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Cover image for Twain & Stanley enter paradise
Twain & Stanley enter paradise

First edition.
New York : Grand Central Publishing, 2015.
Physical Description:
x, 465 pages ; 24 cm
Author's Note -- Part One -- Dorothy's Question -- The Cabinet Manuscript -- On Twain and Stanley Meeting Again -- Stanley in Love -- Huck Finn in Africa -- His Return -- Their Wedding -- Part Two -- Meeting Mr. Clemens -- With Mr. Twain -- Portraits with Twain -- Twain's Sadness and Other Events -- On Psychics -- Part Three -- Letters 1897-99 -- The Country Life -- Furze Hill, Easter Weekend, 1900 -- Stanley's Later Days -- Clemens in That Time -- The Cabinet Manuscript and Oxford -- Afterword / Lori Marie Carlson-Hijuelos.
Chronicles the sojourn of journalist-explorer Henry Stanley; his wife, the painter Dorothy Tennant; and Mark Twain, Stanley's longtime friend, as they head for Cuba in search of Stanley's father.
Geographic Term:

Electronic Access:
The Roberta S. & Leonard S. Leibman, W'53 Fund Home Page http://hdl.library.upenn.edu/1017.12/1229059


Call Number
Hijuelos, O.

On Order



A New York Times "Editor's Choice" A Vanity Fair "Best Book for History Buffs" An Amazon Best Book of November 2015 A David Baldacci Top Pick for Fall 2015 A Boston Globe Fall 2015 Pick An EW.com Blockbuster Novel Pick One of Newsday 's "20 Best Books to Read this Fall" One of Men's Journal's " 7 Best Books of November"
TWAIN & STANLEY ENTER PARADISE, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Oscar Hijuelos, is a luminous work of fiction inspired by the real-life, 37-year friendship between two towering figures of the late nineteenth century, famed writer and humorist Mark Twain and legendary explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley.
Hijuelos was fascinated by the Twain-Stanley connection and eventually began researching and writing a novel that used the scant historical record of their relationship as a starting point for a more detailed fictional account. It was a labor of love for Hijuelos, who worked on the project for more than ten years, publishing other novels along the way but always returning to Twain and Stanley; indeed, he was still revising the manuscript the day before his sudden passing in 2013.
The resulting novel is a richly woven tapestry of people and events that is unique among the author's works, both in theme and structure. Hijuelos ingeniously blends correspondence, memoir, and third-person omniscience to explore the intersection of these Victorian giants in a long vanished world.
From their early days as journalists in the American West, to their admiration and support of each other's writing, their mutual hatred of slavery, their social life together in the dazzling literary circles of the period, and even a mysterious journey to Cuba to search for Stanley's adoptive father, TWAIN & STANLEY ENTER PARADISE superbly channels two vibrant but very different figures. It is also a study of Twain's complex bond with Mrs. Stanley, the bohemian portrait artist Dorothy Tennant, who introduces Twain and his wife to the world of séances and mediums after the tragic death of their daughter.
A compelling and deeply felt historical fantasia that utilizes the full range of Hijuelos' gifts, TWAIN & STANLEY ENTER PARADISE stands as an unforgettable coda to a brilliant writing career.

Author Notes

Óscar Jerome Hijuelos was born in Manhattan, New York on August 24, 1951 to Cuban immigrant parents. He received a bachelor's degree and a master of fine arts degree from City College. His first novel, Our House in the Last World, was published in 1983 and won the Rome Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His other works include The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien, Mr. Ives' Christmas, Empress of the Splendid Season, A Simple Habana Melody (From When the World was Good), Beautiful Maria of My Soul, Another Spaniard in the Works, and Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise. His novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was made into a 1992 movie starring Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas. He also wrote a young adult novel entitled Dark Dude and a memoir entitled Thoughts Without Cigarettes. In 2000, he received the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature. He died after collapsing with a heart attack while playing tennis on October 12, 2013 at age 62.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

This vividly imagined and detailed epic about two giants of the 19th century is the product of over a decade of work; Hijuelos was still revising the manuscript up until his untimely death in 2013. In his late teens, the author became captivated by Sir Henry Morton Stanley and his extraordinary trajectory from a poverty-stricken Welsh orphan to a world-renowned explorer; Hijuelos also discovered that Stanley had a friendship with Mark Twain. Using third-person narrative, letters, and journal entries (all fabricated), and by bringing in Stanley's wife, the painter Dorothy Tennant, as a foil between the two men, the author brilliantly breathes life into Victorian times. Particular focus is paid to Stanley's early life in America, and an entirely concocted journey he took to Cuba with Twain in search of Stanley's adoptive father and namesake. Stanley, formal and somewhat rigid, though certainly erudite and keen for adventure, contrasts with Twain, the more relaxed and gifted speaker whose humor endeared him to audiences around the world. The author depicts not only the peace of mind the two get from family life, but also their various setbacks-the financial trials beset by Twain and the heartbreaking family deaths he suffered, and the illnesses that plagued Stanley his whole life. Hijuelos's death is made all the more poignant by an observation Stanley makes in an introduction for one of Twain's speaking engagements: "Our literature is our legacy, and if there is such a thing as ghosts, literature will be the only verifiable version of them." How lucky we are to have this rich novel. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Posthumous publication of an ambitious, atypical historical novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. When Hijuelos (The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, 1989, etc.) died of a heart attack in the fall of 2013, he had been working for more than a dozen years on this 19th-century epic concerning the unlikely but close friendship of two of the most famous men in America. They had met working on a riverboat, a couple of aspiring writers, well before one would travel to Africa in search of Dr. Livingstone and the other would become a beloved humorist under the pen name of Mark Twain. Since Hijuelos has long been known for voluptuary narratives of Cuba and Cuban America, filled with song and sex, the Victorian primness of the various tones he employs here stands in stark contrast (though a trip to Cuba proves pivotal). The novel encompasses long stretches of unpublished manuscripts purportedly written by Stanley and his wife, as well as extended correspondence between each of them and Twain. Stanley had been an orphan taken under the wing of a benefactor (whose surname the young man took), and there's a sense throughout that the way Stanley portrays his life is not the way it actually transpired. With Stanley's health and that of Twain's wife in parallel decline, there's a hint of romantic triangle, what Dorothy Stanley calls "some kind of autumnal infatuation," though history left that attraction unrequited, as she remarried shortly after her husband's death. The meditations on time and death in the book's last third are particularly poignant given the author's own untimely passing, but the whole of the novel is unwieldy, with awkward dialogue ("I am wondering what you can tell me about yourself") and juxtapositions (a section titled "Clemens in That Time" follows Lady Stanley's extended account of her husband's death). An Afterword by Hijuelos' widow explains that he was working on the novel up to his death, having written "thousands of pages that he attempted to winnow down to publishable size, even as he continued to expand upon the story." This book is good news for Hijuelos fans, but considering its flaws, it's tantalizing to think of what it would have been like if the author had managed to finish it himself. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Chronicling the friendship between Welsh-born explorer Henry Morton Stanley and beloved American raconteur Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain), Hijuelos' deeply researched final novel was completed just before he died, in 2013. Although this expansive look at the connection between two eminent nineteenth-century men may be a departure from his examinations of the immigrant experience, his gift for evoking his protagonists' rich interior lives is on full display. The novel shows a remarkable fidelity to historical voice. It's told through a combination of formats, including straight narrative, letters, memoir, and diary entries all invented, and convincingly so. Even Stanley's cabinet manuscript about his and Samuel's excursion to Cuba fits with the real man's tendency to blur or exaggerate the truth. From their initial meeting, aboard a Mississippi steamship, then moving through their stints on the lecture circuit, Stanley's relationship with vivacious artist Dorothy Tennant, and their beautifully moving ruminations on mortality in their twilight years, their rapport survives several differences of opinion. Both come to loathe slavery but disagree about religion and the value of imperialism, particularly in Africa. By observing them at many moments of vulnerability, readers gain insights into their makeup. Although the book feels unbalanced in places due to its unusual cobbled-together structure, it's an extraordinary feat of imaginative historical re-creation. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Hijuelos was greatly popular with library readers, and he will be missed by them; and his last novel will garner many reservation requests.--Johnson, Sarah Copyright 2015 Booklist

Library Journal Review

This absorbing and luminous novel by the late Hijuelos, which he was still editing at the time of his death, reimagines the friendship between Mark Twain and British explorer Henry David Stanley. Here, Stanley winds up in New Orleans in the mid-1800s and meets Twain on a riverboat when both are young men. They strike up a friendship based on a mutual love of reading and literature and become closer when they journey together to Cuba directly before the start of the American Civil War to seek out -Stanley's sort-of adoptive father, afterward going their separate ways. The novel focuses more on Stanley, seen here as an interesting and enigmatic character who late in life marries the beautiful, much younger, upper-class Dorothy Tennant, an artist. While Twain endures the unexpected death of his daughter and the long decline of his wife, Livy, Stanley suffers from various maladies contracted in Africa; after his death, his wife publishes his autobiography, parts of which make up the narrative. VERDICT The novel, which contains letters, speeches, fragments of Stanley's autobiography, diary entries, and dialog, all of which Hijuelos evidently created, succeeds in conjuring a bygone era from rural 19th-century Cuba to upper-class London society. Well written and engaging, this novel may lack some of the fire of the author's best-known work, but it is a intriguing entry in his output and will appeal to his fans and those who enjoy historical fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 5/11/15.]- James Coan, SUNY at Oneonta Lib. © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.