-14 20:55

    No one tells it betterA quick read and entertaining too. I had never seen any of this except for the final story. That last one is a bit gruesome for children but a good laugh for the mature reader who understands the historical setting.

  • Karishma
    2019-04-08 20:03

    This may have been better if I had read it as a book. Something about the formatting of the Kindle edition makes it so that all the essays run together, and you want them to make sense as a whole, which they don't do.

  • Kent Winward
    2019-04-01 19:13

    Twain recounts comic advice for the 19th Century. The advice is good as far as it goes and a little dated, but an interesting artifact on the evolution of comedy. Oddly enough, Twain's advice seems a little bit like a pitch for Seinfeld -- the comedy is all in the telling, not in the punchline.

  • Tom
    2019-04-07 21:06

    This is a bit of a cheat, because this particular version was the slim version, omitting such essays as Twain's takedown of James Fennimore Cooper. That said, what was in the version I read was far from his best.

  • Lindsay
    2019-04-09 01:08

    It's always interesting to look at older writings and see how well they've stood the test of time, and this has definitely done that. Some advised on telling stories, always pertinent, and some examples as well. An entertaining and informative read.