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Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835-April 21, 1910), better known by pen name Mark Twain, was a famous and popular humorist, writter and lecturer. He was also a steamboat pilot, gold prospector and journalist. His classics Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are widely read in schools across the U.S., as well as in many other western countries. Also popular are The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court[?] and the non-fictional Life on the Mississippi[?]. His 1876 novel titled 1601[?] was banned from publication on the grounds it was obscene.

Twain began as a writer of light humorous verse; he ended as a grim, almost profane chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies and acts of killing committed by mankind. At mid-career, with Huckleberry Finn, he combined rich humor, sturdy narrative and social criticism in a way almost unrivaled in world literature.

Twain was a master at rendering colloquial speech, and helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature, built on American themes and language.

Twain wrote The War Prayer[?] during the Spanish-American War. It was submitted for publication, but on March 22, 1905, Harper's Bazaar[?] rejected it as "not quite suited to a woman's magazine." Eight days later, Twain wrote to his friend Dan 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." Because he had an exclusive contract with Harper & Brothers, Mark Twain could not publish "The War Prayer" elsewhere and it remained unpublished until 1923.

Twain led the Anti-Imperialist League[?] which opposed the annexation of the Philippines by the United States.

The name "Mark Twain" is a pun reference to a riverboat depth measurement meaning two fathoms. He also used the pseudonym "Sieur Louis de Conte" for his fictional autobiography of Joan of Arc.

In recent years, there have been attempts to ban Huckleberry Finn from various libraries, because Twain's use of local color offends some people. Although Twain was against racism and imperialism far in front of public sentiment of his time, ironically some with only superficial familiarity of his work have condemned it as racist for its accurate depiction of the unpleasant language in common use in the United States in the 19th century.

In his later life Twain's family suppressed some of his work which was especially irreverent towards conventional religion; notably Letters from the Earth (http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/twainlfe.htm) was not published until decades after Twain's death.

Table of contents

Mark Twain as a character

Additional Works by Twain Include:

  • The $30,000 Bequest (fiction)
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (fiction)
  • Adventures of Tom Sawyer (fiction)
  • Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven (fiction)
  • A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court (fiction)
  • Following the Equator (non-fiction travel)
  • A Horse's Tale (fiction)
  • Innocents Abroad (non-fiction travel)
  • King Leopold's Soliloquy (political satire)
  • Life on the Mississippi (non-fiction)
  • Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg (fiction)
  • The Mysterious Stranger (fiction, published posthumously)
  • The Prince and the Pauper (fiction)
  • Pudd'n'head Wilson (fiction)
  • Roughing It (non-fiction)
  • Tom Sawyer Abroad (fiction)
  • Tom Sawyer Detective (fiction)
  • A Tramp Abroad (non-fiction travel)
  • What Is Man? (essay)

Notable quotes

  • "They did not know it was impossible, so they did it!"
  • "A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain."
  • "I never let my schooling get in the way of my education."
  • "There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages."
  • "It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt."
  • "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."
  • "Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."
  • "Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example."
  • "The citizen who sees his society's democratic clothes being worn out and does not cry out is not a patriot but a traitor."
  • "I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. All I care to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can't be any worse."
  • "October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February."
  • "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."
  • "Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing."
  • "None but the dead have free speech."

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