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The Gilded Age

Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner

Book Overview: 

The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today is a novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner that satirizes greed and political corruption in post-Civil War America. The term gilded age, commonly given to the era, comes from the title of this book. Twain and Warner got the name from Shakespeare's King John (1595): "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily... is wasteful and ridiculous excess." Gilding a lily, which is already beautiful and not in need of further adornment, is excessive and wasteful, characteristics of the age Twain and Warner wrote about in their novel. Another interpretation of the title, of course, is the contrast between an ideal "Golden Age," and a less worthy "Gilded Age," as gilding is only a thin layer of gold over baser metal, so the title now takes on a pejorative meaning as to the novel's time, events and people.

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Book Excerpt: 
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CONTENTS Part 1.   Chapter   I. to   IX. Part 2. Chapter X. to XVIII. Part 3. Chapter XIX.  to XXVII. Part 4. Chapter XXVIII. to XXXVI. Part 5. Chapter XXXVII.   to XLV. Part 6. Chapter XLVI.   to LIV. Part 7. Chapter LV. to LXIII.

THE GILDED AGE A Tale of Today By

Mark Twain
Charles Dudley Warner 1873


CONTENTS Part 1.   Chapter   I. to   IX. . . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is the first book I assigned in my Modern Novels class because it set the stage for the period of self-proclaimed Modernity by exposing the seedy underbelly behind American "Progress." This is also Mark Twain's first novel which is clear because he has not quite mastered narrative and structure

I had always wanted to read this book, thinking it was a different sort of novel, perhaps from the point of the wealthy. Also, I had no idea that The Gilded Age was such a serious work. Oh, Mark Twain's humor comes across frequently, especially in the sections taking place in Washington. Unfortunate

I am a huge fan of those novels that satirize the American business man, and we have had a few masters of this genre within the last couple centuries--one of whom only recently passed away, Evan S. Connell. If you haven't read the Mr. and Mrs. Bridge novels, you must!!! They are masterpieces! I am t

It is not often that one gets to define an age, but that is precisely what Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner did with “The Gilded Age”. As Ward Just points out in his introduction, “The Gilded Age” is “the first (novel about Washington) of consequence in American writing.” The full title of the b

Sigh. I shall ever be smitten by Mark Twain. If I were to have a fantasy dinner party he would definitely be a guest. (Along with Woody Allen) This book shattered any remaining illusions/delusions' I may have held regarding our noble democracy and dedication to ethics and principals in government -

In the United States, the era between the end of the civil war and the late 19th century was characterized by major social changes and rapid economic growth. Behind this facade, however, there were huge social problems and great political corruption. The writers describe this era with intense satiri

“A comprehensive up-to-date textbook on American government. Suitable for use in colleges and high schools.” Professor A. Puff, Racket University.

What's scary is how much the Washington, DC of this 1873 novel has in common with Washington, DC today!

Another treasure discovered at a library buck-a-bag sale. The characters are well drawn, the prose is not turgid...and...not a lot has changed in human affairs in a century and a half.
Sure, it's about politics, corruption, greed, business speculation and credit bubbles, so a main point about readin

In this book Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner heap scathing criticism on the US congress, the justice system , the press and society in general..
It’s a tale of greed, corruption, influence peddling, lobbying, vote buying, seat buying, bribery, blackmail, hypocrisy, etc. etc. In this aspect this

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