“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them”, Mark Twain had once said and rightly so.
Popularly called ‘The father of American Literature’, Mark Twain is one of the greatest writers America has ever produced. Born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, United States, Twain has donned multiple hats throughout his career ranging from a journalist, novelist, essayist, humourist, short story writer, travelogue writer, lecturer, etc.
Known for his humorous style of writing, Twain’s literature was colloquial in nature while also being socially relevant. The two most popular novels the legend is known for are named ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’. All modern American literature comes from one book by Twain called Huckleberry Finn,” Ernest Hemingway had once said. Twain’s many children’s books draw from the nostalgic stories of youth and childhood. ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’, set in 1840s St. Petersburg is about adventures that a boy undertakes while residing and growing up along the Mississippi river. ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ is a sequel to the previously mentioned novel. It is considered to be a revolutionary book in US’ Children’s Literature. This too is primarily set along the Mississippi river, characterized by a beautiful heartwarming portrayal of growing up years. ‘Life on the Mississippi’ was another addition to the acclaimed list of Twain’s travelogues published in 1883. This had a heavy influence on his Mississippi set novels. Mississippi river finds a constant mention in most of Twain’s work with a lot of it being drawn from his own experiences and memories.
Before penning these all time greats, Twain had written travelogues and journalistic pieces. His first travelogue was produced in 1867 named ‘The innocents abroad’ which turned out to be a bestseller and is also considered as one of the most popular travel books of all time. It revolved around Twain’s five month long sea cruise voyage along the Mediterranean and the observations, anecdotes and experiences tagged along. It was followed by another travelogue published in 1872 named ‘Roughing it’. Later Twain went on to write his first novel named ‘The Gilded Age : A tale of today’ (co-written along with his friend Charles Dudley Warner).
Twain’s other novels include the likes of ‘The Prince and the Pauper’, ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court’, ‘A horse’s tale’, ‘The mysterious stranger’, ‘Personal recollections of Joan of Arc’, ‘The American Claimant’, ‘Pudd’nhead Wilson’, etc.
‘The celebrated jumping frog of Calaveras county’ published in 1865 is one of the most popular short stories written by Twain. ‘Cannibalism in the cars’, ‘A literary nightmare’, ‘A murder, a mystery and a marriage’, ‘Those extraordinary twins’, ‘ A dog’s tale’ and many other such titles make up the long list of Mark Twain’s short story oriented body of work.
His essays include ‘Advice to little girls’, ‘Advice to youth’, ‘The awful German language’, ‘On the decay of the art of living’, ‘Concerning the Jews’, ‘What is Man?’, etc.
Mark Twain has been bestowed upon with 3 honorary degrees. He received honorary Master of Arts and Doctor of Letters degrees from Yale University in Connecticut and an honorary Doctor of Letters from Oxford University in England.
Mark Twain will be remembered forever for his amazing humour, social commentary and his phenomenal knack for blending his personal experiences into stories filled with and targeted towards children.
In the words of the master himself, “There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.”
Let’s befriend Tom Sawyer And Huckleberry Finn. Happy reading folks!