jueves, 6 de diciembre de 2012
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, (1835-1910), born in Florida, Mo., was the son of a Virginian imbued with the frontier spirit and grandiose dreams of easy wealth, who had married in Kentucky and spent the rest of his life in a restless watch for profits from land speculation. The family settled in Hannibal, Mo. (1839), where Samuel grew up under the influence of this attitude, and passsed the adventurous boyhood and youth that he recalls in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. After his father's death (1847), he left school to be apprenticed to a printer, and was soon writing for his brother Orion's newspaper. He was a journeyman printer in the East and Middle West (1853-54), and in 1856 planned to seek his fortune in South America, but gave up this idea to become a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi, a position that he considered the most important discipline of his life. When the Civil War began, the riverboats ceased operation, and, after a brief trial of soldiering with a group of Confederate volunteers, Clemens went to Nevada with his brother, who had been appointed secretary to the governor. In Roughing It he describes the trip west and his subsequent adventures as a miner and journalist. After he joined the staff of the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise (1862) he adopted the pseudonym Mark Twain, by which he was thereafter known, and began his career as a journalistic humorist in the frontier tradition. His articles of the time are collected in Mark Twain of the Enterprise (1957).
During this period he met Artemus Ward and others who encouraged his work, collaborated with Bret Harte in San Francisco, and wrote "The Celebrated Jumping Frog" sketch (1865) which won him immediate recognition. He increased his popularity with letters and lectures about his trip to the Sandwich Islands, went east to lecture, published The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches (1867), and made the tour of the Mediterranean and the Holy Land that he describes in The Innocents Abroad (1869), a humorous narrative that assured his position as a leading author and shows his typical American irreverence for the classic and the antique. In 1870 Clemens married Olivia Langdon, with whom he settled in Hartford, Conn. The effect of this marriage upon his career has been responsible for two divergent interpretations of his work. Mrs. Clemens belonged to a genteel, conservative society, and it has been claimed (mainly by Van Wyck Brooks) that the puritanical and materialistic surroundings into which Clemens was thrust frustrated his potential creative force for fierce revolt and satire. Others (principally Bernard De Voto) posit the idea that Clemens began as a frontier humorist and storyteller, and that his later work shows the unthwarted development of these essential talents.
ln Roughing It (1872) he continues the method of The Innocents Abroad, seasoning the realistic account of adventure with humorous exaggerations in his highly personal idiom. Next he collaborated with C.D. Warner in The Gilded Age (1873), a satirical novel of post-Civil War boom times that gave a name to the era. A Tramp Abroad (1880) is another travel narrative, this time of a walking trip through the Black Forest and the Alps. England during the reign of Edward VI is the scene of The Prince and the Pauper (1882), while A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889) is a realistic-satirical fantasy of Arthurian England. During this period, however, Clemens was dealing with the background of his own early life in what are generally considered the most significant of his characteristically American works. In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) he presents a nostalgic tale of boyish adventure in a Mississippi town and the Valley, and in Life on the Mississippi (1883) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) he celebrates the flowering of Mississippi Valley frontier civilization, in terms of its own pungent tall talk and picaresque adventure.
External events soon interfered with the even flow of Clemens's creative activity. During his residence in Hartford, he had been a partner in the publishing firm of Charles L. Webster and Company, which reaped a fortune through the sale of Grant's Memoirs and Clemens's own writings, but bad publishing ventures and the investment of $200,000 in an unperfected typesetting machine drove him into bankruptcy (1894). To discharge his debts he made a lecturing tour of the world, although he had come to dislike lecturing, and the record of this tour, Following the Equator (1897) has an undercurrent of bitterness not found in his earlier travel books. During this decade, although he wrote The Tragedy of Puddn'nhead Wilson (1894) and the Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), most of his work is uneven in quality, and The American Claimant (1892), Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894) and Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896) are feeble echoes of earlier work. In 1898 he finished paying off his debts, but his writings whow that the strain of pessimism he formerly repressed was now dominating his mind. The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg (1900), What Is Man? (1906) and The Mysterious Stranger (1916) demonstrate this attitude. He continued to travel widely, lectured and wrote articles on contemporary events and such controversial works as Christian Science (1906) and Is Shakespeare Dead? (1909), but his bitterness was deepened by the loss of his wife and two daughters. His pessimism was perhaps no more profound than the opitimism of his own Colonel Sellers, but his feeling that it was too mordant for publication caused him to instruct that certain of his works be published posthumously.
Since 1906 he had been engaged in dictating his autobiography to his secretary, A. B. Paine, who later became the first Literary Editor of the Mark Twain Estate, and issued a collection of Letters (1917), the authorized biography (3 vols., 1912), and the Autobiography (1924). The second editor, Bernard De Voto, edited volumes of materials from the papers left by Clemens, including Letters from the Earth (1963). Drawing on the same sources, the third editor, Dixon Wecter, collected The Love Letters of Mark Twain (1949); and the fourth editor, Henry Nash Smith, edited with William M. Gibson, Mark Twain-Howells Letters (2 vols., 1960). A scholarly edition of his Works began publication by the University of California Press in 1972, which also began issuing (1967) a scholarly edition of his previously unpublished Papers, most of whose originals are in the University's Bancroft Library.
An important early estimate of his work is My Mark Twain: Reminiscences and Criticisms (1910), by his friend and adviser Howells. The prevalent critical attitude has come to consider Clemens's most distinctive work as summing up the tradition of Western humor and frontier realism. Beginning as a journalist, he assumed the method and point of view of popular literature in the U.S., maintaining the personal anecdotal style that he used also in his capacity of comic lecturer. In travel books, he digresses easily from factual narrative to humorous exaggeration and burlesque. The novels are episodic or autobiographical, and not formed by any larger structural concepts. He wrote in the authentic native idiom, exuberantly and irreverently, but underlying the humor was a vigorous desire for social justice and a pervasive equalitarian attitude. The romantic idealism of Joan of Arc, the bitter satire of feudal tyranny in A Connecticut Yankee, the appreciation of human values in Huckleberry Finn, and the sense of epic sweep in Life on the Mississippi establish Clemens's place in American letters as an artist of broad understanding and vital, although uneven and sometimes misdirected, achievement.
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, sketch by Clemens written under his pseudonym Mark Twain, was published in the New York Saturday Press (1865) and reprinted as the title piece of a series of sketches that formed his first book (1867). Although his source was an old folk tale that had been in print in California as early as 1853, Clemens was catapulted into fame by his version, which tells of the jumping frog Dan'l Webster, pet of gambling Jim Smiley, which is defeated when a stranger fills its gullet with quail shot while Smiley's attention is distracted.
The Innocents Abroad; or, The New Pilgrim's Progress, travel narrative by Clemens, published in 1869 under his pseudonym Mark Twain. It is based on letters written during 1867 to the San Francisco Alta California and the NewYork Tribune and Herald, describing the tour of the steamship Quaker City to Europe, Egypt, and the Holy Land. In this autobiographical account, Clemens has an opportunity to ridicule foreign sights and manners from the point of view of the American democrat, who scorns the sophisticated, revels in his own national peculiarities and advantages, and is contemptuously amused by anithing with which he is unacquainted. Characteristic passages are concerned with the comical difficulties of "innocent" tourists, their adventures among deceptive guides, inefficient hotels, and misunderstood customs; a comparison of Lake Como with Lake Tahoe, to the general advantage of the latter; a burlesque account of the ascent of Vesuvius; experiences of various Turkish "frauds"; an awestruck meeting with the Russian royal family; and a naïvely sentimental description of Biblical scenes in Palestine.
Roughing It, autobiographical narrative by Clemens, published in 1872 under his pseudonym Mark Twain. He records a journey from St. Louis across the plains to Nevada, a visit to the Mormons, and life and adventures in Virginia City, San Francisco, and the Sandwich Islands. The book is based on Clemens's own experiences during the 1860s, but but facts are left far behind in his creation of a picture of the frontier spirit and its lusty humor. The entire work is unified by the character of the author and the ways in shich his experiences changed him into a representative of the Far West, but seemingly little attempt is made to integrate the tall tales, vivid descriptions, narratives of adventure, and character sketches, except in so far as all of them constitute a vigorous, many-sided portrait of the Western frontier.
The Gilded Age: A Tale of To-day, novel by Clemens and CD. Warner, published in 1873 but dated 1874. It was dramatized by G.S. Densmore (1874), and Clemens revised the play the same year. The theme is that of unscrupulous individualism in a world of fantastic speculation and unstable values, and the title has become a popular name for the era depicted in the book, the boom times of post-Civil War Years, when unbridled acquisitiveness dominated the national life.
"Squire" Si Hawkins moves, with his wife and family, from Tennessee to a primitive Missouri settlement, the current speculative project of his visionary friend, Colonel Beriah Sellers. During the journey, Hawkins adopts two unrelated orphans, Clay and Laura. Ten years pass, Sellers's optimism cost Hawkins several fortunes, and the children grow in constant expectation of great walth. When the Squire dies, his family moves to Sellers's new promotion center, Hawkeye, where Laura is attracted by a philanderer, Colonel Selby, who abandons her after a mock-marriage. Hary Brierly, a New York engineer, collaborates with Sellers in a railroad land speculation scheme, which fails, bankrupting them. Brierly falls in love with Laura at this time, but Larua, hardened by her experience, considers her a mere tool for her advancement. Her beauty impresses Senator Dilworthy, who invites her and her foster brother to Washington, and there they and Sellers are involved in the intrigues and financial deals of the unscrupulous senator. When Selby reappears, Laura resumes her liaison with him, later murdering him when he attempts to desert her again. She is acquitted after a spectacular court trial, but dies of a heart attack when her career as a lecturer is a failure. A subplot is concerned with the love affair fo Philip Sterling, a friend of Brierly, with Ruth Bolton, a Quaker girl, who takes up a medical career but finally marries him after he successfully exploits her father's coal-mining enterprise.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, novel by Clemens, publised in 1876 under his pseudonym Mark Twain. Its classic sequel, Huckleberry Finn, was followed by the relatively unimportant Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective.
In the drowsy Mississippi River town of St. Petersburg, Mo., Tom Sawyer, imaginative and mischievous, and his priggish brother Sid live with their simple, kind-hearted aunt Polly. Sid "peaches" on Tom for playing hooky, and Tom is punished by making to whitewash a fence, but ingeniously leads his friends to do this job for him by pretending it is a privilege. When his sweenheart, Becky Thatcher, is angered because Tom reveals that he has previously been in love, he forsakes a temporary effort at virtue, plays hooky, and decides to become a pirate or a Robin Hood. With his boon companion, Huck Finn, a good-natured, irresponsible river rat, Tom goes to a graveyard at midnight to swing a dead cat, an act advised by Huck as a cure for warts. They watch Injun Joe, a half-breed criminal, stab the town doctor to death and place the knife in the hands of drunken Muff Potter. After being further scolded by Aunt Polly, and further spurned by Becky, Tom, with Huck and Joe Harper, another good friend, hides on nearby Jackson's Island. Their friends believe them drowned, but their funeral service is interrpted by the discovery of the "corpses," who are listening from the church gallery. Tom returns to school, is reconciled with Becky and his aunt, and becomes a hero at the trial of Muff Potter, when he reveals Injun Joe's guilt. Tom and Becky attend a school picnic, and are lost for several days in a cave, where Tom spies Injun Joe. Later the half-breed is found dead, and his treasure is divided between Tom and Huck, after which the latter is adopted by the Widow Douglas. His only consolation, since he has surrendered his state of unwashed happiness, lies in Tom's promise to admit him to his robber gant on the strength of his social standing.
A Tramp Abroad, travel narrative by Clemens, published in 1880 under his pseudonym Mark Twain. It is a record of his European tour (1878) with Joseph H. Twichell, whom he calls "Harris," and describes their adventures in Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, chiefly during a walking tour through the Black Forest and the Alps. Besides the serious, journalistic account of European natural beauties, society, folklore, and history, including enthusiastic descriptions of Alpine scenery that do not fail to praise comparable descriptions in the US., there are passages ranging from crude face to tall tales and typical satire. Thus a retelling of Whymper's conquest of the Matterhorn is complemented by the author's "ascent of Mont Blanc by telescope," and a description of ravens in the Black Forest prompts him to recount "Baker's Blue-Jay Yarn," concerned with the sense of humour of California jays. Characteristic humor also appears in Clemns's inept drawings, purportedly the work of an art studient, and the satirical passages on subjets alien to the average American, such as "the awful German language," Wagnerian opra, and "The Great French Duel."
The Prince and the Pauper, novel by Clemens, published in 1882 under his pseudonym Mark Twain. Designed to be a children's book, it shows an essentially adult point of view in its attacks on the social evils of Tudor England.
Prince Edward (later Edward VI) discovers Tom Canty, pauper boy, to be his exact twin in appearance. When they exchange clothes, the prince is by error driven from the court, and the pauper is forced to act the part of royalty. Edward finds Tom's family, is mistreated, and runs away with Sir Miles Hendon, a disinherited knight, who takes pity on him, thinking his assertions of royal birth a sign of madness. In their wanderings, the prince sees the cruelty of church and court towards the poor, and learns the suffering of his people through such dramatic incidents as the burning of two women whose only crime is that of being Baptists. Tom meanwhile is also thought unbalanced because of his peculiar behavior; becoming accustomed to his situation, however, he attempts to act the part of the real prince. On the morning of his coronation, Edward gets to Westminster Abbey and proves his idenitity by revealing the hiding place of the Great Seal, which Tom did not recognize after having taken it to crack some nuts. During his brief reign, Edward tempers the harshness of the law with a sense of justice, learned during his contact with the common people.
Life on the Mississippi, autobiographical narrative by Clemens, published under his pseudonym Mark Twain (1883). The book opens with a brief history of the Mississippi river since its discovery, and Chapters 4 to 22 deal with Clemens's life as a boy on the river. These chapters, originally published in the Atlantic Monthly, give a vivid account of his participation in the steamboat age, the science of steamboat piloting, and the life of the river as seen by the pilot. Chapter 3 also contains a lively passage written for Huckleberry Finn but never used in the novel. The second part of the book, written some seven years after the first, is an account of Clemens's return to the river as a traveler, 21 years after he had been a pilot. During his trip from St. Louis to New Orleans, he finds that the glamour of the river has been destroyed by railroad competition. Interspersed with his description of the river, his accounts of meeting Cable and Joel Chandler Harris, and Horace Bixby, who first taught him piloting, are anecdotes of the past, and a vigorous attack on Scott's romanticism and its effect on Southern thought. The second part of the book lacks the unity of the first, has none of its verve and gusto, and is more descriptive and reminiscent.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, novel by Clemens, written under his pseudonym Mark Twain. A sequel to Tom Sawyer, it was begun in 1876 and published in 1884, omitting the chapter included in Life on the Mississippi. Although it carries on the picaresque story of the characters in Tom Sawyer, the sequel is a more accomplished and a more serious work of art as well as a keener realistic portrayal of regional character and frontier experience on the Mississippi.
Narrated by Huck, the sequel begins with its unschooled hero under the motherly protection of the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson. When his blackguard father appears to demand the boy's fortune, Huck tricks him by transferring the money to Judge Thatcher, but his father kidnaps him and imprisons him in a lonely cabin During one of the old man's drunken spells, Huck escapes to Jackson's Isalnd, where he meets Miss Watson's runaway slave, Jim. They start down the river in a raft, but, after several adventures, the raft is hit by a steamboat and the two are separated. Huck swims ashore, and is sheltered by the Grangerford family, whose feud with the Shepherdsons causes bloodshed. The boy discovers Jim, and they set out again on the raft, giving refuge to the "Duke of Bridgewater," itinerant printer and fraud, and the "Dauphin," "Louis XVIII of France," actor, evangelist, and temperance faker. At stopping places, the "King" lectures as a reformed pirate, and they present, as "Kean" and "Garrick," dramatic performances culminating in the fraudulent exhibition of the "Royal Nonesuch." Huck witnesses the murder of a harmless drunkard by an Arkansas aristocrat, whose contempt discourages a mob of would-be lynchers. The rogues learn of the death of Peter Wilks and claim legacies as his brothers. Huck interferes in behalf of the three daughters, and the scheme is foiled by the arrival of the real brothers. Then he discovers that the "King" has sold Jim to Mrs. Phelps, Tom Sawyer's Aunt Sally, and at the Phelps farm he impersonates Tom in an attempt to rescue Jim. When Tom arrives, he masqureades as his brother Sid, and concocts a fantastic scheme to free Jim. In the "mixed-up and splendid rescue," Tom is accidentally shot, and the slave is recaptured. While Tom is recuperating he reveals that Miss Watson has died, setting Jim free in her will, and that the rescue was necessary because he "wanted the adventure of it." It is also disclosed that Huck's fortune is safe, since his father is dead, but he concludes: "I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me, and sivilize me, and I can't standi it. I been there before."
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), realistic-satirical fantasy of Arthurian England by Clemens under his pseudonym Mark Twain.
An ingenious Yankee mechanic, knocked unconscious in a fight, awakens to find himself at Camelot in A.D. 528. Imprisoned by Sir Kay the Seneschal and exhibited before the knights of the Roud Table, he is condemned to death, but saves himself by posing as a magician like Merlin, correctly predicting an eclipse, and becoming minister to King Arthur. He increases his power by applying 19th-century knowledge of gun-powder, electricity, and industrial methods; but when he attempts to better the condition of the peasantry he meets opposition from the church, the knights, Merlin, and the sorceress Morgan le Fay. He accompanies the king in disguise on an expedition among the common people, and when they are captured, they are rescued by the Yankee's trained troop of 500 knights on bicycles. His daughter Hello-Central becomes ill, and with his wife Alisande (Sandy) he takes her to France. Back in England, he finds his work undone, Arthur killed, the land in civil war. Gathrring friends in a cave with modern armed defenses, he declares a republic, fights off an attack, but is wounded. Merlin, pretending to nurse him, puts him asleep until the 19th century.
Tom Sawyer Abroad, short novel by Clemens, published in 1894 under his pseudonym Mark Twain.
As a sequel to "all them adventures" in the book bearing his name, Huck Finn tells of further exploits with Tom Sawyer and Jim, the former slave, in a story that concerns a balloon voyage to the Sahara and Near East, involving a mid-Atlantic storm, encounters with Bedouins and wild lions, and a final takeoff for the return home from Mt. Sinai. Tom's romancing and knowlede, Huck's common sense, and Jim's superstitions are revealed by various incidents.
Tom Sawyer, Detective, story by Clemens, published in 1896 under his pseudonym Mark Twain.
As a final sequel to previous adventures, Huck Finn tells of the remarkable way in which Tom Saywer solves an intricate mystery involving a diamond robbery and a false accusation of murder made against his uncle Silas, as well as a case of mistaken identity between a real and a supposed corpse.
The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, novel by Clemens, published in 1894 under the pseudonym Mark Twain. It was dramatized by Frank Mayo (1895).
On the Mississippi during the 1830s, at Dawson's Landing, Mo., lives Percy Driscoll, a prosperous slave owner. On the day his son Tom is born, his nearly white slave Roxy gives birth to a son, Chambers, whose father is a Virginia gentleman. Since Tom's mother dies when he is only a week old, he is raised by Roxy along with Chambers, whose twin he is in appearance. Roxy, fearful that hr son may some day be sold down the river, changes the two children, and upon the death of Percy, his brother Judge Driscoll adopts Chambers, believing him to be Tom. The boy grows up a coward, a snob, and a gambler. Even though Roxy tells him that she is his mother, he sells her to pay his gambling debts. On escaping, she blackmails him. To obtain money he robs the judge and murders him with a knife stolen from Luigi, one of a pair of Italian twins with whom the judge once fought a duel. The evidence is against the twins, who are defended by David Wilson, an unsuccessful lawyer, whose "tragedy" consists in the ridicule that has resulted from his eccentric originality and iconoclasm; his humor and his interest in palmistry and fingerprints cause the people of Dawson's Landing to call him "Pudd'nhead." Wilson feels secure in his case for the twins, since the fingerprints on the knife are not those of the accused. One day he acquires the fingerprints of the spurious Tom, and with this evidence he is able to vindicate his methods, and to win at last the admiration of his fellow townsmen, by saving the twins and convicting Chambers, who is sold down the river while the real Tom is restored to his rightful position.
Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, fictional biography by Clemens, published in 1896. To conceal his authorhsp, so that the book might be received without bias, Clemens invented "The Sieur Louis de Conte," Joan's supposed "page and secretary," whose work is "freely translated by Jean-François Alden." The biography follows the known facts in the life of the 15th-century French heroine but amplifies them with several fictional characters and interprets such documents as those relating to the ecclesiastical trial at Rouen in the light of Clemens's lifelong idealistic reverence for "the noble child, the most innocent, the most lovely, the most adorable the ages have produced." Her traits have been said to resemble those of women in the author's family. Other figures, like the comically boastful Paladin and laughing Noël Rainguesson, are related to characters in his earlier fiction. In general, the mood is that of serious, although romanticized, history, but there are characteristic Clemens touches in the use of European folklore, humor, and American tall talk.
Following the Equator, autobiographical narrative by Clemens, published in 1897 under his pseudonym Mak Twain. Describing the Australian section of his lecture tour around the world (1895) he works up, in a rather pedestrian way, second-hand materials concerning the aborigines, early settlers, and local animals. Although there are witty interludes, vivid accounts such as the one of the Sepoy Mutiny, and satirical disquisitions on the Boer War and imperialistic morality, the book ahs little of the inspiration that distinguishes Clemens's other travel accounts. In India, he is oppressed by the overpopulation, superstition, plagues, famines, and disasters, and by the disillusioned society resigned to the constant repetition of barren and meaningless processes, which foreshadoews the pessimism of the books he wroter in 1898.
The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, story by Clemens, published under his pseudonym Mark Twain as the title piece of a collection of essays and fiction (1900).
Hadleyburg is proud of its disctinction as "the most honest and upright town in the region round about." A stranger, offended in some way by its people, decides to ruin its reputation. He leaves a sack with bank cashier Edward Richards that he says contains a fortune in coins, and a note announcing that the money is to go to a townsman who once befriended him, and who can be identified by a remark he made, which is written on an enclosed paper. Nineteen of Hadleyburg's leading men then receive notes pretending to divulge the remark. Scruples dissolve under this temptation, and even the hitherto honest Ricaahrds begins to think he may have made the remark. At a town meeting, 18 of the citizens are exposed to ridicule, when the Rev. Mr. Burgess reads the note setting forth their claimes to the remark. Burgess has lost Richard's note, and the cashier becomes a hero. The victims pay an enormous sum to avoid having their names recorded on the lead slugs that prove to be the sole contents of the sack, and this amount is given to Richards as a reward for his supposed identity. Conscience destroys the health of the old man and his wife, who in their dying delirium expose their guilt; thus "the town was stripped of the last rag of its ancient glory."
What Is Man?, essay by Clemens based on his paper, "What Is Happiness?," delivered before the Monday Evening Club of Hartford (Feb. 1883), rewritten (1898), privately published without the author's name (1906), and posthumously collected in What Is Man? And Other Essays (1917).
In this Platonic dialogue between a Young Man and a disillusioned Old Man, the mouthpiece of the author's pessimistic view of mankind, the Old Man considers human beings to be merely mechanisms, lacking free will, motivated selfishly by a need for self-approval, and completely the products of their environment. In an "Admonition to the Human Race," he pleads for the rising of ideals of conduct to a point where the individual's satisfaction will coincide with the best interests of the community.
The Mysterious Stranger, story by Clemens, posthumously published in 1916. It was edited from various manuscripts by A.B. Paine. A new edition (1969) based on a final manuscript and titled No.44, The Mysterious Stranger, shows that Paine had silently deleted about one-quarter of Mark Twain's text, created a new character (The Astrologer), alterd the names of other characters, and conflated three manuscript drafts to create his own version.
The Paine version is set in the medieval Austrian village of Eseldorf, where a mysterious stranger visits young Theodor Fischer and his friends Nikolaus and Seppi. He is discovered to be Satan, and sshows his power by building a miniature castle that he peoples with clay creatures, destroying them almost as soon as he brings them to life. He then exerts his power on the villagers, and, when Father Peter is falsely accused of theft by the Astrologer and Father Adolf, he confounds the evil and makes the innocent crazy, since he says earthly happiness is restricted to the mad. Other "kindness" includes the drowning of Nikoaus, who would otherwise live as a cripple. His total indifference to mankind and its conceptions of good and evil shocks the boys' natural moral sense, yet Satan shows that from this moral sense came wars, tortures, and inequalities. Finally he departs, and Theodor realizes that this was a dream, as false as a morality, and as illogical as a God who tortured men yet commanded them to worship Him.
The version first published in 1969 is also set in Eseldorf. To it in 1490, not long after the invention of moveable type, comes a likable young printer's devil, called only No. 44, who is actually possessed of satanic powers that allow him to master the craft of printing in a few hours. Single-handedly he speedily produces a Bible and magically summons up phantasmagoric people to print inumerable copies. He enjoys playing tricks on the town's magician and on the cruel, hypocritical Father Adolf, while he also travels back and forth in space and time between 19th-century U.S. and medieval Europe. The story of his activities, both diabolical and whimsical, is told by his 17th-year-old friend August Feldner, a curious person with a split personality. August's doppelgänger or "Dream-Self," named Emil Schwarz, has powers like those of No. 44, and is caught up in similar adventures and activities. The fanciful tale compunded of burlesque and satire concludes with the revelation of No. 44 to August that "Life itself is only a vision, a dream . . . ," the creation of "a God . . who moulds morals . . . and has none himself . . . who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones."