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Happy May 13, National Frog Jumping Day!
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate it than to reprint here the story which started it all, Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. It was his first significant published work and appeared as Jim Smiley and his Jumping Frog in The Saturday Press (a weekly New York literary newspaper) on November 18, 1865. Over the course of several years, as the story was published in other magazines and in anthologies of humorous stories, Twain changed its name back and forth, at one point titling it The Notorious Frog of Calaveras County, sometimes calling the frog’s owner “Jim Smiley,” and sometimes “Jim Greeley.”
The story was immensely popular from the first, and also appeared in several unauthorized versions during Twain’s lifetime. At one point, he discovered it in a French translation and subsequently published a tri-partite volume consisting of the original English version, followed by the French, followed by Twain’s translation of the French back into English, in the course of doing which he retained the original French syntax. And so you get passages like