Books: Quarter Twain

MARK TWAIN, AN AMERICAN PROPHET by Maxwell Geismar. 564 pages. Houghfon Mifflin. $10.

This latest critical appreciation of Mark Twain is not without blemish, being sloppy, narrow, quarrelsome, doctrinaire, vague, repetitive and ungrammatical. But it has its virtues too. The best of these is that Writer Geismar loves Mark Twain and quotes him joyously on almost every page. Sometimes he likes a passage so much that he quotes it twice, but Twain can stand that.

A second virtue is that a reader with patience enough to mush through the swampy parts of Geismar's argument...

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