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Samuel Clemens As Mark Twain Essay Research

Samuel Clemens As Mark Twain Essay, Research Paper Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), American writer and humorist, whose best work is characterized by broad, often irreverent humor or biting social satire.

Samuel Clemens As Mark Twain Essay, Research Paper

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), American writer and humorist, whose best

work is characterized by broad, often irreverent humor or biting social satire.

Twain’s writing is also known for realism of place and language, memorable

characters, and hatred of hypocrisy and oppression. Born in Florida, Missouri,

Clemens moved with his family to Hannibal, Missouri, a port on the Mississippi

River, when he was four years old. There he received a public school education.

After the death of his father in 1847, Clemens was apprenticed to two Hannibal

printers, and in 1851 he began setting type for and contributing sketches to his

brother Orion’s Hannibal Journal. Subsequently he worked as a printer in Keokuk,

Iowa; New York City; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and other cities. Later Clemens

was a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River until the American Civil War

(1861-1865) brought an end to travel on the river. In 1861 Clemens served

briefly as a volunteer soldier in the Confederate cavalry. Later that year he

accompanied his brother to the newly created Nevada Territory, where he tried

his hand at silver mining. In 1862 he became a reporter on the Territorial

Enterprise in Virginia City, Nevada, and in 1863 he began signing his articles

with the pseudonym Mark Twain, a Mississippi River phrase meaning "two

fathoms deep." After moving to San Francisco, California, in 1864, Twain

met American writers Artemus Ward and Bret Harte, who encouraged him in his

work. In 1865 Twain reworked a tale he had heard in the California gold fields,

and within months the author and the story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of

Calaveras County," had become national sensations. In 1867 Twain lectured

in New York City, and in the same year he visited Europe and Palestine. He wrote

of these travels in The Innocents Abroad (1869), a book exaggerating those

aspects of European culture that impress American tourists. In 1870 he married

Olivia Langdon. After living briefly in Buffalo, New York, the couple moved to

Hartford, Connecticut. Much of Twain’s best work was written in the 1870s and

1880s in Hartford or during the summers at Quarry Farm, near Elmira, New York.

Roughing It (1872) recounts his early adventures as a miner and journalist; The

Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) celebrates boyhood in a town on the Mississippi

River; A Tramp Abroad (1880) describes a walking trip through the Black Forest

of Germany and the Swiss Alps; The Prince and the Pauper (1882), a children’s

book, focuses on switched identities in Tudor England; Life on the Mississippi

(1883) combines an autobiographical account of his experiences as a river pilot

with a visit to the Mississippi nearly two decades after he left it; A

Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) satirizes oppression in feudal

England (see Feudalism). The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), the sequel

to Tom Sawyer, is considered Twain’s masterpiece. The book is the story of the

title character, known as Huck, a boy who flees his father by rafting down the

Mississippi River with a runaway slave, Jim. The pair’s adventures show Huck

(and the reader) the cruelty of which men and women are capable. Another theme

of the novel is the conflict between Huck’s feelings of friendship with Jim, who

is one of the few people he can trust, and his knowledge that he is breaking the

laws of the time by helping Jim escape. Huckleberry Finn, which is almost

entirely narrated from Huck’s point of view, is noted for its authentic language

and for its deep commitment to freedom. Huck’s adventures also provide the

reader with a panorama of American life along the Mississippi before the Civil

War. Twain’s skill in capturing the rhythms of that life help make the book one

of the masterpieces of American literature. In 1884 Twain formed the firm

Charles L. Webster and Company to publish his and other writers’ works, notably

Personal Memoirs (two volumes, 1885-1886) by American general and president

Ulysses S. Grant. A disastrous investment in an automatic typesetting machine

led to the firm’s bankruptcy in 1894. A successful worldwide lecture tour and

the book based on those travels, Following the Equator (1897), paid off Twain’s

debts. Twain’s work during the 1890s and the 1900s is marked by growing

pessimism and bitterness-the result of his business reverses and, later, the

deaths of his wife and two daughters. Significant works of this period are

Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894), a novel set in the South before the Civil War that

criticizes racism by focusing on mistaken racial identities, and Personal

Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), a sentimental biography. Twain’s other

later writings include short stories, the best known of which are "The Man

That Corrupted Hadleyburg" (1899) and "The War Prayer" (1905);

philosophical, social, and political essays; the manuscript of "The

Mysterious Stranger," an uncompleted piece that was published posthumously

in 1916; and autobiographical dictations. Twain’s work was inspired by the

unconventional West, and the popularity of his work marked the end of the

domination of American literature by New England writers. He is justly renowned

as a humorist but was not always appreciated by the writers of his time as

anything more than that. Successive generations of writers, however, recognized

the role that Twain played in creating a truly American literature. He portrayed

uniquely American subjects in a humorous and colloquial, yet poetic, language.

His success in creating this plain but evocative language precipitated the end

of American reverence for British and European culture and for the more formal

language associated with those traditions. His adherence to American themes,

settings, and language set him apart from many other novelists of the day and

had a powerful effect on such later American writers as Ernest Hemingway and

William Faulkner, both of whom pointed to Twain as an inspiration for their own

writing. In Twain’s later years he wrote less, but he became a celebrity,

frequently speaking out on public issues. He also came to be known for the white

linen suit he always wore when making public appearances. Twain received an

honorary doctorate from Oxford University in 1907. When he died he left an

uncompleted autobiography, which was eventually edited by his secretary, Albert

Bigelow Paine, and published in 1924. In 1990 the first half of a handwritten

manuscript of Huckleberry Finn was discovered in Hollywood, California. After a

series of legal battles over ownership, the portion, which included previously

unpublished material, was reunited with its second half, which had been housed

at the Buffalo and Erie County (New York) Public Library, in 1992. A revised

edition of Huckleberry Finn including the unpublished material was released in

1996.

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