Mark Twain – His Life and Work – William Montgomery Clemens
There was something so purely American in the humor of Mark Twain, that his work soon made for him a place in native literature. As a representative of American life and character his name extended even beyond the confines of the continent of Europe, into all lands and among all peoples. In Paris one cannot purchase a Bible at the book stall, but one may find „Roughing It“ at every corner. In Rome, „The Innocents Abroad“ is one of the staples in the book marts. In Hongkong you will find Mark Twain. Everywhere they read him. The career of Mark Twain is a romance. His life is a curious medley of pathos and poverty, with an occasional laugh to help along over the rough places. In this modest volume the author does not attempt to analyze the humor of Mark Twain. There is romance, and adventure, and thrilling interest surrounding the life of the prince of humorists, and the author has endeavored to gather together some of these interesting facts. Mark Twain’s satire and wit speak for themselves.
Mark Twain – His Life and Work.
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Biography of Mark Twain (from Wikipedia):
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. Among his novels are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called „The Great American Novel“.
Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He served an apprenticeship with a printer and then worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. His humorous story, „The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County“, was published in 1865, based on a story that he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention and was even translated into French. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, but he invested in ventures that lost most of it—notably the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter that failed because of its complexity and imprecision. He filed for bankruptcy in the wake of these financial setbacks, but he eventually overcame his financial troubles with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers. He chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, even after he had no legal responsibility to do so.
Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would „go out with it“ as well; he died the day after the comet returned. He was lauded as the „greatest humorist this country has produced“, and William Faulkner called him „the father of American literature“.
(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)
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