Mark Twain Publishes "Roughing It"
Roughing It is a book of semi-autobiographical travel literature written by American humorist Mark Twain.
It was written during 1870–71 and published in 1872 as a prequel to his first book Innocents Abroad. This book tells of Twain's adventures prior to his pleasure cruise related in Innocents Abroad.
Roughing It follows the travels of young Mark Twain through the Wild West during the years 1861–1867. After a brief stint as a Confederate cavalry militiaman, he joined his brother Orion Clemens, who had been appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory, on a stagecoach journey west. Twain consulted his brother's diary to refresh his memory and borrowed heavily from his active imagination for many stories in the novel.
Roughing It illustrates many of Twain's early adventures, including a visit to Salt Lake City, gold and silver prospecting, real-estate speculation, and his beginnings as a writer.
In this memoir, readers can see examples of Twain's rough-hewn humor, which would become a staple of his writing in his later books, such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
U.S. astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell read "Roughing It" aloud to pass the time aboard NASA's Gemini VII, a 14-day-long Earth orbital mission in December 1965. Borman recalls reading the book during an on-camera interview in the 1999 PBS-TV (USA) television program "Nova: To the Moon".
Published early in 1872, MT's second major work is about going west to dig for wealth in the rocks of Nevada and ultimately finding it instead as a writer and entertainer. It was written between 1870 and the end of 1871, and based on experiences MT had had (mostly as Samuel Clemens, of course) between 1861 and 1866. In between these two sets of dates, in 1867, the transcontinental railroad was completed, an event which, MT wrote his publisher, "has turned so much attention in that direction" -- that is, to the West. As a travel narrative that keeps going west, the book was written and advertised as a companion to the eastward moving Innocents Abroad. During the long and often difficult period of writing it, MT's mood swung often between discouragement and enthusiasm. Roughing It sold well, though it was never as popular with American readers as Innocents . Its ultimate value to MT may have been to turn his imagination in directions that became, as his career went on, the sources of his greatest power -- that is, to vernacular American experience and toward his own past.