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About Mark Twain. Mark Twain.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain , was an American author and humorist. He apprenticed with a printer. He also work Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain , was an American author and humorist. If it were a record of a solemn scientific expedition it would have about it the gravity, that profundity, and that impressive incomprehensibility which are so proper to works of that kind, and withal so attractive.
Yet not withstanding it is only a record of a picnic, it has a purpose, which is, to suggest to the reader how he would be likely to see Europe and the East if he looked at them with his own eyes instead of the eyes of those who traveled in those countries before him. In , Twain published a second piece of travel literature, Roughing It , as a semi-sequel to Innocents. Roughing It is a semi-autobiographical account of Twain's journey to Nevada and his subsequent life in the American West. The book lampoons American and Western society in the same way that Innocents critiqued the various countries of Europe and the Middle East.
Twain's next work kept Roughing It' s focus on American society but focused more on the events of the day. Entitled A Tale of Today , it was not a travel piece, as his previous two books had been, and it was his first attempt at writing a novel. The book is also notable because it is Twain's only collaboration; it was written with his neighbor Charles Dudley Warner. Twain's next two works drew on his experiences on the Mississippi River.
Old Times eventually became the starting point for Life on the Mississippi. The book also introduced in a supporting role Huckleberry Finn, based on Twain's boyhood friend Tom Blankenship. The Prince and the Pauper , despite a storyline that is omnipresent in film and literature today, was not as well received. Telling the story of two boys born on the same day who are physically identical, the book acts as a social commentary as the prince and pauper switch places.
Pauper was Twain's first attempt at fiction, and blame for its shortcomings is usually put on Twain for having not been experienced enough in English society, and also on the fact that it was produced after a massive hit. In between the writing of Pauper, Twain had started Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which he consistently had problems completing and started and completed another travel book, A Tramp Abroad , which follows Twain as he traveled through central and southern Europe. Twain's next major published work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , solidified him as a noteworthy American writer.
Some have called it the first Great American Novel, and the book has become required reading in many schools throughout the United States. Huckleberry Finn was an offshoot from Tom Sawyer and had a more serious tone than its predecessor. The main premise behind Huckleberry Finn is the young boy's belief in the right thing to do though most believed that it was wrong. Four hundred manuscript pages of Huckleberry Finn were written in mid, right after the publication of Tom Sawyer. Some accounts have Twain taking seven years off after his first burst of creativity, eventually finishing the book in Other accounts have Twain working on Huckleberry Finn in tandem with The Prince and the Pauper and other works in and other years.
The last fifth of Huckleberry Finn is subject to much controversy. Some say that Twain experienced, as critic Leo Marx puts it, a "failure of nerve". Ernest Hemingway once said of Huckleberry Finn : If you read it, you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating. Hemingway also wrote in the same essay: All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Near the completion of Huckleberry Finn, Twain wrote Life on the Mississippi, which is said to have heavily influenced the former book. The work recounts Twain's memories and new experiences after a year absence from the Mississippi. Later writing After his great work, Twain began turning to his business endeavors to keep them afloat and to stave off the increasing difficulties he had been having from his writing projects.
Twain focused on President Ulysses S. This piece detailed his two-week stint in a Confederate militia during the Civil War. The name of his publishing company was Charles L. Webster, his nephew by marriage. Twain next focused on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court , which featured him making his first big pronouncement of disappointment with politics. Written with the same "historical fiction" style of The Prince and the Pauper , A Connecticut Yankee showed the absurdities of political and social norms by setting them in the court of King Arthur.
The book was started in December , then shelved a few months later until the summer of , and eventually finished in the spring of Twain had begun to furiously write articles and commentary with diminishing returns to pay the bills and keep his business projects afloat, but it was not enough. He filed for bankruptcy in His next large-scale work, Pudd'nhead Wilson , was written rapidly, as Twain was desperately trying to stave off the bankruptcy. From November 12 to December 14, , Twain wrote 60, words for the novel. Critics have pointed to this rushed completion as the cause of the novel's rough organization and constant disruption of continuous plot.
There were parallels between this work and Twain's financial failings, notably his desire to escape his current constraints and become a different person. Like The Prince and the Pauper , this novel also contains the tale of two boys born on the same day who switch positions in life. Considering the circumstances of Twain's birth and Halley's Comet, and his strong belief in the paranormal, it is not surprising that these "mystic" connections recur throughout his writing. The actual title is not clearly established.
It was first published serially in Century Magazine , and when it was finally published in book form, Pudd'nhead Wilson appeared as the main title; however, the disputed "subtitles" make the entire title read: The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson and the Comedy of The Extraordinary Twins. Twain's next venture was a work of straight fiction that he called Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc and dedicated to his wife.
Twain had long said that this was the work of which he was most proud, despite the criticism he received for it. The book had been a dream of his since childhood; he claimed that he had found a manuscript detailing the life of Joan of Arc when he was an adolescent. This was another piece which Twain was convinced would save his publishing company.
His financial adviser, Henry Huttleston Rogers, squashed that idea and got Twain out of that business altogether, but the book was published nonetheless. During this time of dire financial straits, Twain published several literary reviews in newspapers to help make ends meet. He became an extremely outspoken critic not only of other authors, but also of other critics, suggesting that before praising Cooper's work, Professors Loundsbury, Brander Matthes, and Wilkie Collins "ought to have read some of it".
Other authors to fall under Twain's attack during this time period beginning around until his death were George Eliot, Jane Austen, and Robert Louis Stevenson. In addition to providing a source for the "tooth and claw" style of literary criticism, Twain outlines in several letters and essays what he considers to be "quality writing". He places emphasis on concision, utility of word choice, and realism he complains that Cooper's Deerslayer purports to be realistic but has several shortcomings. Ironically, several of his works were later criticized for lack of continuity Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and organization Pudd'nhead Wilson.
Twain's wife died in while the couple were staying at the Villa di Quarto in Florence, and after an appropriate time Twain allowed himself to publish some works that his wife, a de facto editor and censor throughout his life, had looked down upon. Of these works, The Mysterious Stranger , depicting various visits of Satan to the Earth, is perhaps the best known. This particular work was not published in Twain's lifetime. There were three versions found in his manuscripts made between and the Hannibal, Eseldorf, and Print Shop versions.
Confusion between the versions led to an extensive publication of a jumbled version, and only recently have the original versions as Twain wrote them become available. Twain's last work was his autobiography, which he dictated and thought would be most entertaining if he went off on whims and tangents in non-chronological order. Some archivists and compilers have rearranged the biography into more conventional forms, thereby eliminating some of Twain's humor and the flow of the book. The first volume of autobiography is to be published by the University of California in November , years after his death as Twain wished.
Friendship with Henry H. Rogers, a Standard Oil executive, with saving him from financial ruin, their close friendship in their later years was mutually beneficial. When Twain lost three of his four children and his beloved wife, the Rogers family increasingly became a surrogate family for him. He became a frequent guest at their townhouse in New York City, their room summer home in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and aboard their steam yacht, the Kanawha. The two men introduced each other to their acquaintances.
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Twain was an admirer of the remarkable deafblind girl Helen Keller. Twain introduced them to Rogers, who, with his wife, paid for Keller's education at Radcliffe College. Twain is credited with labeling Sullivan, Keller's governess and companion, a "miracle worker".
His choice of words later became inspiration for the title of William Gibson's play and film adaptation, The Miracle Worker. Twain also introduced Rogers to journalist Ida M. Tarbell, who interviewed the robber baron for a muckraking expose that led indirectly to the breakup of the Standard Oil Trust. Washington, the famed former slave who had become a leading educator.
While the two famous old men were widely regarded as drinking and poker buddies, they also exchanged letters when apart, and this was often since each traveled a great deal. Unlike Rogers' personal files, which have never become public, these insightful letters were published. The written exchanges between the two men demonstrate Twain's well-known sense of humor and, more surprisingly, Rogers' sense of fun, providing a rare insight into the private side of the robber baron.
Twain's public popularity was such that many fans took boats out to the Kanawha at anchor in hopes of getting a glimpse of him. As the gathering of boats around the yacht became a safety hazard, he finally obliged by coming on deck and waving to the crowds. Because of poor weather conditions, the steam yacht was delayed for several days from venturing into the Atlantic Ocean. Rogers and some of the others in his party returned to New York by rail; Twain disliked train travel and so elected to wait and return on the Kanawha.
However, reporters lost track of his whereabouts; when he failed to return to New York City as scheduled, The New York Times speculated that he might have been "lost at sea". Upon arriving safely in New York and learning of this, the humorist wrote a satirical article about the episode, offering to " If there is any foundation for the report, I will at once apprise the anxious public".
This bore similarities to an earlier event in when he made his famous remark "The report of my death was an exaggeration", after a reporter was sent to investigate whether he had died. In fact, it was his cousin who was seriously ill. Later that year, Twain and Rogers's son, Henry Jr. The humorist helped host Robert Fulton Day on September 23, , celebrating the centennial of Fulton's invention of the steamboat.
Twain, filling in for ailing former U. Twain was met with a five-minute standing ovation; members of the audience cheered and waved their hats and umbrellas. Deeply touched, Twain said, "When you appeal to my head, I don't feel it; but when you appeal to my heart, I do feel it".
In April , the two old friends returned to Norfolk, Virginia for the banquet in honor of Rogers and his newly completed Virginian Railway. Twain was the keynote speaker in one of his last public appearances, and was widely quoted in newspapers across the country. Twain arrived at Grand Central Station to be met by his daughter with the news. Stricken with grief, he uncustomarily avoided news reporters who had gathered, saying only "This is terrible I cannot talk about it". Two days later, he served as an honorary pallbearer at the funeral in New York City. However, he declined to join the funeral party on the train ride for the interment at Fairhaven.
Las Aventuras de Tom Sawyer (Spanish Edition) (2016, Paperback)
He said "I cannot bear to travel with my friend and not converse". He acknowledged that his views changed and developed over his life, referring to one of his favorite works: In the New York Herald , October 15, , he describes his transformation and political awakening, in the context of the Philippine-American War, from being "a red-hot imperialist": Before Twain was an ardent imperialist.
In the late s and early s he spoke out strongly in favor of American interests in the Hawaiian Islands. In the mid s he explained later, he was "a red-hot imperialist. I wanted the Americaneagle to go screaming over the Pacific. In he reversed course, and from , soon after his return from Europe, until his death in , Twain was vice-president of the American Anti-Imperialist League, which opposed the annexation of the Philippines by the United States and had "tens of thousands of members".
He wrote many political pamphlets for the organization. The Incident in the Philippines , posthumously published in , was in response to the Moro Crater Massacre, in which six hundred Moros were killed. Many of his neglected and previously uncollected writings on anti-imperialism appeared for the first time in book form in Twain was critical of imperialism in other countries as well.
In Following the Equator , Twain expresses "hatred and condemnation of imperialism of all stripes". King Leopold's Soliloquy is a stinging political satire about his private colony, the Congo Free State. Reports of outrageous exploitation and grotesque abuses led to widespread international protest in the early s, arguably the first large-scale human rights movement. In the soliloquy, the King argues that bringing Christianity to the country outweighs a little starvation. Leopold's rubber gatherers were tortured, maimed and slaughtered until the turn of the century, when the conscience of the Western world forced Brussels to call a halt.
During the Philippine-American War, Twain wrote a short pacifist story entitled The War Prayer , which makes the point that humanism and Christianity's preaching of love are incompatible with the conduct of war.
It was submitted to Harper's Bazaar for publication, but on March 22, the magazine rejected the story as "not quite suited to a woman's magazine". Eight days later, Twain wrote to his friend Daniel Carter Beard, to whom he had read the story, "I don't think the prayer will be published in my time. None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth".
It was republished as campaigning material by Vietnam War protesters. Twain acknowledged he originally sympathized with the more moderate Girondins of the French Revolution and then shifted his sympathies to the more radical Sansculottes, indeed identifying as "a Marat". Twain supported the revolutionaries in Russia against the reformists, arguing that the Tsar must be got rid of, by violent means, because peaceful ones would not work. Mark Twain was a staunch supporter of women's rights and an active campaigner for women's suffrage.
His "Votes for Women" speech, in which he pressed for the granting of voting rights to women, is considered one of the most famous in history. Twain's liberal views on race were not shown in his early sketches of Native Americans. Cooper thinks they are marvelous creatures for noticing, but he was almost always in error about his Indians.
There was seldom a sane one among them". In his later travelogue Following the Equator , Twain observes that in colonized lands all over the world, "savages" have always been wronged by "whites" in the most merciless ways, such as "robbery, humiliation, and slow, slow murder, through poverty and the white man's whiskey"; his conclusion is that "there are many humorous things in this world; among them the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages". Twain wrote glowingly about unions in the riverboating industry in Life on the Mississippi , which was read in union halls decades later.
He supported the labor movement, especially one of the most important unions, the Knights of Labor. In a speech to them, he said: Who are the oppressors? The few: the King, the capitalist, and a handful of other overseers and superintendents. Who are the oppressed? The many: the nations of the earth; the valuable personages; the workers; they that make the bread that the soft-handed and idle eat.
Twain was opposed to vivisection of any kind, not on a scientific basis but rather an ethical one. I am not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn't. The pain which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further. Although Twain was a Presbyterian, he was sometimes critical of organized religion and certain elements of Christianity through his later life.
He wrote, for example, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so", and "If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be — a Christian". Nonetheless, as a mature adult he engaged in religious discussions and attended services, his theology developing as he wrestled with the deaths of loved ones and his own mortality. His more inflammatory work on religion require a nuanced understanding. Twain generally avoided publishing his most heretical opinions on religion in his lifetime, and they are known from essays and stories that were published later.
In the essay Three Statements of the Eighties in the s, Twain stated that he believed in an almighty God, but not in any messages, revelations, holy scriptures such as the Bible, Providence, or retribution in the afterlife. He did state that "the goodness, the justice, and the mercy of God are manifested in His works", but also that "the universe is governed by strict and immutable laws", which determine "small matters" such as who dies in a pestilence. At other times he wrote or spoke in ways that contradicted a strict deist view, for example, plainly professing a belief in Providence.
In some later writings in the s, he was less optimistic about the goodness of God, observing that "if our Maker is all-powerful for good or evil, He is not in His right mind". At other times, he conjectured sardonically that perhaps God had created the world with all its tortures for some purpose of His own, but was otherwise indifferent to humanity, which was too petty and insignificant to deserve His attention anyway.
In Twain criticized the actions of missionary Dr.
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William Scott Ament — because Ament and other missionaries had collected indemnities from Chinese subjects in the aftermath of the Boxer Uprising of After his death, Twain's family suppressed some of his work which was especially irreverent toward conventional religion, notably Letters from the Earth , which was not published until his daughter Clara reversed her position in in response to Soviet propaganda about the withholding. The anti-religious The Mysterious Stranger was published in Little Bessie , a story ridiculing Christianity, was first published in the collection Mark Twain's Fables of Man.
Despite these views, he raised money to build a Presbyterian Church in Nevada in , although it has been argued that it was only by his association with his Presbyterian brother that he did that. Twain created a reverent portrayal of Joan of Arc, a subject over which he had obsessed for forty years, studied for a dozen years and spent two years writing. In and again in , he stated, "I like Joan of Arc best of all my books, it is the best. In it, he said, Twain was a Freemason. He belonged to Polar Star Lodge No. There are also other structures, such as the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge.
Awards in his name proliferate. In , The John F. The Mark Twain Award is an award given annually to a book for children in grades four through eight by the Missouri Association of School Librarians.