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Mark Twain

Reading Mark Twain on Australia in the 1890s is a bit like watching Shane Warne bowl these days: you sense the playing up to the audience and an undignified element of hustle; a tendency to rely on the old tricks to fill the space and manufacture the laughs/wickets. And yet there’s no doubting the copiousness of the art, no resisting the tarnished genius on display. Sure, it would be nice to have more of the early Twain’s concentrated wit, and less reliance on showmanship, but to unwish this account of his antipodean travels would be aesthetically, emotionally, even morally wrong.

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