Read The American Claimant by Mark Twain Peter Messent Online


"The American Claimant is enormous fun. I'm here to celebrate the mad energy of this strange novel. In it we have the pleasure of seeing Mark Twain's imagination go berserk," writes Bobbie Ann Mason in her introduction. The American Claimant is a comedy of mistaken identities and multiple role switches--fertile and familiar Mark Twain territory. Its cast of characters incl"The American Claimant is enormous fun. I'm here to celebrate the mad energy of this strange novel. In it we have the pleasure of seeing Mark Twain's imagination go berserk," writes Bobbie Ann Mason in her introduction. The American Claimant is a comedy of mistaken identities and multiple role switches--fertile and familiar Mark Twain territory. Its cast of characters include an American enamored of British hereditary aristocracy and a British earl entranced by American democracy. The central character, Colonel Mulberry Sellers, is an irrepressible, buoyant mad scientist, Mason writes, "brimming with harebrained ideas. Nothing is impossible for him.... He's totally loopy." His voluble wackiness leaves the reader reeling in the wake of inventions that prefigure DNA cloning, fax machines, and photocopiers. Twain uses this over-the-top comic frame to explore some serious issues as well--such as the construction of self and identity, the role of the press in society, and the moral and social questions raised by capitalism and industrialization in the United States. A unique melange of science fiction and fantasy, romance, farce, and political satire, Twain's least-known comic novel is both thought-provoking and entertaining....

Title : The American Claimant
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780195114126
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The American Claimant Reviews

  • Zach
    2019-02-01 17:20

    The American Claimant is a novel filled with several strains of Quixotism that are combined with Mark Twain's masterful use of irony to illuminate. The love story that unfolds in the later portion of the book is a pleasure to read. Twain's gifted exploration of the free press and its possibilities is wincingly instructive. To add to these delights, the American Claimant allows Twain to explore beauty, the stumbling quest for identity & purpose, the precarious nature of equality in aristocracies & democracies -- amongst many other eternal, infernal, and confounding aspects of life. I highly recommend reading this (or any Twain) in the Oxford edition. The faithful (and near perfect) facsimiles of the texts as Twain intended them to be published allow readers more of Twain's genius -- including the illustrations he often commissioned for this books. Here's a favorite quote, "The exercise of an extraordinary gift is the supremest pleasure in life."

  • wally
    2019-01-22 19:10

    There's a couple notes at the beginning, one an explanatory saying that the Colonel Mulberry Sellers was the Eschol Sellers in the 1st edition of The Gilded Age, and as Beriah Sellers in subsequent editions, the change the result of someone named Eschol who showed up threatening a lawsuit...Then there's this other, the weather in this book that tells the reader, "no weather will be found in this book. this is an attempt to pull a book through without weather...." weather delays. Heh! He has borrowed weather, he says, from those more qualified! Course, it is in the Appendix, out of the way.Chapter 1 begins:"It is a matchless morning in rural England. On a fair hill we see a majestic pile, the ivied walls and towers of Cholmondeley Castle, huge relic and witness of the baronial grandeurs of the Middle Ages. This is one of the seats of the Earl of Rossmore..."Onward and upward.updatecomplete, finished, 1APR12, Sunday afternoon, 5:55 p.m. e.s.t.And he does, he does include some weather from other sources...including rained for 40 days and 40 nights.A fanciful tale, initially difficult to read, to figure where Twain was going with this, where he was coming from. Starts out there in England at the Earl of Rossmore's place, the Earl and his family, as I understand it, subject to demands from some folk in the states to what they believe is their rightful station...the Earl's station. Well, the Earl has a son and like sons everywhere, this one heads out to sow his oats, not wanting to be an Earl.After that initial opening with the Earl and his son there...that goes on for a time...then the story switches to Colonel Mulberry and his wife. Mulberry is only the latest of his line who believes he should be an Earl, that the one there is an usurper...and then this senator/politician guy shows up for a visit...Hawkins.These two, Mulberry and Hawkins, they are a hoot. Mulberry believes he can materialize dead people, has been working on gadgets, has invented some sort of child's puzzle, and they need money to finance the purchase of Siberia. Mulberry figures to start a republic with all the brains that the czar sends there, keeping the mass of Russia down at his level of intelligence.Meanwhile, the Earl's son is out and about, trying hard not be an Earl and having a hard time of it. He eventually meets Sally, or Sarah as she is properly called...Sally Sarah, Gwendolyn, or Lady Gwendolyn, as she should be called, her old man has his way...Sally meets the Earl's son who goes by a variety of names and is confused with a number of others, including a one-armed bank robber name of Pete.An entertaining read, amusing for all the misunderstandings in it.

  • Laurel
    2019-02-06 00:10

    This book was a real delight! One of Twain's lesser known works, I had never even heard of it until a GR friends recommended it to me. I'm a bit surprised The American Claimant is not more widely read, as Twain's humor and gift of farce really shine in this short but wonderfully comical and romantic little tale.The audio version narrated by Richard Henzel (who, admittedly is above- said GR friend) is superbly done. I have listened to literally hundreds of audio-books and it is rare to find a narration so well-acted and effortlessly performed. His passion for the story really brought the characters to life.I would recommend this without hesitation to any and all Twain fans.

  • Danny
    2019-02-16 21:26

    Formally and thematically, The American Claimant is a mess--slipshod and incoherent stuff, not that it doesn't have a few hilarious scenes. In the novel, the rightful heir to an English earldom, a socially ambitious American attorney and inventor (with bizarre schemes) secures his title and switches places with the newly deposed earl, a man enamored with American democracy, bent on making his way in the world based on his own merit. Comic moments aside, the novel is fascinating for the way it exposes inequalities in American democracy and shows Twain working through his distaste for and fascination with the English aristocracy (a subject that he tackles again in A Connecticut Yankee and The Prince and the Pauper). The essayist at the town hall meeting condemns aristocracy as an illegitimate form of governance, wherein the majority of people are duped into slaving away for the benefit of a small elite. The starry-eyes American adorers of aristocracy are satirized as ridiculous. But democracy, as the the former earl learns, is far from ideal. Speaking of the illegitimacy of aristocracy a character points out its grotesqueness:"Well, then, let a man in his right mind try to conceive of Darwin feeling flattered by the notice of a princess. It’s so grotesque that it—well, it paralyzes the imagination. Yet that Memnon was flattered by the notice of that statuette; he says so—says so himself. The system that can make a god disown his godship and profane it—oh, well, it’s all wrong, it’s all wrong and ought to be abolished, I should say.”

  • Amanda McDougle
    2019-02-14 19:20

    I am surprised The American Claimant is not as popular or recommended as much as Mark Twain's other tales. I do not see this book as a tale. Rather, I see this in the same light as Arthur Miller's play "The Death of A Salesman." The success of the American man is measured of having skills instead of being born into nobility the way the British are. The oppressed man can be reflected throughout this entire story. In the beginning, Berkley is an earl's son living the grand life in British in a palace with his Father. The conflict of this story happens when Berkley independently decides to find his American family and rightfully turn over the duties of being an earl to the man of the family. This creates tension between the elder earl and his son. Living in England, the noble traits of Berkley are first described as being "candor, kindliness, honesty, sincerity, simplicity, modest" - and what person would not wish to be written in this light by the great Mark Twain? These characteristics are decent and fitting for a young man who has never ventured out into the real world where evil lurks when least expected. This does happen for Berkley, unfortunately, as the story progresses and he takes on a new identity of Howard Tracey.Women are not featured in a positive light in this story. This could be that during Twain's time, women's equal rights were not granted. Strong, independent women had no voices in society. Polly Sellers and Sally Sellers are not my favorite characters. Polly is a big gossiper who seems to be domineering in the household. She has no career independent of the home. She seems to be loving and sympathetic to her husband's great ideas of striking it big financially. Sally is also a realist. She can see that her husband is oppressed, poverty-stricken, and gives money away to the needy in a careless way. African Americans are not featured in a positive light. This could stem from Mark Twain's childhood. When Twain grew up, the Presbyterian religion in the South was for slavery. Twain grew up listening to the strong voices of African Americans. This regional dialect is included in the book, although not in a nice way. The treatment of the African American couple living with the Sellers can also be taken as a warning. Don't settle for this inhumane treatment. When Sally Sellers is first introduced, she lives in a college dorm. Her major and plan of success is not discussed. After her father discloses that he is to become an earl, Sally leaves college for good. I am not happy about the way this young lady leaves her dreams and goals behind for the love of money. In her day, women were not given the equal opportunity to advance in the world through education. Mark Twain could have written her education off as a lesson to modern readers. The role of women were to be in the home during his time. This was written from a man's perspective alone. The way of the world was not equal. When Berkley enters the world of America, he is to be admired. Here is a young man leaving his inherited nobility behind to follow in the path of men who had discovered their dreams in America. This path turns out to be a nightmare from the beginning. Berkley does not flee back home to England. With the assistance of Barrow, Berkley is able to grow, mature, and develop. Finally, a father figure sees Berkley as a real person instead of nobility. Barrow believes in Berkley's talents and tries his best to help him find a job. Berkley begins to realize that a good education is nothing without the balance of life experience.My least favorite character - which is the antagonist - is society. Society in America looks down on the oppressed man who has nothing. This is represented by Mr. Marsh, the stern owner of a boardinghouse. The reason Mr. Marsh owns this operation is unknown. Mr. Marsh treats the oppressed man with mockery, shame, and disappointment. As a reader, I wanted to reach out to the first scorned male character who was victimized by Mr. Marsh. I felt the humiliation, feeling of failure, and exhaustion in the character's heart. I wanted to lift him up as a loving sister would and tell him not to listen to this monster. But I could not. I had to watch helplessly. One lesson I use to conclude is to not be idle when inventing a new invention. Mulberry Sellers has a room full of inventions that corporate America would love to have. Had he used these inventions to sell, he would not be an oppressed man. Until the return of Hawkins, Mulberry Sellers never has ambition or motivation. Hawkins tries to teach Sellers to use his voice loud and clear. This is not something Mulberry Sellers has ever done, so it is new and a bit scary. Sellers wants to be rich and successful but never had a plan of action. Hawkins taught Sellers to become a stronger man. Even when Hawkins knew him years ago, there was a great deal of respect. This does not change. This friendship is what drives Sellers to buy the country of Siberia. He is able to physically see the world and be happy. The dream may not only be American but it can happen.I give The American Claimant a five star rating. I understand Mark Twain. Mark Twain creates a story over politics and social classes that are active in our world. The young can mature when reading this book. Parents can use this book as a guide to let their children go and see if they will make it in the world. Every person can benefit from reading this story in some way. A reader must enter this story with an open mind and a big loving heart.

  • Thom Swennes
    2019-01-29 22:14

    Last year I took it upon myself to read all of the works of that well known and talented 19th Century American author, Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain). Believing that I had accomplished my goal I was flabbergasted when this book appeared like the genie from Aladdin’s lamp. The magical appearance of this little known masterpiece serves to attest to both the proficiency and literary fertility. This story is a lyrical and symphonic composition of nonsensical and absurd prose. Berkley, the son of an English Earl renounces his hereditary claim and declares his intention of immigrating to the United States and accomplishing his future fortunes with his own hands. He had a virtual cornucopia of misconceptions and erroneous beliefs of American society, politics, traditions and mannerisms. This is hardly the hegira of a man that had never accomplished anything. Who else would be capable of writing such a funny and interesting spoof on such a weak foundations? I can’t help but be surprised that this novel isn’t better known and praised than it is. This is certainly food for thought. If you are looking for a memorable book that will have you sporadically laughing, even long after you’ve read the last word of the last page, this is the book for you. The old saying goes: “Better late than never,” it is high time that this story achieves the notoriety is so richly deserves.

  • Christiane
    2019-02-03 22:16

    I was quite glad to see (read) the last of that kind-hearted, tiresome old windbag, Colonel Sellers, when I finished “The Gilded Age” but here he crops up again with his usual grandiloquence and harebrained schemes.This is a turbulent tale of changed identities which once again reveals Mark Twain’s profound knowledge of human nature and his strong aversion to hereditary nobility, the Established Church, a servile press, the Russian Czar, etc. etc. etc.Young idealistic Viscount Berkeley, son of the usurper, renounces his earldom and goes to America where “everybody is free and equal” to make a life built entirely on his own hard work and merit while Mulberry Sellers of "Rossmore Towers" claims his rightful peerage for the glory of himself, his long-suffering wife Polly and his spirited daughter Sally.I really enjoyed the Viscount Berkeley part but Colonel Sellers is definitely over the top and I hope never to hear from him again.

  • Anna
    2019-02-08 00:21

    I really enjoyed this edition of the Oxford Mark Twain which is a reproduction of the first American edition of The American Claimant including layouts, type illustrations. The foreword and afterword essays really grounded the story for me.On the surface, it's pure farce -- very silly -- and could be easily be cont'd

  • John Harder
    2019-02-10 18:11

    A young English heir to an earldom decides to go to America incognito in order to prove that he can live by his own wits and labor. Keep in mind there was no welfare state at the time which allows for our modern equivalent of a leisure class. There was no lounging about waiting for the next romantic encounter and the ensuing illegitimate child. No, people were expected to work for their bread. For our young Earl this is problematic and the results are rife with hijinks.The American Claimant is a fine mirror of American mores and culture. The “unknown” work of Twain's is worth finding.

  • Erin Gayton
    2019-02-01 17:33

    Twain made the most out of his memorable character, Colonel Bariah Sellers, from The Gilded Age. Apparently a real Bariah Sellers turned up at some point, so when he resurrected the character for The American Claimant our hero was renamed Mulberry Sellers. This short novel is a useful follow-up to The Connecticut Yankee, continuing the comparison between American and English forms of entitlement.

  • Jarmo Nikander
    2019-02-20 01:11

    The book is hilarious and rather clever. It's a light read and I do recommend it. After reading Twain's 'The Guilded Age', this one felt almost therapeutic. Some of the same characters can be found here, but they are rather blown out of proportion in their ludicrous traits. I bet Twain had fun writing this. I sure did reading it.

  • Laura Antolín
    2019-02-16 22:19

    Sobre esta deliciosa novela escribí un artículo en mi blog, así que no me extenderé. toca pasar a otra lectura aleatoria (si no quiero gastarle las páginas a esta de Mark Twain). Un aplauso para esta colección "Reencuentros" de Navona, rescate de curiosidades.

  • Eric Napier
    2019-01-24 22:06

    No reading has ever made me laugh this much. I normally read to fall asleep, but this kept me up laughing. My opinion is that it's Twain's best work after Huck Finn. Too few people know about this hilarious story.

  • Chris Passingham
    2019-01-24 00:16

    Much, much better than "The Gilded age" Sellars was less irritating and less of a blowhard. He reminds me of the wizard in "The Wizard of Oz" somewhat.

  • Andrew
    2019-02-03 01:30

    Very funny book. Twain is a master at describing eccentrics. Highly recommended...

  • Nerd Wench
    2019-02-09 17:07

    One of Twain's most overlooked and hilariously brilliant novels. I've read this multiple times and every time I laugh until my sides hurt.

  • Will Hickox
    2019-02-21 01:29

    I can't remember when a novel made me laugh so often. Pick up this undeservedly obscure sequel to "The Gilded Age" and you won't be disappointed.