Universal Translator

Sunday, 20 October 2013

"Mark Twain Reviews Ambrose Bierce: 'The Laugh Is Too Expensive'"

Ambrose Bierce
Samuel Clemens

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was asked in 1874 by his publisher 
to write a review of the book  Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in California by Dod Grille,  
written by Ambrose Bierce.   The publisher, Chatto & Windus
knew that Bierce and Clemens had known each other since the 1860s, and figured a quotable review by Clemens might boost lagging sales of the book.  They got a review, just not one they expected.  And, needless to say, Clemens and Bierce remained friends.

Farmington Avenue,



"Dod Grile" (Mr. Bierce) is a personal friend of mine, & I like him exceedingly — but he knows my opinion of the "Nuggets & Dust," & so I do not mind exposing it to you. It is the vilest book that exists in print — or very nearly so. If you keep a "reader," it is charity to believe he never really read that book, but framed his verdict upon hearsay.

Bierce has written some admirable things — fugitive pieces — but none of them are among the "Nuggets." There is humor in Dod Grile, but for every laugh that is in his book there are five blushes, ten shudders and a vomit. The laugh is too expensive.

Ys truly

Samuel L. Clemens

(Source: Boston Public Library, via Lettersofnote.com)

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