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Mark Twain
The frog that jump-started Mark Twain's career
The frog that jump-started Mark Twain's career

In the humble-looking notebook of a luckless prospector staying in a cabin on Jackass Hill near here in California's Gold Country a century and a half ago, there's an entry barely longer than a tweet. "Coleman with his jumping frog — bet stranger $50 — stranger had no frog & C got him one — in the meantime stranger filled C's frog full of shot & he couldn't jump — the stranger's frog won." The passage is, of course, the literary skeleton of what down-on-his-luck Samuel Clemens would transform into literary gold, a wildly improbable story originally called "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog," which introduced much of the...

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