The Gilded Age; a Tale of Today

Contents:
Author: Mark Twain

Preface

This book was not written for private circulation among friends; it was not written to cheer and instruct a diseased relative of the author’s; it was not thrown off during intervals of wearing labor to amuse an idle hour. It was not written for any of these reasons, and therefore it is submitted without the usual apologies.

It will be seen that it deals with an entirely ideal state of society; and the chief embarrassment of the writers in this realm of the imagination has been the want of illustrative examples. In a State where there is no fever of speculation, no inflamed desire for sudden wealth, where the poor are all simple-minded and contented, and the rich are all honest and generous, where society is in a condition of primitive purity and politics is the occupation of only the capable and the patriotic, there are necessarily no materials for such a history as we have constructed out of an ideal commonwealth.

No apology is needed for following the learned custom of placing attractive scraps of literature at the heads of our chapters. It has been truly observed by Wagner that such headings, with their vague suggestions of the matter which is to follow them, pleasantly inflame the reader’s interest without wholly satisfying his curiosity, and we will hope that it may be found to be so in the present case.

Our quotations are set in a vast number of tongues; this is done for the reason that very few foreign nations among whom the book will circulate can read in any language but their own; whereas we do not write for a particular class or sect or nation, but to take in the whole world.

We do not object to criticism; and we do not expect that the critic will read the book before writing a notice of it: We do not even expect the reviewer of the book will say that he has not read it. No, we have no anticipations of anything unusual in this age of criticism. But if the Jupiter, Who passes his opinion on the novel, ever happens to peruse it in some weary moment of his subsequent life, we hope that he will not be the victim of a remorse bitter but too late.

One word more. This is—what it pretends to be a joint production, in the conception of the story, the exposition of the characters, and in its literal composition. There is scarcely a chapter that does not bear the marks of the two writers of the book. S. L. C.
C. D. W.

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Chicago: Mark Twain, "Preface," The Gilded Age; a Tale of Today, ed. Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934 and trans. Townsend, R.S. in The Gilded Age; a Tale of Today (New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1916), Original Sources, accessed March 2, 2021, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=QWJ2VXF72BPJZL9.

MLA: Twain, Mark. "Preface." The Gilded Age; a Tale of Today, edited by Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934, and translated by Townsend, R.S., in The Gilded Age; a Tale of Today, Vol. 22, New York, A. L. Burt Company, 1916, Original Sources. 2 Mar. 2021. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=QWJ2VXF72BPJZL9.

Harvard: Twain, M, 'Preface' in The Gilded Age; a Tale of Today, ed. and trans. . cited in 1916, The Gilded Age; a Tale of Today, A. L. Burt Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 2 March 2021, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=QWJ2VXF72BPJZL9.