Mark Twain An American Icon

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Transcript Mark Twain An American Icon

Mark Twain

An American Icon

•Real name: Samuel Langhorne Clemens •As a young man, he worked as a riverboat pilot •When he started his writing career, he changed his name to “Mark Twain” •“Mark Twain” means two fathoms, a safe depth for a riverboat (The periodic measurement of the distance between the bottom of the steamboat and the riverbed. When the leadsman detected a depth of only twelve feet (two fathoms), he would sound the alert: 'By the maaa-ark, twain!‘)

• 1861-Mark Twain headed West to avoid the Civil War • First job: reporter at the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise • At this job, Twain first discovered his talent for writing

• Age 34-Married Olivia Langdon, who was part of a wealthy coal family • Olivia provided her family’s home in NY for him to write and relax

• His most famous novel is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. • Many have criticized it for being racist • Mark Twain was not racist, but he simply depicted life in his times.

"I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. All I care to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can't be any worse."

• 1900-Twain had become the most important American celebrity • He was invited to attend fancy dinners, gatherings, ship launchings, political events.

• Reporters were always anxious to get a humorous quip or comment from him • He started wearing all white suits; he loved to stroll down the street so people would stare at him

• Twain began to involve himself in fanciful investment schemes that led to his bankruptcy—and eventual departure.

• He lived in Europe from 1891-1901 because of financial problems

• He began to travel the world speaking and lecturing.

• He combined humor with information to reach the public

• He died on April 21, 1910.

• Newspapers around the country proclaimed that “the world is in mourning” “I was sorry to have my name mentioned as one of the great authors, because they have a sad habit of dying off. Chaucer is dead, Spencer is dead, so is Milton, so is Shakespeare, and I’m not feeling so well myself.”—Mark Twain

“I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: "Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together."

“Wisdom teaches us that none but birds should go out early, and that not even birds should do it unless they are out of worms.”

• Views on politics...

“Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can.” "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."

“Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live.”

“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”

“Nothing is made in vain, but the fly came near it.” “I'd rather have ten snakes in the house than one fly.”

“The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's.”

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” “Humor is mankind's greatest blessing.” “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.” “Classic--a book which people praise and don't read.”

“It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”

and one more…

• “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.” --author’s note from

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huck Finn

• Considered a continuation of Tom Sawyer • Huck is an important member of Tom’s group of boys • Book centers around the journey of Huck and Jim, a slave. • Twain represents and makes fun of people by exaggerating their character. • Both author and character show a desire to correct the wrongs of society.

• Today, Huck Finn is considered a classic, although it is on the banned books list for children.