Mark Twain Essay Research Paper It is

Mark Twain Essay, Research Paper

It is indisputable that, during his many years of writing, Mark Twain

established himself as a literary genius. It is also indisputable that the

primary reason for his success as an author was his quick wit and sense of

humor. During this nation?s time of political and social division, Twain wrote

about many of the simpler things in life while always showing his humorist side.

His brilliant comedic mind was especially unusual for any popular writer around

during this rough time period in the nation?s history. Mark Twain?s humorist

views and writings truly solidify him as the forefather of American humor.

Unlike many writers of his time, Samuel Clemens, better known as his pen name,

Mark Twain never secluded himself or slaved over a piece of work. He enjoyed

playing billiards or sitting on his porch, smoking a pipe. He lived with his

wife and three daughters, and did most of writing in his billiards room or on

his bed. He lived a simple, casual life, which proved to encourage his laidback,

humorist attitude. (Whipple, Sally) William Dean Howells once compared Twain?s

lifestyle to the other famous writers of his time. ?Emerson, Longfellow,

Lowell, Holmes? they were like one another and like other literary men; but

Clemens was sole, incomparable.? (Twainweb) This being Jones 2 perhaps the

best explanation for Twain?s unique humorist views, it is no doubt this

lifestyle provided for his creative storytelling and successful career as an

author. Mark Twain, a native of Missouri who lived most his childhood in

poverty, began his career, surprisingly, as a steamboat pilot. This career path

was soon to be interrupted by the Civil War, in which he served for the

Confederate Army for two weeks before withdrawing. Already at this point in his

life, Twain was showing his humorist side when he commented on this incident

saying, ??it was my retirement from it that brought the crash. It left the

Confederate side too weak.? (Ayers, 42) After the Civil War, Twain began his

career as a journalist. He bounced from one city to another, including a stay at

Virginia City, Nevada and San Francisco. While in San Francisco, Twain wrote The

Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, his first nationally acclaimed

work. This tale of young boys and frog races combined the themes of youth and

humor, a combination he would revisit frequently. (Budd, 32) Finally, in 1869,

Twain?s first book, The Innocents Abroad, was published and released. This

story provided many humorous quotes which Twain would become famous for. For

example, Twain commented on Italy saying, ?The Creator made Italy with designs

by Michelangelo.? (Ayers, 126) Twain would create his most famous, and

humorous, quotes later on while living in Hartford. In the early 1870?s, Twain

and his newlywed wife, Olivia Langdon, moved into a three-story house in

Hartford, Connecticut, where he would spend his most successful years. The first

book Twain wrote while in Hartford was Roughing It, which was Jones 3 released

in 1872. Despite many humorous moments during the book, its popularity and

comedic were very slight compared to his next book, The Adventures of Tom

Sawyer. Considered by many as one of Twain?s greatest stories, The Adventures

of Tom Sawyer revisits the theme of youth combined with humor which he often

almost thrives off of at times. Tom Sawyer, which came out four years after

Roughing It, was released to mixed crowds. The book was banned in several areas

and sales were slow to begin with. Eventually, people were able to look past

many of the controversial issues in the book and see the humorist side of the

book, which would eventually make the book a classic. (Mark Twain in His Times)

This book, more so than others, indirectly poked fun at adults for forgetting

their childhood. In the preface of Tom Sawyer, Twain explains his reason for

writing it. ?Part of my plan has been to pleasantly remind adults of what they

were themselves, and how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer

enterprises they sometimes engaged in.? (Ayers, 37) This statement does a good

job of not only pointing something relatively obvious, but also makes fun of

life at its simplest. This is a humorist style that has made him not only one of

America?s most famous writers, but also a legendary role model for many other

authors and comedians who have become famous themselves. One such man who has

idolized Mark Twain was the famous twentieth century actor and comedian, Hal

Holbrook. In 1959, Holbrook, a mere seventeen year old actor portrayed an older

Twain in the show, Mark Twain Tonight! Though, it was technically Jones 4 not a

play, Mark Twain Tonight! found more success on Broadway than most plays would.

This play, which was simply a one-man show which included Holbrook dressed up as

Twain, poking fun at the habits and lifestyle of Twain, had to be extended three

times due to popular demand. Not only did this performance catapult the career

of the young actor, but it also helped to revived the popularity of Mark Twain.

(Budd, 159-164) One man who also helped to boost the popularity of Mark Twain

was the famous author, Ernest Hemingway. After reading The Adventures of

Huckleberry Finn, which came out seven years after Tom Sawyer, Hemingway made a

bold and flattering comment, saying, ?All modern American literature comes

from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.? (Budd, 126) At the point

this statement was made, Hemingway was already enjoying his own success, due

mainly to his humorist style of writing. As an obvious inspiration of

Hemingway?s, it is clear that Twain?s comedic style helped Hemingway with

his writing, and eventually, his success. Hemingway?s comments on Huckleberry

Finn truly helped boost Twain?s popularity during the twentieth century, yet

during the nineteenth century, this work caused enough controversy on its own.

Like Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn came under immediate criticism, except in this

case, it was much more severe. The book was banned in many school systems and

several libraries due to its coarse, and at times, racist language, yet Twain

was not a racist. To this day, the book still causes controversy in many school

systems across the nation who refuse to allow the book into their schools. Jones

5 Despite these harsh actions against the book, Huckleberry Finn sold more

copies during his time then any of his other books. In fact, it is presently his

most successful and most critically acclaimed book. (Mark Twain: Huck Finn)

Again, most consumers were able to look past the controversy of the book and

enjoy the book for what it was meant to be, a humorist look at the life of a

young boy and his adventures on the Mississippi River. After The Adventures of

Huckleberry Finn, Twain released two of his most famous comedies, A Connecticut

Yankee in King Arthur?s Court and Pudd?nhead Wilson. The first of the two

books, Connecticut Yankee, was one of the first books made which dealt with time

travel, an idea which was obscure and laughable at the time. The unique quality

of this book is how it is complex and detailed, unlike most of his books which

were about the simpler things in life. The second book, Pudd?nhead Wilson, was

released in 1894 and was perhaps his most obscure work. The story began as a

farce about two Siamese twins and wound up being about two babies who were

switched in their cradles. This book, unfortunately, did not receive the

critical acclaim most of his books received, yet it was still popular amongst

fans. The subject of discussion for this book is usually what message Twain was

intending to send. This book, despite its confusing message, tells a humorous

story with a humorous ending where the identities of the babies are restored.

(Mark Twain in His Times) Jones 6 Unfortunately, this was Twain?s last

popular, humorous story. He would leave Hartford due to debts he owed and live a

hard life for the rest of his years. Before he died, Twain would see two of

three daughters and his wife pass away before him. He spent the rest of his days

trying to repay his dept and mourning over his lost family members, whom he was

very close too. He died on April 21, 1910 in Redding, Conn. During his lifetime,

Mark Twain went from a child of poverty to one of the most famous and unique

writers of his time to a legendary American hero. Due to classics such as Tom

Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, he has established himself as not only a famous

writer but also a famous comedian. There was no comedy before Mark Twain, most

men were obsessed with politics and the military. After Twain, comedy exploded.

Charlie Chaplin is one man who is not only a famous comedic pioneer, but also a

supporter of Twain. His career shows the influence of Mark Twain in many areas,

often including his characters. Mark Twain?s stories truly solidify him as a

legendary author, yet his humor was the unique quality which put him above the



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