Mark Twain was an American humorist, journalist, lecturer,and novelist. (history) He had the ability to allow the reader to feel thestory by using such dialect, speech patterns and slang that had never been usedbefore. (Parnell) “Twain’s worksaren’t just written texts, but tangible artifacts of both American literary andcultural history.
” (Parnell) His work is timeless and unforgettable. Muchof what he spoke out for and supported is still relevant today. Samuel LanghorneClemens, aka Mark Twain, was born November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri anddied on April 21, 1910, in Redding, Connecticut.
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He spent his childhood in thebackwater of Hannibal, Missouri. Samuel did not receive a formal education butrather used life experiences as his education. He felt it foolish of those whowould just the educational system with blind faith. (Khurana) He was able touse his childhood experiences in Missouri as inspiration for much of his work.
Mark Twain started his career apprenticing as a printer and a brief period as asteamboat pilot. When the Civil War erupted he then served very briefly as aConfederate soldier before deserting. (Churchwell) He fled to the west whereConfederate soldiers were unlikely to pursue him. He tried his hand at silvermining and when that failed returned under the name Mark Twain. Mark Twain”was riverboat term, meaning measuring two fathoms (12 feet) in depth,mark (measure) twain (two).” (Mark Twain) Mark Twainpublished his first book,” The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” in 1876.Then the sequel” “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” inFebruary 1885, and in so doing, changed American literature.
” (Ulin) Bothof these books are considered literary classics. The book, “The Adventuresof Huckleberry Finn” is now 181 years and still very relevant to manygenerations. These books were based on his experiences as a young boy living inthe South. This enabled him to describe in great detail the landscape enablingthe reader to see it.
He also used his experience a steamboat pilot and thetime he spent on the Mississippi River. Not many writers up to this point had flirted with vernacular expressionbefore. A vernacular expression is usinglanguage or dialect native to a region or country rather than a literary,cultured, or foreign language.
(Merriam Webster Dictionary) He had used a whole new American language inhis writing. This allowed the reader to get the story and really feel theexperiences. (Ulin) He also had the ability to use real language that allowedthe reader to interpret it as real speech. In 1885, this book was considered controversial because of the languageused by Huck, as well as his casual morals. The book was actually banned inConcord, Massachusetts because of this.
Which, he found very ironic sincenobody had any problems with leaving a bible out in the open for all toread. Even today this book causes someobjection to the modern reader they are not offended by the language he usedspecifically, the word nigger, which appears over 200 times throughout thebook. But again he was in keeping in the language of the time. The modernreader today also found it very disturbing that Huck, readily accepted slavery.The realistic language he used came to influence many writers at that time.Despite what modern people of today may interpret from his work, Mark Twain wasquite liberal for his day this is demonstrated in “Huckleberry Finn”.He shows his support for equality of all races. (Mark Twain) In this story, heshows his discontent for the poor treatment of the black Americans.
Regarding thebook, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Ernest Hemmingway has been quotedsaying “the best book we’ve had”, All American writing comes fromthat.” (Stromness) Samuel Clemmons, aka Mark Twain, has gone on toinfluence many authors. He was then able to portray American culture in a wayno one had experienced before. He had the ability to express his beliefs andconcerns of American society at that time through critical remarks. (Stromness)This book is often referred to by many critics as the “Great AmericanNovel.” (Wood) In the book,”The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” creates a 12 yr.
old boy of greatmischief. This story portrays the classic mischievous of youth in America today.Mark Twain embodied the youth of that time, with the marble playing andwhitewashing Even though, these are not activities of our youth today, theystill seem relatable. In bothstories, he is able to demonstrate the realities of the hard times that hadplagued the South at that time. Slavery and racism are very relevant at thattime and he shows this in his stories.
Though these stories were released afterslavery had been abolished, they take place pre-civil war time era. He uses notonly words when describing this, but also included many pictures in his books.The pictures in these books are worth a thousand words.
These stories werecreated during the early 1800’s during the Reconstruction plan when the UnitedStates was trying to integrate slaves that were now free back into society.During this time when the Jim Crow laws were being implemented to help thefreed slaves, but only to have the southern whites enacted laws of their own.His stories show the hypocrisy of slavery and racism. He also demonstrated hisstance on imperialism and how he felt about it at the time.
He was verycritical of imperialism. He felt all acquired possessions came from someoneelse’s misgivings. Mark Twain wasalso known as one of the most famous humorists still remembered today. Hepossessed the ability to use jokes that went to the root of human nature. MarkTwain once wrote, “Against the assault of laughter nothing canstand.
” (Scharnhorst)The humor he uses is unique in the fact it does notdepend on the time period but is universal. (Greenblatt) He not only usedarticles and books to amuse his audiences, he also used lectures to delight hisaudiences. Samuel Clemens did also expand his career and in 1895 to 1896 he took to the roadand did a lecture tour. It toured through India, South Africa, and Australia.The tour was very successful and when he returned he was considered aninternational hero. (India) He wouldoften tell stories of all the far-off places he had visited.
He would use theseopportunities to help promote his current published work. One of the booksthat were famous for showcasing his humor was “The Gilded Age”. Heused the word Gilded which meant covered in gold. This book was used to makefun of the very wealthy people of that time. (America’s Story) He wassuccessful in making people laugh at the excessive spending of the rich.Another famous book that also showed his humor was, “A Connecticut Yankeein King Arthur’s Court”, this was a story of a boy who traveled back toKing Arthur’s time.
Twain expressed his feelings of how he found it amusingthat some were given advantages not because they earned them, but simply forwhom they knew. (America’s Story) Hewent on to speak out to the fact that there seemed to be double standards whenit came to the wealthy and the poor. He felt the poor did not receive the samelevel of respect as the wealthy. Mark Twain wasable to reach various readers from different backgrounds and places.
While theTom Sawyer series reached the youth with all the silly adventures. He alsoreached the prominent society with his book, “The Prince and Pauper”which was a story set in England in the 1500’s. This story was a young princewho exchanges identities with a poor boy.
Another exampleof Mark Twain’s courage to speak out in his short story, “The WarPrayer”. This story is about a town getting ready to send their brothers,sons, and fathers off to war in hopes of victory. He goes on to describe whatthe outcome for the other side would be if the victory was obtained. Once againeven though he knows it will not be a popular view of others he still goes onto write it.
He was a true believer in free speech which was provided by the U.S Constitution. He often challenged and defended this many times throughouthis career.
Unfortunately, it was not published, when first submitted becauseof this. He is told publication of this piece would not be suitable for thistime. It is not until after he dies that it is finally published to be sharedby all. He never failed to speak out when he felt something was not fair orseemed not right. Samuel Clemens did also expand his career and in 1895 to 1896he took to the road and did a lecture tour.
He toured through India, SouthAfrica, and Australia. The tour was very successful and when he returned he wasconsidered an international hero. (India) Unfortunately, inhis later years, he seemed to lose that humor and focus more on human greed andcruelty. This led to him writing and giving anti-government speeches. Someviewed him as a traitor. This eventually led to some of his work not beingpublished in his lifetime.
Mark Twain is remembered though as one of thebest-known humorists. He was able to use comic exaggeration to attack what hesaw as false pride and self-satisfaction in humanity. (India) Today Mark Twain’sbooks and poetry are still studied in many classrooms across the country. Hewas respected worldwide by many authors for the way he was able to draw thereader in with his unusual style of writing.
He did succumb to the traditionalwriting but let go to allow the reader to feel as if they were part of thestory. He was also known for his great patriotism towards his country. Hisstrong love of patriotism is still very strong today.
School childreneverywhere stand and pledge allegiance to the flag showing to show ourpatriotism. The birth anddeath of Samuel L Clemens saw comets. Shakespeare stated you don’t see cometswhen ordinary writers die. (Sutherland) Today his work is being evaluated bynew angles and perspectives allowing Americans to see him more clearly thanever before. (Sutherland) Samuel L Clemens, aka Mark Twain, still seems tointrigue the interest of the American people today. In 2010, which marked the100th year of his death an Autobiography was released and quickly became a bestseller.