Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, one of the major authors of American fiction. Twain is also considered the greatest humorist in American literature. His varied works include novels, travel narratives, short stories, sketches, and essays. His writings about the Mississippi River, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, have proven especially popular among modern readers.
I feel that many of Mark Twain’s writings are greatly influenced by experiences that he had to deal with throughput his life. In fact, Twain centers several of his stories around his boyhood dreams on the Mississippi. This is the very subject that his pen name which means two fathoms, a river boat term. He goes on to record much of his time in the western areas of the Unite States and Hawaii in Roughing It, which has many autobiographical accounts of Twain.
Twain humorously describes his unsuccessful attempts at prospecting for gold and silver during this time and his eventual conclusion that he must support himself by newspaper journalism. He influences these stories with his real life experiences. In Roughing It, Twain relates a severe case of stage fright that overwhelmed him before his first professional appearance on the lecture platform. According to Twain he had a growing fear that the audience would not recognize his jokes. This fear actually drove him to strategically place his friends throughout the audience to laugh loudly at the jokes people thought were indistinct. Twain became convinced that no one would attend and, arriving early for the show, sat backstage consumed with horrors. Twain then writes, “Then I heard a murmur; it rose higher and higher, and ended in a crash, mingled with cheers. It made my hair raise, it was so close to me, and so loud. There was a pause, and then another; presently came a third, and before I well knew what I was about, I was in the middle of the stage, staring at a sea of faces, bewildered by the fierce glare of the lights, and quaking in every limb with a terror that seemed like to take my life away. The house was full, aisles and all!” Twain’s account makes wonderful reading, but it is very unlikely that he was so ill-prepared for success. Although it is this writing that many people can relate to and learn from.
Mark Twain was born on Nov. 3…
…tions of Joan of Arc. Joan was Twain’s last major work. During the earlier part of his struggles with bankruptcy he had attempted to revive his greatest books, with Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894), Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894), and Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896), but the magic could not be recalled. Despite his struggles with money he continued to write. His works during his final years included The American Claimant (1892), about an impractical character named Colonel Mulberry Sellers. The novel was based on an unsuccessful play he wrote with author-critic William Dean Howells in 1883. The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894) is a detective novel set in the village of Dawson’s Landing, another name for Hannibal. He wrote the story The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg (1899), in which he described a practical joke that exposed the greed of the smug leaders of a town. In his closing years Twain published a number of short stories and some of his finest satire.
Twain was a great humorist that was not afraid to take his life experiences and turn them into great, entertaining stories. His stories were very real which is probably the very reason that his stories can capture every one’s attention.