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The Gilded Age, A Tale of Today

The Gilded Age, A Tale of Today by Mark Twain
By: (1835-1910)

The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today is an 1873 novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner that satirizes greed and political corruption in post-Civil War America. The term gilded age, commonly given to the era, comes from the title of this book. Twain and Warner got the name from Shakespeare's King John (1595): "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily... is wasteful and ridiculous excess." Gilding a lily, which is already beautiful and not in need of further adornment, is excessive and wasteful, characteristics of the age Twain and Warner wrote about in their novel. Another interpretation of the title, of course, is the contrast between an ideal "Golden Age," and a less worthy "Gilded Age," as gilding is only a thin layer of gold over baser metal, so the title now takes on a pejorative meaning as to the novel's time, events and people.

Although not one of Twain's more well-known works, it has appeared in more than 100 editions since its original publication in 1873. Twain and Warner originally had planned to issue the novel with illustrations by Thomas Nast. The book is remarkable for two reasons–-it is the only novel Twain wrote with a collaborator, and its title very quickly became synonymous with graft, materialism, and corruption in public life.

First Page:

THE GILDED AGE

A Tale of Today

By

Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner

1873

Part 1.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I. Squire Hawkins and His Tennessee Land He Decides to Remove to Missouri

CHAPTER II. He Meets With and Adopts the Boy Clay

CHAPTER III Uncle Daniel's Apparition and PrayeR

CHAPTER IV The Steamboat Explosion

CHAPTER V Adoption of the Little Girl Laura Arrival at Missouri Reception by Colonel Beriah Sellers

CHAPTER VI Trouble and Darkness in the Hawkins Family Proposed Sale of the Tennessee Land

CHAPTER VII Colonel Sellers at Home His Wonderful Clock and Cure for Rheumatism

CHAPTER VIII Colonel Sellers Makes Known His Magnificent Speculation Schemes and Astonishes Washington Hawkins

CHAPTER IX Death of Judge Hawkins

ILLUSTRATIONS

FRONTPIECE COL. SELLERS FEEDING HIS FAMILY ON EXPECTATIONS 1.  CONTEMPLATION 2.  THE SQUIRE's HOUSE S.  THE U. S. MAIL 4.  OBEDSTOWN MALES 5.  HURRYING 6.  THE SQUIRE'S KITCHEN 7.  "FOR GOODNESS SAKE SI" 8.  THE LAST COG WHEEL 9.  GONE UP 10.  TAIL PIECE 11.  THE ORPHANS LAST GIFT 12... Continue reading book >>


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