"I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course."
- Mark Twain
"One day I was handed a few volumes of new literature unlike anything I had ever read before and so captivating as to make me utterly forget my hopeless state. They were the earlier works of Mark Twain and to them might have been due the miraculous recovery which followed. Twenty-five years later, when I met Mr. Clemens and we formed a friendship between us, I told him of the experience and was amazed to see that great man of laughter burst into tears."
― Nikola Tesla
"When I am king, they shall not have bread and shelter only, but also teachings out of books, for a full belly is little worth where the mind is starved."
- The Prince and the Pauper, 1881
We are chameleons, and our partialities and prejudices change places with an easy and blessed facility, and we are soon wonted to the change and happy in it. We do not regret our old, yellow fangs and tushes after we have worn nice fresh uniform store teeth a while.
- Speech, 9/19/1906
The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.
- Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar
"When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."
- Notebook, 1898
...when they used to tell me I would shorten my life ten years by smoking, they little knew the devotee they were wasting their puerile word upon -- they little knew how trivial and valueless I would regard a decade that had no smoking in it!
- letter to Joseph Twichell, 19 Dec 1870
"To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph."
- Letter to Emeline Beach, 10 Feb 1868
All pictures found in the internet.
I’m going to admit it openly: I admire Mark Twain. His cynical humor, his talent of describing something completely plain in a hilarious way make him one of my favorite classic authors.
‘Mark Twain’ is only a pen name and actually is a nautical expression relating to a specific water depth. The author was born as Samuel Longhorne Clemens, and he came to life in the little village of Florida, Missouri, in 1835. According to his own words, he increased Florida’s number of inhabitant by one percent with his birth. Five years after his birth, the Clemens family moved to the nearby town of Hannibal. The fictional St. Petersburg, where Twains most famous character Tom Sawyer experiences his numerous adventures, is largely based on Hannibal, and in the same manner, Tom’s adventures are mostly based on experiences in Twains youth.
Twain’s first short story, which would be followed by many more, was published in a weekly newspaper in 1864. In 1873, he wrote his first book, called “The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today”. Three years later, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, was published, which was, in a way, the precursor of his masterpiece, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, which was published 1884. In ‘Tom Sawyer’, Huck Finn plays an important supporting role; but in his own novel, he is the protagonist and embodies the young American boy. In the novel, Twain describes the American way of life, and is not afraid of adding a critical note here and there. In the book, and in several of his other works, he criticizes the differences between social classes as well as greediness and imperialism.
Twain was an opponent of slavery, although keeping slaves was common in almost every household in his time. Even his own family employed a slave, and it was only because of financial problems that they had to give up on him. In ‘Huckleberry Finn’, Twain’s attitude towards holding slaves is not expressed very clearly, and some even say the novel is racist. Twain indeed portrays Jim, the slave who flees together with Huckleberry, with very prototypical characteristics, which can be interpreted as both humorous and racist. On the other hand, it is remarkable that a slave was one of the main characters in a book which was written in that time. Apart from his typical African-English and his superstitions, Jim is portrayed as a rather intelligent man, and above all he is very kind – which was contradictory to the general opinion of the blacks in that time. Huckleberry Finn is a child of his age, and that’s why he feels torn between morality and his own feelings. He has learned that slaves are in the possession of the family they work for and they may not run away – to help a slave escaping would be no less than theft – but on the other hand, he has sincere feelings of friendship for Jim, and therefore, he wants to help him anyway. With this subject, Twain appeals to the conscience of his readership and makes them think about the rights of slaves.
A second point of critic lies in the use of the word ‘nigger’. Some people want to eliminate this word from literature, but to my opinion one should always reflect a work of art keeping the time in which it came into being in mind. In was not until 1900 that the word ‘nigger’ got its pejorative meaning, before that time – and thus when Twain wrote his books – it was the common name for a black man.
Excerpt of his works:
- The Innocents Abroad (1869), travel
- Roughing It (1872), travel
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)
- The Prince and the Pauper (1881)
- A Tramp Abroad (1880), travel
- Life on the Mississippi (1883), travel
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)
- The Mysterious Stranger (1916, posthumous)