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Mark Twain

Mark Twain, detail of photo by Mathew Brady, February 7, 1871
Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens
November 30, 1835(1835-11-30)
Florida, Missouri, U.S.
Died April 21, 1910 (aged 74)
Redding, Connecticut, U.S.
Pen name Mark Twain
Occupation Writer, lecturer
Nationality American
Genres Fiction, historical fiction, children's literature, non-fiction, travel literature, satire, essay, philosophical literature, social commentary, literary criticism
Notable work(s) Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Spouse(s) Olivia Langdon Clemens (1870–1904)
Children Langdon, Susy, Clara, Jean
Signature

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910),[3] well-known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. Twain is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), which has been called "the Great American Novel",[4] and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). He is extensively quoted.[5][6] Twain was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.

Twain was very popular, and his keen wit and incisive satire earned praise from both critics and peers. Upon his death he was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age",[7] and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature".[8]

Contents

Biography

Early life

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835, to a Tennessee country merchant, John Marshall Clemens (August 11, 1798 – March 24, 1847), and Jane Lampton Clemens (June 18, 1803 – October 27, 1890).[9] John Marshall Clemens was the first of five children born to Samuel B Clemens and Pamela Goggin (1775–1844), who married on October 29, 1797 in Bedford County, Virginia.[10]

Twain was the sixth of seven children. Only three of his siblings survived childhood: his brother Orion (July 17, 1825 – December 11, 1897); Henry, who died in a riverboat explosion (July 13, 1838 – June 21, 1858); and Pamela (September 19, 1827 – August 31, 1904). His sister Margaret (May 31, 1830 – August 17, 1839) died when Twain was three years old, and his brother Benjamin (June 8, 1832 – May 12, 1842) died three years later. Another brother, Pleasant (1828–1829), died at the age of six months.[11] Twain was born two weeks after the closest approach to Earth of Halley's Comet. On 4 December 1985, the United States Postal Service issued a stamped envelope for "Mark Twain and Halley's Comet." [12]

When Twain was four, his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri,[13] a port town on the Mississippi River that served as the inspiration for the fictional town of St. Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.[14] At that time, Missouri was a slave state, and young Twain became familiar with the institution of slavery, a theme he would later explore in his writing.

In March 1847, when Twain was 11, his father died of pneumonia.[15] The next year, he became a printer's apprentice. In 1851, he began working as a typesetter and contributor of articles and humorous sketches for the Hannibal Journal, a newspaper owned by his brother Orion. When he was 18, he left Hannibal and worked as a printer in New York City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. He joined the union and educated himself in public libraries in the evenings, finding wider sources of information than he would have at a conventional school.[16] At 22, Twain returned to Missouri.

The library of the Mark Twain House, which features hand-stenciled paneling, fireplaces from India, embossed wallpapers and an enormous hand-carved mantel that the Twains purchased in Scotland (HABS photo)

On a voyage to New Orleans down the Mississippi, the steamboat pilot, Horace E. Bixby, inspired Twain to pursue a career as a steamboat pilot; it was a richly rewarding occupation with wages set at $250 per month,[17] roughly equivalent to $72,400 a year today. A steamboat pilot needed a vast knowledge of the ever-changing river to be able to stop at the hundreds of ports and wood-lots along the river banks. Twain meticulously studied 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of the Mississippi for more than two years before he received his steamboat pilot license in 1859.

While training, Samuel convinced his younger brother Henry to work with him. Henry was killed on June 21, 1858, when the steamboat he was working on, the Pennsylvania, exploded. Twain had foreseen this death in a detailed dream a month earlier,[18] which inspired his interest in parapsychology; he was an early member of the Society for Psychical Research.[19] Twain was guilt-stricken and held himself responsible for the rest of his life. He continued to work on the river and served as a river pilot until the American Civil War broke out in 1861 and traffic along the Mississippi was curtailed.

Missouri was a slave state, considered by many to be part of the South, and was represented in both the Confederate and Federal governments during the Civil War. Years later, Twain wrote a sketch, "The Private History of a Campaign That Failed", which claimed he and his friends had been Confederate volunteers for two weeks before disbanding their company.[20]

Travels

Twain in 1867

Twain joined his brother, Orion, who in 1861 had been appointed secretary to James W. Nye, the governor of Nevada Territory, and headed west. Twain and his brother traveled for more than two weeks on a stagecoach across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, visiting the Mormon community in Salt Lake City along the way. These experiences inspired Roughing It, and provided material for The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Twain's journey ended in the silver-mining town of Virginia City, Nevada, where he became a miner.[20] Twain failed as a miner and found work at a Virginia City newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise.[21] It was here that he first used his famous pen name. On February 3, 1863, he signed a humorous travel account "Letter From Carson – re: Joe Goodman; party at Gov. Johnson's; music" with "Mark Twain".[22]

Twain moved to San Francisco, California in 1864, where he continued working as a journalist. He met other writers, such as Bret Harte, Artemus Ward, and Dan DeQuille. The young poet Ina Coolbrith may have romanced him.[23]

His first great success as a writer came when his humorous tall tale, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", was published in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865. It was an immediate hit and brought him national attention. A year later, he traveled to the Sandwich Islands (present-day Hawaii) as a reporter for the Sacramento Union. His travelogues were popular and became the basis for his first lectures.[24]

In 1867, a local newspaper funded a trip to the Mediterranean. During his tour of Europe and the Middle East, he wrote a popular collection of travel letters, which were later compiled as The Innocents Abroad in 1869. It was on this trip that he met his future brother-in-law.

Marriage and children

Charles Langdon showed a picture of his sister, Olivia, to Twain; Twain claimed to have fallen in love at first sight. The two met in 1868, were engaged a year later, and married in February 1870 in Elmira, New York.[24] She came from a "wealthy but liberal family", and through her he met abolitionists, "socialists, principled atheists and activists for women's rights and social equality", including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and the writer and utopian socialist William Dean Howells,[25] who became a longtime friend.

The couple lived in Buffalo, New York from 1869 to 1871. Twain owned a stake in the Buffalo Express newspaper, and worked as an editor and writer. Their son Langdon died of diphtheria at 19 months.

In 1871,[26] Twain moved his family to Hartford, Connecticut, where starting in 1873, he arranged the building of a home (local admirers saved it from demolition in 1927 and eventually turned it into a museum focused on him). While living there Olivia gave birth to three daughters: Susy (1872–1896), Clara (1874–1962)[27] and Jean (1880–1909). The couple's marriage lasted 34 years, until Olivia's death in 1904.

During his seventeen years in Hartford (1874–1891), Twain wrote many of his best-known works: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Prince and the Pauper (1881), Life on the Mississippi (1883), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889).

Twain made a second tour of Europe, described in the 1880 book A Tramp Abroad. His tour included a stay in Heidelberg from May 6 until July 23, 1878, and a visit to London.

Love of science and technology

Twain in the lab of Nikola Tesla, early 1894

He was fascinated with science and scientific inquiry. He developed a close and lasting friendship with Nikola Tesla, and the two spent much time together in Tesla's laboratory.

Twain patented three inventions, including an "Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments" (to replace suspenders) and a history trivia game.[28] Most commercially successful was a self-pasting scrapbook; a dried adhesive on the pages only needed to be moistened before use.

His book A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court features a time traveler from contemporary America, using his knowledge of science to introduce modern technology to Arthurian England. This type of storyline would later become a common feature of the science fiction sub-genre, Alternate history.

He appeared as himself in The Prince and the Pauper (1905), a two-reel short film that features the "only known celluloid footage of Mark Twain".[29]

Financial troubles

Twain made a substantial amount of money through his writing, but he squandered much of it in bad investments, mostly in new inventions, particularly the Paige typesetting machine. It was a beautifully engineered mechanical marvel that amazed viewers when it worked, but was prone to breakdowns. Twain spent $300,000 (equal to $7,518,462 today) on it between 1880 and 1894 [30], but before it could be perfected, it was made obsolete by the Linotype. He lost not only the bulk of his book profits but also a large portion of the inheritance of his wife.[31]

Twain also lost money through his publishing house, which enjoyed initial success selling the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant but went broke soon after, losing money on the idea that the general public would be interested in a biography of Pope Leo XIII. Fewer than two hundred copies were sold.[31]

Twain's writings and lectures, combined with the help of a new friend, enabled him to recover financially.[32] In 1893, he began a 15-year-long friendship with financier Henry Huttleston Rogers, a principal of Standard Oil. Rogers first made Twain file for bankruptcy. Then Rogers had Twain transfer the copyrights on his written works to his wife, Olivia, to prevent creditors from gaining possession of them. Finally, Rogers took absolute charge of Twain's money until all the creditors were paid.

Twain embarked on an around-the-world lecture tour in 1894[33] to pay off his creditors in full, despite the fact that he was no longer under any legal obligation to do so.[34] In mid-1900, he was the guest of newspaper proprietor Hugh Gilzean-Reid at Dollis Hill House. Twain wrote of Dollis Hill that he had "never seen any place that was so satisfactorily situated, with its noble trees and stretch of country, and everything that went to make life delightful, and all within a biscuit's throw of the metropolis of the world".[35] He returned to America in 1900, having earned enough to pay off his debts.

Speaking engagements

Twain was in demand as a featured speaker, and appeared before a number of men's clubs, including the White Friars, the Vagabonds, the Authors, the Monday Evening Club of Hartford, and the Beefsteak Club. He was made an honorary member of the Bohemian Club in San Francisco. In the late 1890s, he spoke to the Savage Club in London and was elected honorary member. When told that only three men had been so honored, including the Prince of Wales, he replied "Well, it must make the Prince feel mighty fine."[36] In 1897, Twain spoke to the Concordia Press Club in Vienna as a special guest, following diplomat Charlemagne Tower. In German, to the great amusement of the assemblage, Twain delivered the speech "Die Schrecken der deutschen Sprache" ("The Horrors of the German Language").[37]

Later life

Mark Twain in his gown (scarlet with grey sleeves and facings) for his D.Litt. degree, awarded to him by Oxford University.

Twain passed through a period of deep depression, which began in 1896 when his daughter Susy died of meningitis. Olivia's death in 1904 and Jean's on December 24, 1909, deepened his gloom.[38] On May 20, 1909, his close friend Henry Rogers died suddenly.

In 1906, Twain began his autobiography in the North American Review. In April, Twain heard that his friend Ina Coolbrith had lost nearly all she owned in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and he volunteered a few autographed portrait photographs to be sold for her benefit. To further aid Coolbrith, George Wharton James visited Twain in New York and arranged for a new portrait session. Twain said four of the resulting images were the finest ones ever taken of him.[39]

Twain formed a club in 1906 for girls he viewed as surrogate granddaughters, the Angel Fish and Aquarium Club. The dozen or so members ranged in age from 10 to 16. Twain exchanged letters with his "Angel Fish" girls and invited them to concerts and the theatre and to play games. Twain wrote in 1908 that the club was his "life's chief delight."[40]

Oxford University awarded Twain an honorary doctorate in letters (D.Litt.) in 1907.

In 1909, Twain is quoted as saying:[41]

I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, 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.'

His prediction was accurate – Twain died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910, in Redding, Connecticut, one day after the comet's closest approach to Earth.

Upon hearing of Twain's death, President William Howard Taft said:[42][43]

"Mark Twain gave pleasure – real intellectual enjoyment – to millions, and his works will continue to give such pleasure to millions yet to come... His humor was American, but he was nearly as much appreciated by Englishmen and people of other countries as by his own countrymen. He has made an enduring part of American literature."

Mark Twain headstone in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Twain's funeral was at the "Old Brick" Presbyterian Church in New York.[44] He is buried in his wife's family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York. His grave is marked by a 12-foot (i.e., two fathoms, or "mark twain") monument, placed there by his surviving daughter, Clara.[45] There is also a smaller headstone.

Writing

Overview

Twain began his career writing light, humorous verse, but evolved into a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies and murderous acts of mankind. At mid-career, with Huckleberry Finn, he combined rich humor, sturdy narrative and social criticism. Twain was a master at rendering colloquial speech and helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. Many of Twain's works have been suppressed at times for various reasons. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been repeatedly restricted in American high schools, not least for its frequent use of the word "nigger", which was in common usage in the pre-Civil War period in which the novel was set.

A complete bibliography of his works is nearly impossible to compile because of the vast number of pieces written by Twain (often in obscure newspapers) and his use of several different pen names. Additionally, a large portion of his speeches and lectures have been lost or were not written down; thus, the collection of Twain's works is an ongoing process. Researchers rediscovered published material by Twain as recently as 1995.[31]

Early journalism and travelogues

Cabin in which Twain wrote Jumping Frog of Calaveras, located on Jackass Hill in Tuolumne County.[46] Historical marker and interior view available.

Twain's first important work, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", was first published in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865. The only reason it was published there was that his story arrived too late to be included in a book Artemus Ward was compiling featuring sketches of the wild American West.

After this burst of popularity, Twain was commissioned by the Sacramento Union to write letters about his travel experiences for publication in the newspaper, his first of which was to ride the steamer Ajax in its maiden voyage to Hawaii, referred to at the time as the Sandwich Islands. These humorous letters proved the genesis to his work with the San Francisco Alta California newspaper, which designated him a traveling correspondent for a trip from San Francisco to New York City via the Panama isthmus. All the while, Twain was writing letters meant for publishing back and forth, chronicling his experiences with his burlesque humor. On June 8, 1867, Twain set sail on the pleasure cruiser Quaker City for five months. This trip resulted in The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrims' Progress.

This book is a record of a pleasure trip. If it were a record of a solemn scientific expedition it would have about it the gravity, that profundity, and that impressive incomprehensibility which are so proper to works of that kind, and withal so attractive. Yet not withstanding it is only a record of a picnic, it has a purpose, which is, to suggest to the reader how he would be likely to see Europe and the East if he looked at them with his own eyes instead of the eyes of those who traveled in those countries before him. I make small pretense of showing anyone how he ought to look at objects of interest beyond the sea – other books do that, and therefore, even if I were competent to do it, there is no need.

In 1872, Twain published a second piece of travel literature, Roughing It, as a semi-sequel to Innocents. Roughing It is a semi-autobiographical account of Twain's journey to Nevada and his subsequent life in the American West. The book lampoons American and Western society in the same way that Innocents critiqued the various countries of Europe and the Middle East. Twain's next work kept Roughing It's focus on American society but focused more on the events of the day. Entitled The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, it was not a travel piece, as his previous two books had been, and it was his first attempt at writing a novel. The book is also notable because it is Twain's only collaboration; it was written with his neighbor Charles Dudley Warner.

Twain's next two works drew on his experiences on the Mississippi River. Old Times on the Mississippi, a series of sketches published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1875, featured Twain’s disillusionment with Romanticism. Old Times eventually became the starting point for Life on the Mississippi.

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

Twain's next major publication was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which drew on his youth in Hannibal. The character of Tom Sawyer was modeled on Twain as a child, with traces of two schoolmates, John Briggs and Will Bowen. The book also introduced in a supporting role the character of Huckleberry Finn, based on Twain's boyhood friend Tom Blankenship.

The Prince and the Pauper, despite a storyline that is omnipresent in film and literature today, was not as well received. Telling the story of two boys born on the same day who are physically identical, the book acts as a social commentary as the prince and pauper switch places. Pauper was Twain's first attempt at fiction, and blame for its shortcomings is usually put on Twain for having not been experienced enough in English society, and also on the fact that it was produced after a massive hit. In between the writing of Pauper, Twain had started Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which he consistently had problems completing[47]) and started and completed another travel book, A Tramp Abroad, which follows Twain as he traveled through central and southern Europe.

Twain's next major published work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, solidified him as a noteworthy American writer. Some have called it the first Great American Novel, and the book has become required reading in many schools throughout the United States. Huckleberry Finn was an offshoot from Tom Sawyer and had a more serious tone than its predecessor. The main premise behind Huckleberry Finn is the young boy's belief in the right thing to do even though the majority of society believes that it was wrong. Four hundred manuscript pages of Huckleberry Finn were written in mid-1876, right after the publication of Tom Sawyer. Some accounts have Twain taking seven years off after his first burst of creativity, eventually finishing the book in 1883. Other accounts have Twain working on Huckleberry Finn in tandem with The Prince and the Pauper and other works in 1880 and other years. The last fifth of Huckleberry Finn is subject to much controversy. Some say that Twain experienced, as critic Leo Marx puts it, a "failure of nerve". Ernest Hemingway once said of Huckleberry Finn:

If you read it, you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating.

Hemingway also wrote in the same essay:

All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn..[48]

Near the completion of Huckleberry Finn, Twain wrote Life on the Mississippi, which is said to have heavily influenced the former book.[31] The work recounts Twain's memories and new experiences after a 22-year absence from the Mississippi. In it, he also states that "Mark Twain" was the call made when the boat was in safe water – two fathoms.

Later writing

After his great work, Twain began turning to his business endeavors to keep them afloat and to stave off the increasing difficulties he had been having from his writing projects. Twain focused on President Ulysses S. Grant's Memoirs for his fledgling publishing company, finding time in between to write "The Private History of a Campaign That Failed" for The Century Magazine. This piece detailed his two-week stint in a Confederate militia during the Civil War. The name of his publishing company was Charles L. Webster & Company, which he owned with Charles L. Webster, his nephew by marriage.[49]

Twain in his old age

Twain next focused on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, which featured him making his first big pronouncement of disappointment with politics. Written with the same "historical fiction" style of The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee showed the absurdities of political and social norms by setting them in the court of King Arthur. The book was started in December 1885, then shelved a few months later until the summer of 1887, and eventually finished in the spring of 1889.

Twain had begun to furiously write articles and commentary with diminishing returns to pay the bills and keep his business projects afloat, but it was not enough. He filed for bankruptcy in 1894.

His next large-scale work, Pudd'nhead Wilson, was written rapidly, as Twain was desperately trying to stave off the bankruptcy. From November 12 to December 14, 1893, Twain wrote 60,000 words for the novel.[31] Critics have pointed to this rushed completion as the cause of the novel's rough organization and constant disruption of continuous plot. There were parallels between this work and Twain's financial failings, notably his desire to escape his current constraints and become a different person.

Like The Prince and the Pauper, this novel also contains the tale of two boys born on the same day who switch positions in life. Considering the circumstances of Twain's birth and Halley's Comet, and his strong belief in the paranormal, it is not surprising that these "mystic" connections recur throughout his writing.

The actual title is not clearly established. It was first published serially in Century Magazine, and when it was finally published in book form, Pudd'nhead Wilson appeared as the main title; however, the disputed "subtitles" make the entire title read: The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson and the Comedy of The Extraordinary Twins.[31]

Twain's next venture was a work of straight fiction that he called Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc and dedicated to his wife. Twain had long said that this was the work of which he was most proud, despite the criticism he received for it. The book had been a dream of his since childhood; he claimed that he had found a manuscript detailing the life of Joan of Arc when he was an adolescent.[31] This was another piece which Twain was convinced would save his publishing company. His financial adviser, Henry Huttleston Rogers, squashed that idea and got Twain out of that business altogether, but the book was published nonetheless.

During this time of dire financial straits, Twain published several literary reviews in newspapers to help make ends meet. He famously derided James Fenimore Cooper in his article detailing Cooper's "Literary Offenses". He became an extremely outspoken critic not only of other authors, but also of other critics, suggesting that before praising Cooper's work, Professors Loundsbury, Brander Matthes, and Wilkie Collins "ought to have read some of it".[50]

Other authors to fall under Twain's attack during this time period (beginning around 1890 until his death) were George Eliot, Jane Austen, and Robert Louis Stevenson.[51] In addition to providing a source for the "tooth and claw" style of literary criticism, Twain outlines in several letters and essays what he considers to be "quality writing". He places particular emphasis on concision, utility of word choice, and realism (he complains that Cooper's Deerslayer purports to be realistic but has several shortcomings). Ironically, several of his works were later criticized for lack of continuity (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) and organization (Pudd'nhead Wilson).

Twain's wife died in 1904 while the couple were staying at the Villa di Quarto in Florence, and after an appropriate time Twain allowed himself to publish some works that his wife, a de facto editor and censor throughout his life, had looked down upon. Of these works, The Mysterious Stranger, depicting various visits of Satan to the Earth, is perhaps the best known. This particular work was not published in Twain's lifetime. There were three versions found in his manuscripts made between 1897 and 1905: the Hannibal, Eseldorf, and Print Shop versions. Confusion between the versions led to an extensive publication of a jumbled version, and only recently have the original versions as Twain wrote them become available.

Twain's last work was his autobiography, which he dictated and thought would be most entertaining if he went off on whims and tangents in non-sequential order. Some archivists and compilers had a problem with this and rearranged the biography into a more conventional form, thereby eliminating some of Twain's humor and the flow of the book.

Friendship with Henry H. Rogers

While Twain credited Henry H. Rogers, a Standard Oil executive, with saving him from financial ruin, their close friendship in their later years was mutually beneficial. When Twain lost three of his four children and his beloved wife, the Rogers family increasingly became a surrogate family for him. He became a frequent guest at their townhouse in New York City, their 48-room summer home in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and aboard their steam yacht, the Kanawha.

A late life friendship for each, Mark Twain and Henry Huttleston Rogers in 1908

The two men introduced each other to their acquaintances. Twain was an admirer of the remarkable deafblind girl Helen Keller. He first met Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan at a party in the home of Laurence Hutton in New York City in the winter of 1894. Twain introduced them to Rogers, who, with his wife, paid for Keller's education at Radcliffe College. It was Twain who is credited with labeling Sullivan, Keller's governess and companion, a "miracle worker". His choice of words later became inspiration for the title of William Gibson's play and film adaptation, The Miracle Worker. Twain also introduced Rogers to journalist Ida M. Tarbell, who interviewed the robber baron for a muckraking expose that led indirectly to the breakup of the Standard Oil Trust. On cruises aboard the Kanawha, Twain and Rogers were joined at frequent intervals by Booker T. Washington, the famed former slave who had become a leading educator.

While the two famous old men were widely regarded as drinking and poker buddies, they also exchanged letters when apart, and this was often since each traveled a great deal. Unlike Rogers' personal files, which have never become public, these insightful letters were published.[52] The written exchanges between the two men demonstrate Twain's well-known sense of humor and, more surprisingly, Rogers' sense of fun, providing a rare insight into the private side of the robber baron.

In April 1907, Twain and Rogers cruised to the opening of the Jamestown Exposition in Virginia. Twain's public popularity was such that many fans took boats out to the Kanawha at anchor in hopes of getting a glimpse of him. As the gathering of boats around the yacht became a safety hazard, he finally obliged by coming on deck and waving to the crowds.

Because of poor weather conditions, the steam yacht was delayed for several days from venturing into the Atlantic Ocean. Rogers and some of the others in his party returned to New York by rail; Twain disliked train travel and so elected to wait and return on the Kanawha. However, reporters lost track of his whereabouts; when he failed to return to New York City as scheduled, The New York Times speculated that he might have been "lost at sea". Upon arriving safely in New York and learning of this, the humorist wrote a satirical article about the episode, offering to "...make an exhaustive investigation of this report that I have been lost at sea. If there is any foundation for the report, I will at once apprise the anxious public".[53] This bore similarities to an earlier event in 1897 when he made his famous remark "The report of my death was an exaggeration", after a reporter was sent to investigate whether he had died. In fact, it was his cousin who was seriously ill.

Later that year, Twain and Rogers's son, Henry Jr., returned to the Jamestown Exposition aboard the Kanawha. The humorist helped host Robert Fulton Day on September 23, 1907, celebrating the centennial of Fulton's invention of the steamboat. Twain, filling in for ailing former U.S. President Grover Cleveland, introduced Rear Admiral Purnell Harrington. Twain was met with a five-minute standing ovation; members of the audience cheered and waved their hats and umbrellas. Deeply touched, Twain said, "When you appeal to my head, I don't feel it; but when you appeal to my heart, I do feel it".[54]

In April 1909, the two old friends returned to Norfolk, Virginia for the banquet in honor of Rogers and his newly completed Virginian Railway. Twain was the keynote speaker in one of his last public appearances, and was widely quoted in newspapers across the country.[55]

A month later, Twain was en route from Connecticut to visit his friend in New York City when Rogers died suddenly on May 20, 1909. Twain arrived at Grand Central Station to be met by his daughter with the news. Stricken with grief, he uncustomarily avoided news reporters who had gathered, saying only "This is terrible...I cannot talk about it". Two days later, he served as an honorary pallbearer at the funeral in New York City. However, he declined to join the funeral party on the train ride for the interment at Fairhaven. He said "I cannot bear to travel with my friend and not converse".

Political views

Although Twain remained neutral during the Civil War, his views became more radical as he grew older. He acknowledged that his views changed and developed over his life, referring to one of his favorite works:

When I finished Carlyle's French Revolution in 1871, I was a Girondin; every time I have read it since, I have read it differently – being influenced and changed, little by little, by life and environment ... and now I lay the book down once more, and recognize that I am a Sansculotte! – And not a pale, characterless Sansculotte, but a Marat.[56]

In the New York Herald, October 15, 1900, he describes his transformation and political awakening, in the context of the Philippine-American War, from being "a red-hot imperialist":

I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific ...Why not spread its wings over the Philippines, I asked myself? ... I said to myself, Here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American Constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which we had addressed ourselves. But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the treaty of Paris [which ended the Spanish-American War], and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.[57]

Anti-imperialism

From 1901, soon after his return from Europe, until his death in 1910, Twain was vice-president of the American Anti-Imperialist League,[58] which opposed the annexation of the Philippines by the United States and had "tens of thousands of members".[25] He wrote many political pamphlets for the organization. The Incident in the Philippines, posthumously published in 1924, was in response to the Moro Crater Massacre, in which six hundred Moros were killed. Many of his neglected and previously uncollected writings on anti-imperialism appeared for the first time in book form in 1992.[59]

Twain was critical of imperialism in other countries as well. In Following the Equator, Twain expresses "hatred and condemnation of imperialism of all stripes".[25] He was highly critical of European imperialism, notably of Cecil Rhodes, who greatly expanded the British Empire, and of Leopold II, King of the Belgians.[25] King Leopold's Soliloquy is a stinging political satire about his private colony, the Congo Free State. Reports of outrageous exploitation and grotesque abuses led to widespread international protest in the early 1900s, arguably the first large-scale human rights movement. In the soliloquy, the King argues that bringing Christianity to the country outweighs a little starvation. Leopold's rubber gatherers were tortured, maimed and slaughtered until the turn of the century, when the conscience of the Western world forced Brussels to call a halt.[citation needed]

Pacifism

During the Philippine-American War, Twain wrote a short pacifist story entitled The War Prayer, which makes the point that humanism and Christianity's preaching of love are incompatible with the conduct of war. It was submitted to Harper's Bazaar for publication, but on March 22, 1905 the magazine rejected the story as "not quite suited to a woman's magazine". Eight days later, Twain wrote to his friend Daniel Carter Beard, to whom he had read the story, "I don't think the prayer will be published in my time. None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth". Because he had an exclusive contract with Harper & Brothers, Twain could not publish The War Prayer elsewhere; it remained unpublished until 1923. It was republished as campaigning material by Vietnam War protesters.[25]

Attitude towards revolutions

I am said to be a revolutionist in my sympathies, by birth, by breeding and by principle. I am always on the side of the revolutionists, because there never was a revolution unless there were some oppressive and intolerable conditions against which to revolt.[60]

As pointed out previously, Twain acknowledged that he originally sympathized with the more moderate Girondins of the French Revolution and then shifted his sympathies to the more radical Sansculottes, indeed identifying as "a Marat".

Twain supported the revolutionaries in Russia against the reformists, arguing that the Tsar must be got rid of, by violent means, because peaceful ones would not work.[61]

Abolition, emancipation, and anti-racism

Twain was an adamant supporter of abolition and emancipation, even going so far to say “Lincoln's Proclamation ... not only set the black slaves free, but set the white man free also.”[62] He argued that non-whites did not receive justice in the United States, once saying “I have seen Chinamen abused and maltreated in all the mean, cowardly ways possible to the invention of a degraded nature....but I never saw a Chinaman righted in a court of justice for wrongs thus done to him.”[63] He paid for at least one black person to attend Yale University Law School and for another black person to attend a southern university to become a minister.[64]

Women's rights

Mark Twain was a staunch supporter of women's rights and an active campaigner for women's suffrage. His "Votes for Women" speech, in which he pressed for the granting of voting rights to women, is considered one of the most famous in history.[65]

Native Americans

Twain's liberal views on race were not shown in his early sketches of Native Americans. Of them, Twain wrote in 1870:

His heart is a cesspool of falsehood, of treachery, and of low and devilish instincts. With him, gratitude is an unknown emotion; and when one does him a kindness, it is safest to keep the face toward him, lest the reward be an arrow in the back. To accept of a favor from him is to assume a debt which you can never repay to his satisfaction, though you bankrupt yourself trying. The scum of the earth![66]

As counterpoint, Twain's essay on "The Literary Offenses of Fenimore Cooper" offers a much kinder view of Indians.[67] "No, other Indians would have noticed these things, but Cooper's Indians never notice anything. Cooper thinks they are marvelous creatures for noticing, but he was almost always in error about his Indians. There was seldom a sane one among them".[68] In his later travelogue Following the Equator (1897), Twain observes that in colonized lands all over the world, "savages" have always been wronged by "whites" in the most merciless ways, such as "robbery, humiliation, and slow, slow murder, through poverty and the white man's whiskey"; his conclusion is that "there are many humorous things in this world; among them the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages".[69]

Labor unions

He wrote glowingly about unions in the riverboating industry in Life on the Mississippi, which was read in union halls decades later.[70] He supported the labor movement in general, especially one of the most important unions, the Knights of Labor.[71] In a speech to them, he said:

Who are the oppressors? The few: the King, the capitalist, and a handful of other overseers and superintendents. Who are the oppressed? The many: the nations of the earth; the valuable personages; the workers; they that make the bread that the soft-handed and idle eat.[72]

Vivisection

Twain was opposed to vivisection of any kind, not on a scientific basis but rather an ethical one.[73]

I am not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn't. ... The pain which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further.

Religion

Although Twain was raised as a Presbyterian, he was critical of organized religion and certain elements of Christianity through most of his later life. He wrote, for example, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so", and "If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be – a Christian".[74]

Twain generally avoided publishing his most "heretic" opinions on religion in his lifetime, and they are known from essays and stories that were published later. In the essay Three Statements of the Eighties in the 1880s, Twain stated that he believed in an almighty God, but not in any messages, revelations, holy scriptures such as the Bible, providence, or retribution in the afterlife. He did believe that "the goodness, the justice, and the mercy of God are manifested in His works", but also that "the universe is governed by strict and immutable laws", which determine "small matters" such as who dies in a pestilence.[75] In later writings in the 1890s, he was less optimistic about the goodness of God, observing that "if our Maker is all-powerful for good or evil, He is not in His right mind". At other times, he conjectured sardonically that perhaps God had created the world with all its tortures for some purpose of His own, but was otherwise indifferent to humanity, which was too petty and insignificant to deserve His attention anyway.[76]

In 1901 Twain criticized the actions of missionary Dr. William Scott Ament (1851–1909) as a consequence of the fact that Ament and other missionaries had collected indemnities from Chinese subjects in the aftermath of the Boxer Uprising of 1900. Twain's response to hearing of Ament's methods was published in the North American Review in February 1901: To the Person Sitting in Darkness', and deals with examples of imperialism in China, South Africa, and with the U.S. occupation of the Philippines.[77] A subsequent article, "To My Missionary Critics" published in The North American Review in April 1901, unapologetically continues his attack, but with the focus shifted from Ament to his missionary superiors, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.[78]

After his death, Twain's family suppressed some of his work which was especially irreverent toward conventional religion, notably Letters from the Earth, which was not published until his daughter Clara reversed her position in 1962 in response to Soviet propaganda about the withholding.[79] The anti-religious The Mysterious Stranger was published in 1916. Little Bessie, a story ridiculing Christianity, was first published in the 1972 collection Mark Twain's Fables of Man.[80]

Despite these views, he raised money to build a Presbyterian Church in Nevada in 1864, although it has been argued that it was only by his association with his Presbyterian brother that he did that.[81]

Freemasonry

Twain was a Freemason.[82][83] He belonged to Polar Star Lodge No. 79 A.F.&A.M., based in St. Louis. He was initiated an Entered Apprentice on May 22, 1861, passed to the degree of Fellow Craft on June 12, and raised to the degree of Master Mason on July 10.

Legacy

A statue of Mark Twain at Mark Twain Elementary School in the Braeswood Place neighborhood of Houston, Texas

Twain's legacy lives on today as his namesakes continue to multiply. Several schools are named after him, including Mark Twain Elementary School in Houston, Texas, which has a statue of Twain sitting on a bench, and Mark Twain Intermediate School in New York. There are several schools named Mark Twain Middle School in different states, as well as Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, near San Antonio, Texas. There are also other structures, such as the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge.

Mark Twain Village is a United States Army installation located in the Südstadt district of Heidelberg, Germany. It is one of two American bases in the United States Army Garrison Heidelberg that house American soldiers and their families (the other being Patrick Henry Village).

Awards in his name proliferate. In 1998, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts created the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, awarded annually. The Mark Twain Award is an award given annually to a book for children in grades four through eight by the Missouri Association of School Librarians. Stetson University in DeLand, Florida sponsors the Mark Twain Young Authors' Workshop each summer in collaboration with the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal. The program is open to young authors in grades five through eight.[84] The museum sponsors the Mark Twain Creative Teaching Award.[85]

A plaque honoring Mark Twain on the Sydney Writers Walk in Sydney, Australia

Buildings associated with Twain, including some of his many homes, have been preserved as museums. His birthplace is preserved in Florida, Missouri. The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal, Missouri preserves the setting for some of the author's best known work. The home of childhood friend Laura Hawkins, said to be the inspiration for his fictional character Becky Thatcher, is preserved as the "Thatcher House".In May 2007, a painstaking reconstruction of the home of Tom Blankenship, the inspiration for Huckleberry Finn, was opened to the public. The family home he had built in Hartford, Connecticut, where he and his wife raised their three daughters, is preserved and open to visitors as the Mark Twain House.

Actor Hal Holbrook created a one-man show called Mark Twain Tonight, which he has performed regularly for 50 years. The broadcast by CBS in 1967 won him an Emmy Award. Of the three runs on Broadway (1966, 1977, and 2005), the first won him a Tony Award.

Additionally, like countless influential individuals, Twain was honored by having an asteroid, 2362 Mark Twain, named after him.

Often, Twain is depicted in pop culture as wearing a white suit. While there is evidence that suggests that, after Livy's death in 1904, Twain began wearing white suits on the lecture circuit, modern representations suggesting that he wore them throughout his life are unfounded. There is no evidence of him wearing a white suit before 1904; however, it did eventually become his trademark, as illustrated in anecdotes about this eccentricity (such as the time he wore a white summer suit to a Congressional hearing during the winter).[31] McMasters' "Mark Twain Encyclopedia" states that Twain did not wear a white suit in his last three years, except at one banquet speech.[86]

Pen names

Twain used different pen names before deciding on Mark Twain. He signed humorous and imaginative sketches Josh until 1863. Additionally, he used the pen name Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass for a series of humorous letters.[87]

He maintained that his primary pen name came from his years working on Mississippi riverboats, where two fathoms, a depth indicating safe water for passage of boat, was measured on the sounding line. A fathom is a maritime unit of depth, equivalent to two yards (1.8 m); twain is an archaic term for "two". The riverboatman's cry was mark twain or, more fully, by the mark twain, meaning "according to the mark [on the line], [the depth is] two [fathoms]", that is, "there are 12 feet (3.7 m) of water under the boat and it is safe to pass".

Twain claimed that his famous pen name was not entirely his invention. In Life on the Mississippi, he wrote:

Captain Isaiah Sellers was not of literary turn or capacity, but he used to jot down brief paragraphs of plain practical information about the river, and sign them "MARK TWAIN", and give them to the New Orleans Picayune. They related to the stage and condition of the river, and were accurate and valuable; ... At the time that the telegraph brought the news of his death, I was on the Pacific coast. I was a fresh new journalist, and needed a nom de guerre; so I confiscated the ancient mariner's discarded one, and have done my best to make it remain what it was in his hands – a sign and symbol and warrant that whatever is found in its company may be gambled on as being the petrified truth; how I have succeeded, it would not be modest in me to say.[88]

Twain's version of the story regarding his nom de plume has been questioned by biographer George Williams III,[89] the Territorial Enterprise newspaper,[90] and Purdue University's Paul Fatout.[91] which claim that mark twain refers to a running bar tab that Twain would regularly incur while drinking at John Piper's saloon in Virginia City, Nevada.

Bibliography

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Twainweb.net. Wesley Britton, September 1997. Mark Twain: "Cradle Skeptic"
  2. ^ anonymous. "Mark Twain". www.guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/jun/11/marktwain. 
  3. ^ "The Mark Twain House Biography". http://www.marktwainhouse.org/theman/bio.shtml. Retrieved 2006-10-24. 
  4. ^ "Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn". http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi/aa/writers/twain/huckfinn_1. Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  5. ^ "Mark Twain quotations". http://www.twainquotes.com/. Retrieved 2006-10-24. 
  6. ^ "Mark Twain Quotes – The Quotations Page". http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Mark_Twain/. Retrieved 2006-10-24. 
  7. ^ "Obituary (New York Times)". http://marktwainclassics.com/marktwain/obituary-new-york-times/. Retrieved 2009-12-27. 
  8. ^ Jelliffe, Robert A. (1956). Faulkner at Nagano. Tokyo: Kenkyusha, Ltd. 
  9. ^ Kaplan, Fred (October 2007). "Chapter 1: The Best Boy You Had 1835–1847". The Singular Mark Twain. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-47715-5. . Cited in ""Excerpt: The Singular Mark Twain". About.com: Literature: Classic. http://classiclit.about.com/library/weekly/aafpr113003b.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  10. ^ "Mark Twain Ancestry". http://www.goggin.co.uk/familytree/familytree.htm. 
  11. ^ "Mark Twain's Family Tree" (PDF). http://marktwainhouse.org/theman/twain_tree.pdf. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  12. ^ Scott Specialized Catalog of U.S. Stamps & Covers, various editions, catalogue number UC60, issued in Hannibal MO
  13. ^ "Mark Twain, American Author and Humorist". http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/95nov/twain.html. Retrieved 2006-10-25. 
  14. ^ Lindborg, Henry J.. "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn". Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. http://encarta.msn.com/sidebar_701509634/Adventures_of_Huckleberry_Finn_The.html. Retrieved 2006-11-11. 
  15. ^ "John Marshall Clemens". State Historical Society of Missouri. http://shs.umsystem.edu/famousmissourians/writers/clemens/jmclemens.html. Retrieved 2007-10-29. 
  16. ^ Philip S. Foner, Mark Twain: Social Critic (New York: International Publishers, 1958), p. 13, cited in Helen Scott's "The Mark Twain they didn’t teach us about in school" (2000) in the International Socialist Review 10, Winter 2000, pp. 61–65, at [1]
  17. ^ Life on the Mississippi, chapter 15
  18. ^ Autobiography
  19. ^ For more of an account of Twain's involvement with parapsychology, see Blum, Deborah, Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death" (Penguin Press, (2006).
  20. ^ a b "Mark Twain Biography". The Hannibal Courier-Post. http://www.marktwainhannibal.com/twain/biography/. Retrieved 2008-11-25. 
  21. ^ Comstock Commotion: The Story of the Territorial Enterprise and Virginia City News, Chapter 2.
  22. ^ "Mark Twain quotations". http://www.twainquotes.com/teindex.html. 
  23. ^ The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. Samuel Dickson. Isadora Duncan (1878–1927). Retrieved on July 9, 2009.
  24. ^ a b "Samuel Clemens". PBS:The West. http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/people/a_c/clemens.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-25. 
  25. ^ a b c d e Scott, Helen (Winter 2000), "The Mark Twain they didn’t teach us about in school", International Socialist Review, 10, pp. 61–65 
  26. ^ "The Mark Twain House and Museum: History of the House". The Mark Twain House & Museum. http://www.marktwainhouse.org/thehouse/house.shtml. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  27. ^ "Mrs. Jacques Samossoud Dies; Mark Twain's Last Living Child; Released 'Letters From Earth'". New York Times. November 21, 1962, Wednesday. "San Diego, California, Nov. 20 (UPI) Mrs. Clara Langhorne Clemens Samossoud, the last living child of Mark Twain, died last night in Sharp Memorial Hospital. She was 88 years old." 
  28. ^ J. Niemann, Paul. Invention Mysteries (Invention Mysteries Series). Horsefeathers Publishing Company. pp. 53–54. ISBN 0-9748041-0-X. http://books.google.ca/books?id=TFjBk0tn9A4C&pg=PA52&lpg=PA52&dq=Mark+Twain+inventions&source=bl&ots=q-OTBL-wYt&sig=vFcfQq0jQB1XvARw16mqAUGprqA&hl=en&ei=8jerStj8LZSStgP2g6ntCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2#v=onepage&q=Mark%20Twain%20inventions&f=false. 
  29. ^ Mark Twain and Robert Tine (2004). The Prince and the Pauper. p. 224. http://books.google.ca/books?id=NmMm1x0eynMC&pg=PA224&lpg=PA224&dq=The+Prince+and+the+Pauper+1909+film&source=bl&ots=uqTfB7aePM&sig=mjHsvviMkzFeqg1vHh1eH5O8_TI&hl=en&ei=uKpuStboGYnatgPt4tzlAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5. 
  30. ^ Mark Twain House website - Paige Compositor page
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h Kirk, Connie Ann (2004), Mark Twain – A Biography, Connecticut: Greenwood Printing, ISBN 0-313-33025-5 
  32. ^ Lauber, John. The Inventions of Mark Twain: a Biography. New York: Hill and Wang, 1990.
  33. ^ Barbara Schmidt. "Chronology of Known Mark Twain Speeches, Public Readings, and Lectures". marktwainquotes.com. http://www.twainquotes.com/SpeechIndex.html. Retrieved February 7, 2010. 
  34. ^ Cox, James M. Mark Twain: The Fate of Humor. Princeton University Press, 1966.
  35. ^ "History of Dollis Hill House". Dollis Hill House Trust. 2006. http://www.dollishillhouse.co.uk/history.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-03. 
  36. ^ Paine, A. B., Mark Twain: A Biography, Harper, 1912 page 1095
  37. ^ LeMaster J. R., The Mark Twain Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, 1993 page 50
  38. ^ "The Mark Twain House". http://www.marktwainhouse.org/theman/bio.shtml. Retrieved 2006-11-17. 
  39. ^ TwainQuotes.com The Story Behind the A. F. Bradley Photos, Retrieved on July 10, 2009.
  40. ^ LeMaster J. R., The Mark Twain Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, 1993 page 28
  41. ^ Albert Bigelow Paine. "Mark Twain, a Biography". http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/t/twain/mark/paine/. Retrieved 2006-11-01. 
  42. ^ Esther Lombardi, about.com. "Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)". http://classiclit.about.com/cs/profileswriters/p/aa_marktwain.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-01. 
  43. ^ "Mark Twain is Dead at 74. End Comes Peacefully at His New England Home After a Long Illness.". New York Times. April 22, 1910. "Danbury, Connecticut, April 21, 1910. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, "Mark Twain", died at 22 minutes after 6 to-night. Beside him on the bed lay a beloved book – it was Carlyle's " French Revolution" – and near the book his glasses, pushed away with a weary sigh a few hours before. Too weak to speak clearly, "Give me my glasses", he had written on a piece of paper." 
  44. ^ "Mark Twain's funeral". Twainquotes.com. http://www.twainquotes.com/19100424a.html. Retrieved 2008-12-04. 
  45. ^ Elmira Travel Information
  46. ^ Mark Twain Cabin historical marker sign
  47. ^ Powers, Ron (2005). Mark Twain: A Life. New York: Free Press. pp. 471–473. ISBN 9780743248990. 
  48. ^ from Chapter 1 of The Green Hills of Africa
  49. ^ "American Experience – People & Events: Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835–1910". PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/grant/peopleevents/p_twain.html. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  50. ^ Twain, Mark. Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses. From Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches and Essays, from 1891–1910. Edited by Louis J. Budd. New York: Library of America, 1992.
  51. ^ Feinstien, George W. "Tooth and Claw Criticism: Twain as Forerunner of Tooth-and-Claw Criticism". From Modern Language Notes, Jan. 1948 (p. 49–50).
  52. ^ see Mark Twain's Correspondence with Henry Huttleston Rogers, 1893–1909
  53. ^ Mark Twain Investigating. The New York Times, May 5, 1907.
  54. ^ A report in Norfolk's Virginian-Pilot newspaper
  55. ^ Mark Twain Delighted the Little Ones. Norfolk Ledge-Dispatch, Monday, April 5, 1909.
  56. ^ Andrew Jay Hoffman, Inventing Mark Twain: The Lives of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (New York: William Morrow, 1997), p. 8, cited in Helen Scott's "The Mark Twain they didn't teach us about in school" (2000) in International Socialist Review 10, Winter 2000, pp.61–65
  57. ^ From Andrew Jay Hoffman, Inventing Mark Twain: The Lives of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (New York: William Morrow, 1997), cited in Helen Scott's "The Mark Twain they didn't teach us about in school" (2000) in International Socialist Review 10, Winter 2000, pp.61–65
  58. ^ Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire: Anti-Imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War. (1992, Jim Zwick, ed.) ISBN 0-8156-0268-5
  59. ^ ibid Zwick
  60. ^ Maxwell Geismar, ed., Mark Twain and the Three Rs: Race, Religion, Revolution and Related Matters (Indianapolis: Bobs-Merrill, 1973), p.159
  61. ^ Maxwell Geismar, ed., Mark Twain and the Three Rs: Race, Religion, Revolution and Related Matters (Indianapolis: Bobs-Merrill, 1973), p.169, cited in Helen Scott's "The Mark Twain they didn’t teach us about in school" (2000) in International Socialist Review 10, Winter 2000, pp.61–65
  62. ^ Philip S. Foner, Mark Twain: Social Critic (New York: International Publishers, 1958), p. 200
  63. ^ Maxwell Geismar, ed., Mark Twain and the Three Rs: Race, Religion, Revolution and Related Matters (Indianapolis: Bobs-Merrill, 1973), p. 98
  64. ^ Paine, A. B., Mark Twain: A Biography, Harper, 1912 page 701
  65. ^ "The Votes for Women Speech by Mark Twain". Famousquotes.me.uk. 2007-05-25. http://www.famousquotes.me.uk/speeches/Mark_Twain/. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  66. ^ "Mark Twain, Indian Hater". Blue Corn Comics. 2001-05-28. http://www.bluecorncomics.com/twain.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-09. 
  67. ^ Literary Offenses of Fenimore Cooper by Mark Twain
  68. ^ Twain, Mark, In defense of Harriet Shelley and Other Essays, Harper & Brothers, 1918. page 68
  69. ^ Twain, Mark. 2008. Following the Equator. P.94-98
  70. ^ Philip S. Foner, Mark Twain: Social Critic (New York: International Publishers, 1958), p.98
  71. ^ Helen Scott's "The Mark Twain they didn’t teach us about in school" (2000) in International Socialist Review 10, Winter 2000, pp.61–65
  72. ^ Philip S. Foner, Mark Twain: Social Critic (New York: International Publishers, 1958), p. 200, cited in Helen Scott's "The Mark Twain they didn't teach us about in school" (2000) in International Socialist Review 10, Winter 2000, pp.61–65
  73. ^ "Mark Twain Quotations – Vivisection". http://www.twainquotes.com/Vivisection.html. Retrieved 2006-10-24. 
  74. ^ Huberman, Jack (2007). The Quotable Atheist. Nation Books. pp. 303–304. ISBN 781560259695. 
  75. ^ Twain, Mark, ed. by Paul Baender. 1973. What is man?: and other philosophical writings. P.56
  76. ^ Twain, Mark, ed. by Paul Baender. 1973. What is man?: and other philosophical writings. Pp.10, 486
  77. ^ Mark Twain, "To the Person Sitting in Darkness", The North American Review 182:531 (February 1901):161–176; AntiImperialist.com
  78. ^ Mark Twain, "To My Missionary Critics", The North American Review 172 (April 1901):520–534; AntiImperialist.com
  79. ^ Gelb, Arthur (August 24, 1962), "Anti-Religious Work by Twain, Long Withheld, to Be Published", The New York Times: 23, ISSN 1523315, http://www.twainquotes.com/19620824.html, retrieved 2008-04-22 
  80. ^ Twain, Mark (1972). "Little Bessie". in John S. Tuckey (ed.), Kenneth M. Sanderson (ed.), Bernard L. Stein (ed.), Frederick Anderson (ed.). Mark Twain's Fables of Man. California: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520020399. http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/twainbes.htm. 
  81. ^ "Church Aided by Twain Is in a Demolition Dispute". Associated Press. The New York Times. April 2, 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/02/us/02twain.html?fta=y. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  82. ^ "Grand Master of Missouri Lecture". http://mertsahinoglu.com/research/samuel-langhorne-clemens/. 
  83. ^ "Mark Twain Masonic Awareness Award: About The Award". http://www.msana.com/twainaward/about.html#about_twain. 
  84. ^ The First Annual Mark Twain Young Authors Workshop. Stenson University.
  85. ^ The Mark Twain Boyhood Home Museum: Education
  86. ^ "The Mark Twain encyclopedia – Google Books". Books.google.com. http://books.google.com/books?id=zW1k-XS6XLEC&pg=PA390&dq=twain+white+suit&sig=ACfU3U1lPZCblCQ1cJzmHE1PNFgI1g_f1A. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  87. ^ Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, (Charles Honce, James Bennet, ed.), Pascal Covici, Chicago, 1928
  88. ^ Life on the Mississippi, chapter 50
  89. ^ Williams, III, George (1999). "Mark Twain Leaves Virginia City for San Francisco". Mark Twain and the Jumping Frog of Calaveras County: How Mark Twain's humorous frog story launched his legendary career. Tree By The River Publishing. ISBN 0-935174-45-1.  Cited in ""Excerpt: The Singular Mark Twain". http://www.autographed-books.com/whoisgeorgewilliamsiii.html. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  90. ^ Origin of Twain's Name Revealed
  91. ^ Paul Fatout. “Mark Twain's Nom de Plume”. American Literature, v 34, n 1 (March, 1962), pp 1–7. doi:10.2307/2922241.
  92. ^ AntiImperialist.com

Further reading

  • Lucius Beebe. Comstock Commotion: The Story of the Territorial Enterprise and Virginia City News. Stanford University Press, 1954 ISBN 112218798X
  • Louis J. Budd, ed. Mark Twain, Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches & Essays 1891–1910 (Library of America, 1992) (ISBN 978-0-94045073-8)
  • Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan, and Geoffrey C. Ward, Mark Twain: An Illustrated Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001 (ISBN 0-3754-0561-5)
  • Gregg Camfield. The Oxford Companion to Mark Twain. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002 (ISBN 0-1951-0710-1)
  • Guy Cardwell, ed. Mark Twain, Mississippi Writings (Library of America, 1982) (ISBN 978-0-94045007-3)
  • Guy Cardwell, ed. Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad & Roughing It (Library of America, 1984) ISBN 978-0-94045025-7
  • James M. Cox. Mark Twain: The Fate of Humor. Princeton University Press, 1966 (ISBN 0-8262-1428-2)
  • Everett Emerson. Mark Twain: A Literary Life. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000 (ISBN 0-8122-3516-9)
  • Shelley Fisher Fishkin, ed. A Historical Guide to Mark Twain. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002 (ISBN 0-1951-3293-9)
  • Susan K. Harris, ed. Mark Twain, Historical Romances (Library of America, 1994) (ISBN 978-0-94045082-0)
  • Hamlin L. Hill, ed. Mark Twain, The Gilded Age and Later Novels (Library of America, 2002) ISBN 978-1-93108210-5
  • Jason Gary Horn. Mark Twain: A Descriptive Guide to Biographical Sources. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1999 (ISBN 0-8108-3630-0)
  • William Dean Howells. My Mark Twain. Mineloa, New York: Dover Publications, 1997 (ISBN 0-486-29640-7)
  • Fred Kaplan. The Singular Mark Twain: A Biography. New York: Doubleday, 2003 (ISBN 0-3854-7715-5)
  • Justin Kaplan. Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1966 (ISBN 0-6717-4807-6)
  • J. R. LeMaster and James D. Wilson, eds. The Mark Twain Encyclopedia. New York: Garland, 1993 (ISBN 0-8240-7212-X)
  • Bruce Michelson. Mark Twain on the Loose. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995 (ISBN 0-8702-3967-8)
  • Patrick K. Ober. Mark Twain and Medicine: "Any Mummery Will Cure". Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003 (ISBN 0-8262-1502-5)
  • Albert Bigelow Paine. Mark Twain, A Biography: The Personal and Literary Life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Harper & Bros., 1912. ISBN 1847029833
  • Ron Powers. Dangerous Water: A Biography of the Boy Who Became Mark Twain. New York: Da Capo Press, 1999. ISBN 0306810867
  • Ron Powers. Mark Twain: A Life. New York: Random House, 2005. (0-7432-4899-6)
  • R. Kent Rasmussen. Critical Companion to Mark Twain: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. Facts On File, 2007. Revised edition of Mark Twain A to Z ISBN 0816062250
  • R. Kent Rasmussen, ed. The Quotable Mark Twain: His Essential Aphorisms, Witticisms and Concise Opinions. Contemporary Books, 1997 ISBN 0809229870
  • Jerome Loving. Mark Twain: The Adventures of Samuel L. Clemens University of California Press, 2010 ISBN 9780520252578

External links

Works by Mark Twain
Academic studies
Life
Other

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Samuel Langhorne Clemens: Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American humorist, novelist, writer, and lecturer.

Contents

See also

Sourced

  • I haven't a particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices.
    • "Answers to Correspondents" (1865), reported in Early Tales & Sketches, v.2, 1864-1865, Branch and Hirst, ed. (1981).
  • Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run.
    • The Facts Concerning the Recent Resignation (1867).
  • He was ignorant of the commonest accomplishments of youth. He could not even lie.
    • From Brief Biographilas Sketch of George Washington, The celebrated jumping frog of Calaveras county, and other sketches, 1867, Mark Twain, ed. J. Paul, John Paul (of New York).
  • Tomorrow night I appear for the first time before a Boston audience — 4000 critics.
    • Letter to Pamela Clemens Moffet (November 9, 1869).
  • All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the "elect" have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so "slow," so sleepy; such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle — keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate. If he, according to tradition, merely translated it from certain ancient and mysteriously-engraved plates of copper, which he declares he found under a stone in an out-of-the-way locality, the work of translating was equally a miracle, for the same reason.
  • A crowded police docket is the surest of all signs that trade is brisk and money plenty.
  • Barring that natural expression of villainy which we all have, the man looked honest enough.
    • A Mysterious Visit (1875).
  • This poor little one-horse town.
    • The Undertaker's Chat (1875).
  • A baby is an inestimable blessing and bother.
    • Letter to Annie Webster (September 1, 1876).
  • The funniest things are the forbidden.
    • (1879)
    • Mark Twain's Notebooks & Journals, Vol. 2:1877-1883 (1975).
  • We haven't all had the good fortune to be ladies; we haven't all been generals, or poets, or statesmen; but when the toast works down to the babies, we stand on common ground.
    • Answering a toast, "To the babies," at a banquet in honor of General U.S. Grant (November 14, 1879).
  • Among the three or four million cradles now rocking in the land are some which this nation would preserve for ages as sacred things, if we could know which ones they are.
    • Answering a toast, "To the babies," at a banquet in honor of General U.S. Grant (November 14, 1879).
  • We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that the savage has, because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we gained by prying into that matter.
  • You may say a cat uses good grammar. Well, a cat does -- but you let a cat get excited once; you let a cat get to pulling fur with another cat on a shed, nights, and you'll hear grammar that will give you the lockjaw. Ignorant people think it's the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain't so; it's the sickening grammar they use.
  • Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
    • Draft manuscript (c.1881), quoted by Albert Bigelow Paine in Mark Twain: A Biography (1912).
  • Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any.
    • Advice to Youth (5/15/1882).
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter — it's the difference between a lightning bug and the lightning.
  • When the doctrine of allegiance to party can utterly up-end a man's moral constitution and make a temporary fool of him besides, what excuse are you going to offer for preaching it, teaching it, extending it, perpetuating it? Shall you say, the best good of the country demands allegiance to party? Shall you also say it demands that a man kick his truth and his conscience into the gutter, and become a mouthing lunatic, besides?
    • “Consistency”, (1884), paper read at the Hartford Monday Evening Club, following the Blaine-Cleveland Campaign, in The Complete Essays of Mark Twain, p. 582
  • Loyalty to petrified opinions never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world — and never will.
    • “Consistency”, (1884). This quote is engraved on Twain's bust in the National Hall of Fame.
  • He is now fast rising from affluence to poverty.
    • Henry Ward Beecher's Farm (1885).
  • He [George Washington Cable] has taught me to abhor and detest the Sabbath day and hunt up new and troublesome ways to dishonor it.
    • Letter to William Dean Howells (February 27, 1885).
  • It does look as if Massachusetts were in a fair way to embarrass me with kindnesses this year. In the first place, a Massachusetts judge has just decided in open court that a Boston publisher may sell, not only his own property in a free and unfettered way, but also may as freely sell property which does not belong to him but to me; property which he has not bought and which I have not sold. Under this ruling I am now advertising that judge's homestead for sale, and, if I make as good a sum out of it as I expect, I shall go on and sell out the rest of his property.
    • Letter of acceptance of membership to Concord Free Trade Club (March 28, 1885): Mark Twain, his life and work: a biographical sketch (1892), William Montgomery Clemens, Clemens Pub. Co.
  • The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter — it's the difference between a lightning bug and the lightning.
    • Letter to George Bainton (1888).
  • Weather is a literary specialty, and no untrained hand can turn out a good article on it.
    • The American Claimant, foreword (1892).
  • If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.
    • Notebook, 1894
  • James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London, but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness; the report of my death was an exaggeration.
    • Remarks reported in Frank Marshall White (14 December 1910) "Mark Twain as a Newspaper Reporter" Outlook. The joke is not original to Twain, having been used by Ulysses S. Grant in 1865.
  • I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.
    • American Claimant (1892)
  • A round man cannot be expected to fit in a square hole right away. He must have time to modify his shape.
    • More Tramps Abroad (1897).
  • [Citing a familiar "American joke":] In Boston they ask, How much does he know? In New York, How much is he worth? In Philadelphia, Who were his parents?
  • Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
    • Commonly quoted as: "First get your facts, then you can distort them at your leisure."
Rudyard Kipling, An Interview with Mark Twain, p. 180, From sea to sea: letters of travel, 1899, Doubleday & McClure Company. eBooks@Adelaide
  • Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments flit away and a sunny spirit takes their place.
  • 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.
    • The History of the Savage Club, speech (1899).
  • It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites.
    • Following the equator: a journey around the world (1899), 2:149
    • referencing the Kumbh Mela
  • He had only one vanity; he thought he could give advice better than any other person.
    • The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, (1900)
  • [A] classic - something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.
  • The silent colossal National Lie that is the support and confederate of all the tyrannies and shams and inequalities and unfairnesses that afflict the peoples — that is the one to throw bricks and sermons at.
  • [The human race], in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon — laughter.
    • "The Chronicle of Young Satan" (1900)
    • from Mark Twain's Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts, William M. Gibson, ed. (1969).
  • ...[H]eaven for climate, Hell for society.
    • Speech to the Acorn Society (1901)
  • also given as: Heaven for climate, Hell for companionship.
    • unsourced
  • Honesty is the best policy - when there is money in it.
    • Speech to Eastman College (1901)
  • The Blessings-of-Civilization Trust, wisely and cautiously administered, is a Daisy. There is more money in it, more territory, more sovereignty, and other kinds of emolument, than there is in any other game that is played. But Christendom has been playing it badly of late years, and must certainly suffer by it, in my opinion. She has been so eager to get every stake that appeared on the green cloth, that the People who Sit in Darkness have noticed it -- they have noticed it, and have begun to show alarm. They have become suspicious of the Blessings of Civilization.
  • Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.
    • To the Young People's Society, Greenpoint Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn (February 16, 1901)
  • To create man was a fine and original idea; but to add the sheep was a tautology.
    • St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 30, 1902
    • from Ron Powers, Mark Twain: A Life, p. 611)
  • Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is, I dunno. If the Eiffel Tower were now representing the world's age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its summit would represent man's share of that age; and anybody would perceive that the skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would, I dunno.
    • Was the World Made for Man?, 1903): also p.106, What is man?: and other philosophical writings, Volume 19 of Works, 1993, Mark Twain, Paul Baender, University of California Press.
  • To put it in rude, plain, unpalatable words — true patriotism, real patriotism: loyalty not to a Family and a Fiction, but a loyalty to the Nation itself!
    ..."Remember this, take this to heart, live by it, die for it if necessary: that our patriotism is medieval, outworn, obsolete; that the modern patriotism, the true patriotism, the only rational patriotism, is loyalty to the Nation ALL the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it." [Czar Nicholas II]
    • (1905)
    • Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays, 1891-1910 (1992) ed. Louis J. Budd
  • He is a stranger to me, but he is a most remarkable man — and I am the other one. Between us, we cover all knowledge; he knows all that can be known, and I know the rest.
    • (1906)
    • Mark Twain in Eruption: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events (1940) ed. Bernard DeVoto
  • The only reason why God created man is because he was disappointed with the monkey.
    • Autobiographical Dictation (1906)
  • A powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words in a book or a newspaper the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt.
    • Essay on William Dean Howells (1906)
  • Customs do not concern themselves with right or wrong or reason. But they have to be obeyed; one reasons all around them until he is tired, but he must not transgress them, it is sternly forbidden.
    • The Gorky Incident (1906)
  • Laws are sand, customs are rock. Laws can be evaded and punishment escaped, but an openly transgressed custom brings sure punishment.
    • The Gorky Incident (1906)
  • Most writers regard truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use.
    • In full: A critic never made or killed a book or a play. The people themselves are the final judges. It is their opinion that counts. After all, the final test is truth. But the trouble is that most writers regard truth as their most valuable possession and therefore are most economical in its use.
    • Said to portrait painter Samuel Johnson Woolf, cited in Here am I (1941), Samuel Johnson Woolf, Random House.
  • It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.
    • Mark Twain in Eruption: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events (1940) ed. Bernard DeVoto
  • The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
    • Christian Science (1907)
  • I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel that they have not said enough.
    • speech, September 23, 1907
  • Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.
    • Letter to an Unidentified Person (1908)
  • The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.
    • marginal note in Moncure D. Conway's Sacred Anthology
    • quoted by Albert Bigelow Paine in Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)
  • You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is.
    • Europe and Elsewhere. Corn Pone Opinions (1925)
  • We all do no end of feeling, and we mistake it for thinking. And out of it we get an aggregation which we consider a boon. Its name is public opinion. It is held in reverence. Some think it the voice of God.
    • Corn-Pone Opinions (1925)
  • The lack of money is the root of all evil.
    • More Maxims of Mark (1927) edited by Merle Johnson
  • Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
    • More Maxims of Mark (1927) edited by Merle Johnson
  • Always acknowledge a fault frankly. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you opportunity to commit more.
    • More Maxims of Mark (1927) edited by Merle Johnson
  • Humor must not professedly teach, and it must not professedly preach, I but it must do both if it would live forever. By forever, I mean thirty years.
    • Mark Twain in eruption: hitherto unpublished pages about men and events, 1940, Mark Twain, Bernard Augustine De Voto, Harper & brothers. This appears to be the origin of the variant:
    • If you would have your work last forever, and by forever I mean fifty years, it must neither overtly preach nor overtly teach, but it must covertly preach and covertly teach.
    • Attributed to Twain by J. Michael Straczynski in The complete book of scriptwriting, 2002, Writer's Digest Books.
  • Jesus died to save men — a small thing for an immortal to do, & didn't save many, anyway; but if he had been damned for the race that would have been act of a size proper to a god, & would have saved the whole race. However, why should anybody want to save the human race, or damn it either? Does God want its society? Does Satan?
    • Notebook #42
  • A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.
    • Mark Twain and I by Opie Read
  • I do not take any credit to my better-balanced head because I never went crazy on Presbyterianism. We go too slow for that. You never see us ranting and shouting and tearing up the ground, You never heard of a Presbyterian going crazy on religion. Notice us, and you will see how we do. We get up of a Sunday morning and put on the best harness we have got and trip cheerfully down town; we subside into solemnity and enter the church; we stand up and duck our heads and bear down on a hymn book propped on the pew in front when the minister prays; we stand up again while our hired choir are singing, and look in the hymn book and check off the verses to see that they don't shirk any of the stanzas; we sit silent and grave while the minister is preaching, and count the waterfalls and bonnets furtively, and catch flies; we grab our hats and bonnets when the benediction is begun; when it is finished, we shove, so to speak. No frenzy, no fanaticism --no skirmishing; everything perfectly serene. You never see any of us Presbyterians getting in a sweat about religion and trying to massacre the neighbors. Let us all be content with the tried and safe old regular religions, and take no chances on wildcat.
    • "The New Wildcat Religion"
  • Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered — either by themselves or by others. But for the Civil War, Lincoln and Grant and Sherman and Sheridan would not have been discovered, nor have risen into notice. ... I have touched upon this matter in a small book which I wrote a generation ago and which I have not published as yet — Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven. When Stormfield arrived in heaven he ... was told that ... a shoemaker ... was the most prodigious military genius the planet had ever produced.
    • The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1959 edition, edited by Charles Neider)
  • Adam, at Eve's grave: Wheresoever she was, THERE was Eden.
    • Eve's Diary

The Innocents Abroad (1869)

  • I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up.
    • Ch. 7
  • They spell it "Vinci" and pronounce it "Vinchy". Foreigners always spell better than they pronounce.
    • Ch. 19
  • I used to worship the mighty genius of Michael Angelo — that man who was great in poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture — great in every thing he undertook. But I do not want Michael Angelo for breakfast — for luncheon — for dinner — for tea — for supper — for between meals. I like a change, occasionally.
    • Ch. 27
  • Enough, enough, enough! Say no more! Lump the whole thing! say that the Creator made Italy from designs by Michael Angelo!
    • Ch. 27
  • Guides cannot master the subtleties of the American joke.
    • Ch. 27
  • I wish Europe would let Russia annihilate Turkey a little--not much, but enough to make it difficult to find the place again without a divining-rod or a diving-bell.
    • Ch. 42
  • In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.
    • Ch. 61
  • Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.
    • Conclusion

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)

  • Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden.
    • Ch. 2
  • He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it — namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain.
    • Ch. 2
  • Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do, and...Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.
    • Ch. 2
  • The minister gave out his text and droned along monotonously through an argument that was so prosy that many a head by and by began to nod — and yet it was an argument that dealt in limitless fire and brimstone and thinned the predestined elect down to a company so small as to be hardly worth the saving.
    • Ch. 5
  • There was no getting around the stubborn fact that taking sweetmeats was only "hooking," while taking bacon and hams and such valuables was plain simple stealing — and there was a command against that in the Bible. So they inwardly resolved that so long as they remained in the business, their piracies should not again be sullied with the crime of stealing.
    • Ch. 13
  • To promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing.
    • Ch. 22
  • She makes me get up just at the same time every morning; she makes me wash, they comb me all to thunder; she won't let me sleep in the woodshed; I got to wear them blamed clothes that just smothers me, Tom; they don't seem to let any air git through 'em, somehow; and they're so rotten nice that I can't set down, nor lay down, nor roll around anywher's; I hain't slid on a cellar-door for — well, it 'pears to be years; I got to go to church and sweat and sweat — I hate them ornery sermons! I can't ketch a fly in there, I can't chaw. I got to wear shoes all Sunday. The widder eats by a bell; she goes to bed by a bell; she gits up by a bell — everything's so awful reg'lar a body can't stand it.
    • Ch. 35

New England Weather, speech to the New England Society (December 22, 1876)

  • There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger's admiration — and regret. The weather is always doing something there; always attending strictly to business; always getting up new designs and trying them on people to see how they will go. But it gets through more business in spring than in any other season. In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of twenty-four hours.
  • Probable nor'east to sou'west winds, varying to the soutard and westard and eastard and points between; high and low barometer, sweeping round from place to place; probable areas of rain, snow, hail, and drought, succeeded or preceded by earthquakes with thunder and lightning.
  • One of the brightest gems in the New England weather is the dazzling uncertainty of it.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

  • 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.
    BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR.
    • Notice
  • You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.
    • Ch. 1
  • Jim was most ruined for a servant, because he got stuck up on account of having seen the devil and been rode by witches.
    • Ch. 2
  • We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn't ever feel like talking loud, and it warn't often that we laughed, only a little kind of a low chuckle. We had mighty good weather as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all, that night, nor the next, nor the next.
    • Ch. 12
  • Pilgrim's Progress, about a man that left his family, it didn't say why. I read considerable in it now and then. The statements was interesting, but tough.
    • Ch. 17
  • There warn't anybody at the church, except maybe a hog or two, for there warn't any lock on the door, and hogs likes a puncheon floor in summer-time because it's cool. If you notice, most folks don't go to church only when they've got to; but a hog is different.
    • Ch. 18
  • We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.
    • Ch. 18
  • To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin.
    • Ch. 21
  • H'aint we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?
    • Ch. 26
  • I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself, "All right, then, I'll GO to hell."
    • Ch. 31

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)

  • Why, it was like reading about France and the French, before the ever memorable and blessed Revolution, which swept a thousand years of such villany away in one swift tidal-wave of blood -- one: a settlement of that hoary debt in the proportion of half a drop of blood for each hogshead of it that had been pressed by slow tortures out of that people in the weary stretch of ten centuries of wrong and shame and misery the like of which was not to be mated but in hell. There were two "Reigns of Terror," if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the "horrors" of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe, compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror -- that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.
  • The citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth's political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal, he is a traitor. That he may be the only one who thinks he sees this decay, does not excuse him: it is his duty to agitate anyway, and it is the duty of others to vote him down if they do not see the matter as he does.
    • Ch. 13
  • My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death.
    • Ch. 13
  • The pilgrims were human beings. Otherwise they would have acted differently. They had come a long and difficult journey, and now when the journey was nearly finished, and they learned that the main thing they had come for had ceased to exist, they didn't do as horses or cats or angle-worms would probably have done — turn back and get at something profitable — no, anxious as they had before been to see the miraculous fountain, they were as much as forty times as anxious now to see the place where it had used to be. There is no accounting for human beings.
  • Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
    • Ch. 22
  • Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.
    • Ch. 22
  • It is a mystery that is hidden from me by reason that the emergency requiring the fathoming of it hath not in my life-days occurred, and so, not having no need to know this thing, I abide barren of the knowledge.
  • You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

How To Tell A Story (1895)

  • The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it.
  • To string incongruities and absurdities together in a wandering and sometimes purposeless way, and seem innocently unaware that they are absurdities, is the basis of the American art, if my position is correct.

Concerning the Jews (Harper's Magazine, Sept. 1899)

  • I have no race 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.
  • I have no special regard for Satan; but, I can at least claim that I have no prejudice against him. It may even be that I lean a little his way, on account of his not having a fair show. All religions issue bibles against him, and say the most injurious things about him, but we never hear his side. We have none but the evidence for the prosecution, and yet we have rendered the verdict. To my mind, this is irregular. It is un-English, it is un-American; it is French.
  • The Jew is not a disturber of the peace of any country. Even his enemies will concede that. He is not a loafer, he is not a sot, he is not noisy, he is not a brawler nor a rioter, he is not quarrelsome. In the statistics of crime his presence is conspicuously rare — in all countries. With murder and other crimes of violence he has but little to do: he is a stranger to the hangman. In the police court's daily long roll of "assaults" and "drunk and disorderlies" his name seldom appears ...
  • A Jewish beggar is not impossible, perhaps; such a thing may exist, but there are few men that can say they have seen that spectacle.
  • These facts are all on the credit side of the proposition that the Jew is a good and orderly citizen. Summed up, they certify that he is quiet, peaceable, industrious, unaddicted to high crimes and brutal dispositions; that his family life is commendable; that he is not a burden upon public charities; that he is not a beggar; that in benevolence he is above the reach of competition. These are the very quint-essentials of good citizenship.
  • If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvellous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

What Is Man? (1906)

  • It may be called the Master Passion, the hunger for self-approval.
    • Ch. 6
  • The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.
    • Ch. 6

Letter to Mrs. F. G. Whitmore (February 7, 1907)

  • But the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn't anger me.

True Citizenship at the Children's Theater 1907

  • Citizenship? We have none! In place of it we teach patriotism which Samuel Johnson said a hundred and forty or a hundred and fifty years ago was the last refuge of the scoundrel -- and I believe that he was right. I remember when I was a boy and I heard repeated time and time again the phrase, 'My country, right or wrong, my country!' How absolutely absurd is such an idea. How absolutely absurd to teach this idea to the youth of the country.

Christian Science 1907

  • When I, a thoughtful and unblessed Presbyterian, examine the Koran, I know that beyond any question every Mohammedan is insane; not in all things, but in religious matters. When a thoughtful and unblessed Mohammedan examines the Westminster Catechism, he knows that beyond any question I am spiritually insane. I cannot prove to him that he is insane, because you never can prove anything to a lunatic--for that is a part of his insanity and the evidence of it. He cannot prove to me that I am insane, for my mind has the same defect that afflicts his. All Democrats are insane, but not one of them knows it; none but the Republicans and Mugwumps know it. All the Republicans are insane, but only the Democrats and Mugwumps can perceive it. The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.

A Horse's Tale

  • Herodotus says, "Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all. The conscientious historian will correct these defects".
    • Acknowledgements
    • Twain does not quote Herodotus here, he only sums up what he believes to have been Herodotus' approach to the writing of history. Nevertheless, these are now often quoted as being the very words of Herodotus.

Albert Bigelow Paine's Mark Twain, A Biography (1912)

  • He [Mark Twain] spoke of humor, and thought it must be one of the chief attributes of God. He cited plants and animals that were distinctly humorous in form and in their characteristics. These he declared were God’s jokes.

The Mysterious Stranger (1916)

Online text
  • There has never been a just one, never an honorable one — on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful — as usual — will shout for the war. The pulpit will — warily and cautiously — object — at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it." Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers — as earlier — but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation — pulpit and all — will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.
    • originally in The Chronicle of Satan (1905)
  • Only laughter can blow [a colossal humbug] to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.
  • A God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell — mouths mercy, and invented hell — mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused slave to worship him!
  • There is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a Dream, a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And You are but a Thought — a vagrant Thought, a useless Thought, a homeless Thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities.

Bible Teaching and Religious Practice (1923)

  • We began to stir against slavery. Hearts grew soft, here, there, and yonder. There was no place in the land where the seeker could not find some small budding sign of pity for the slave. No place in all the land but one—the pulpit. It yielded at last; it always does. It fought a strong and stubborn fight, and then did what it always does, joined the procession—at the tail end. Slavery fell. The slavery text remained; the practice changed, that was all.
  • During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. the Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumb-screws, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. Who discovered that there was no such thing as a witch—the priest, the parson? No, these never discover anything. … There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain.

Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)

  • Biographies are but clothes and buttons of the man — the biography of the man himself cannot be written.
    • Vol. I, p. 2
  • Of all the creatures that were made he [man] is the most detestable. Of the entire brood he is the only one — the solitary one — that possesses malice. That is the basest of all instincts, passions, vices — the most hateful...He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain...Also — in all the list he is the only creature that has a nasty mind.
    • Vol. II, p. 7
  • The trade of critic, in literature, music, and the drama, is the most degraded of all trades.
    • Vol. II, p. 69
  • There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.
    • p. 98
  • In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue, but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.
    • In revised edition, chapter 78, p. 401, The Autobiography of Mark Twain, 1959, Charles Neider, Harper & Row.

Mark Twain's Notebook (1935)

  • France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country.
  • God's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.
  • France has usually been governed by prostitutes.
  • The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.
  • Familiarity breeds contempt — and children.
  • Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.
  • Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them.
  • Death, the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all — the soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved.
    • Memorandum written on his deathbed
  • In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned.
    When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.
  • Surely the test of a novel's characters is that you feel a strong interest in them and their affairs—the good to be successful, the bad to suffer failure. Well, in John Ward, you feel no divided interest, no discriminating interest—you want them all to land in hell together, and right away.
  • None but the dead have free speech.
    • p.393
  • Some men worship rank, some worship heroes, some worship power, some worship God, & over these ideals they dispute & cannot unite — but they all worship money.
    • p.343
  • Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned.
    • p.346
  • Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.
    • p.381
  • Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.
    • p.393
      • Alternate (also Twain's): Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause & reflect.
  • "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot"
    • p.413

Papers of the Adams Family

  • Against our traditions we are now entering upon an unjust and trivial war, a war against a helpless people, and for a base object — robbery. At first our citizens spoke out against this thing, by an impulse natural to their training. Today they have turned, and their voice is the other way. What caused the change? Merely a politician's trick — a high-sounding phrase, a blood-stirring phrase which turned their uncritical heads: Our Country, right or wrong! An empty phrase, a silly phrase. It was shouted by every newspaper, it was thundered from the pulpit, the Superintendent of Public Instruction placarded it in every schoolhouse in the land, the War Department inscribed it upon the flag. And every man who failed to shout it or who was silent, was proclaimed a traitor — none but those others were patriots. To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, "Our Country, right or wrong," and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation?
    For in a republic, who is "the Country"? Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant — merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. Who, then, is "the country?" Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Is it the school-superintendent? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it; they have not command, they have only their little share in the command. They are but one in the thousand; it is in the thousand that command is lodged; they must determine what is right and what is wrong; they must decide who is a patriot and who isn’t.
  • In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country; in a republic it is the common voice of the people. Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catch-phrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country — hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashamed of.
    Only when a republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it is in the wrong. There is no other time.
    This Republic's life is not in peril. The nation has sold its honor for a phrase. It has swung itself loose from its safe anchorage and is drifting, its helm is in pirate hands.

"The Danger of Lying in Bed"

  • The Erie railroad kills 23 to 46; the other 845 railroads kill an average of one-third of a man each; and the rest of that million, amounting in the aggregate to that appalling figure of 987,631 corpses, die naturally in their beds! You will excuse me from taking any more chances on those beds. The railroads are good enough for me.

"Which was the Dream?"

  • Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child's loss of a doll and a king's loss of a crown are events of the same size.

"Taming the Bicycle"

What is Man? and Other Essays

  • The bicycle had what is called the 'wabbles', and had them very badly. In order to keep my position, a good many things were required of me, and in every instance the thing required was against nature. Against nature, but not against the laws of nature.
  • Try as you may, you don't get down as you would from a horse, you get down as you would from a house afire. You make a spectacle of yourself every time.
  • The self-taught man seldom knows anything accurately, and he does not know a tenth as much as he could have known if he had worked under teachers;
  • Before taking final leave of me, my instructor inquired concerning my physical strength, and I was able to inform him that I hadn't any.
  • I have seen it stated that no expert is quick enough to run over a dog; that a dog is always able to skip out of his way. I think that that may be true; but I think that the reason he couldn't run over the dog was because he was trying to. I did not try to run over any dog. But I ran over every dog that came along.
  • Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.

Unsourced/ Possible Fakes

Twain is one of those major iconic figures to whom many statements become attributed; unsourced attributions to him should usually be treated with some skepticism, and often a great deal of it.

Writing and speaking

  • Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.
    • This quote, in both this and a slightly different form, is also attributed to Robert Benchley.
  • I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.
    • Not directly traceable to Twain. Appears on p.202, The dictionary of humorous quotations (1949), Evan Esar, Doubleday.
  • Only presidents, editors and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we".
    • Attributed to Twain as "only editors and people with tapeworms should say 'we' in writing" on p.247, Business Education World, Volume 24, 1944, Gregg Publ. Co., but predated by:
    • ...three orders of men, by right, speak of themselves as "we". These are editors, royal personages, and people with tapeworms.
    • "Mr Prentice", p.138, The Louisville Medical News, Volumes 15-16, 1883.

Education

  • Never let your schooling interfere with your education.
    • Variants: Don't let your son's/boy's schooling interfere too much with his education.
    • Not directly traceable to Twain; first attributed to him in early 1900s in latter form, as in Outing: sport, adventure, travel, fiction, Volume 50, 1907, ed. Caspar Whitney, Albert Britt.
  • I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is I can't find anybody who can tell me what they want.
    • First appears in post-2000 self-help and inspirational books such as Wake Up ... Live the Life You Love: Seizing Your Success, 2002, Steven E., Lee Beard, 58 Micro LLC, 2002
  • I was born intelligent, education ruined me.
    • No known citation to Twain. Also quoted without attribution or to "a student", as in Architecture + design, Volume 21, 2004, pub. S.K. Bhayana for Media Transasia (I) Pvt. Ltd.

Government and politics

  • If voting made any difference they wouldn't let us do it.
    • No known attribution to Twain. This has also been attributed to Emma Goldman. “If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.”
  • All you have to fear is your mother's cooking.
    • No known attribution to Twain.

Health

  • Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
    • First attributed to Twain in 1980s, as in The 637 best things anybody ever said, (1982), Robert Byrne, Atheneum.

History

  • The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.
    • Also quoted as "History does not repeat itself, It rhymes" and "History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes a lot."
    • According to this notes on sourcing, Twain scholars agree that it sounds like something he would say, but they have been unable to find the actual quote in his writing.
      • Twain did write: "It is not worth while to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man's character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible." (Mark Twain in Eruption: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events (1940), ed. Bernard DeVoto.)

Humor

  • To my embarrassment, I was born in bed with a lady.

Religion

  • It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
    • Not attributed to Twain until the 1970s, as in p.214, Christ the liberator. 1971, John R. W. Stott, Inter Varsity Press.

Truth

  • A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on.
    • Attributed to Twain as "a lie will fly around the whole world while the truth is getting its boots on", Standard player monthly, 1918, Volumes 3-4, Standard Pneumatic Action Co. An uncredited variant, "A lie will cover leagues while truth is putting on its boots", appears in The Judge, Volume 67, 1914, Judge Publishing Company. The oldest known attribution (1831) is to Fisher Ames: “falsehood proceeds from Maine to Georgia, while truth is pulling on his boots.”
    • This has also been attributed to Winston Churchill.
  • 'I once sent a telegram to 12 of my friends saying ALL IS DISCOVERED - FLEE AT ONCE. They all left town immediately.
    • (This has also been attributed to Arthur Conan Doyle, with the caveat that only one of his friends disappeared.)
  • A mine is a hole in the ground owned by a liar.
    • Alternatively, “with a liar on top”
    • Attributed to Twain in The Autobiography of John Hays Hammond (Farrar & Rinehart, 1935), p. 97, who knew Twain. Not recorded as actually having been said (Mark Twain quotations – Miner). Also attributed to contemporaries Bill Nye and Eli Perkins (A Hole in the Ground).

Weather

  • If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.
    • According to the Yale Book of Quotations, attributed to Twain in Try and Stop Me (1944), Bennett Cerf.

Statistics

  • Figures don't lie, but liars figure.
    • Attributed to Twain by Yates, Department of the Interior and related agencies appropriations for 1984: hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, Ninety-eighth Congress, first session, Parts 9-10, 1983, U.S. G.P.O., 1983.

Miscellaneous

  • Conductor, when you receive a fare,
    Punch in the presence of the passenjare:
    A blue trip slip for an eight-cent fare,
    A buff trip slip for a six-cent fare,
    A pink trip slip for a three-cent fare,
    Punch in the presence of the passenjare!

    Chorus: Punch, brothers, punch with care!
    Punch in the presence of the passenjare.
    • Jingle written in 1876 by Isaac Bromley and Noah Brooks of the New York Tribune. Twain quoted it in his 1876 A Literary Nightmare (a.k.a. Punch, Brothers, punch) describing the catchiness of the meme, and became mistakenly known as the author: see p.422, Mark Twain: the complete interviews (2006), Mark Twain, Gary Scharnhorst, University of Alabama Press.
  • Every generalization is false, including this one.
    • This has also been attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Winston Churchill, George Barnard Shaw and Douglas MacArthur.
  • I've never killed a man, but I've read many an obituary with a great deal of satisfaction.
  • I admire the serene assurance of those who have religious faith. It is wonderful to observe the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.
  • I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
    • Quoted in Dawkins, Richard (2006). "A Much Needed Gap?". The God Delusion. Bantam Press. pp. p. 354. ISBN 0-618-68000-4.  

Misattributed

  • Wagner's music is better than it sounds.
    • Actually by Bill Nye, possibly confused due to Twain quoting Nye in More tramps abroad, 1897.
  • Warm summer sun, shine kindly here;
    Warm southern wind, blow softly here;
    Green sod above, lie light, lie light —
    Good-night, dear heart, good-night, good-night.
  • The minority is always in the right. The majority is always in the wrong.
    • Attributed to Twain, but never sourced. Suspiciously close to "A minority may be right, and the majority is always in the wrong." — Henrik Ibsen "Enemy of the People," as well as a famous quote from Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard
  • There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
    • Often attributed to Twain, but he said it was attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and this itself is probably a misattribution: see Lies, damned lies, and statistics and Leonard H. Courtney. Twain did, however, popularize this saying in the United States. His attribution is in the following passage from Twain's Autobiography (1924), Vol. I, p. 246 (apparently written in Florence in 1904) [1]:
      • Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
  • The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
    • Often attributed to Twain, but of unknown origin.[2] [3] [4]
    • Twain did write, in Roughing It:
      • The climate of San Francisco is mild and singularly equable. The thermometer stands at about seventy degrees the year round. It hardly changes at all. You sleep under one or two light blankets Summer and Winter, and never use a mosquito bar. Nobody ever wears Summer clothing. You wear black broadcloth--if you have it--in August and January, just the same. It is no colder, and no warmer, in the one month than the other. You do not use overcoats and you do not use fans. It is as pleasant a climate as could well be contrived, take it all around, and is doubtless the most unvarying in the whole world. The wind blows there a good deal in the summer months, but then you can go over to Oakland, if you choose--three or four miles away--it does not blow there.
  • Golf is a good walk spoiled.
    • "Twain probably never uttered [these] words," according to R. Kent Rasmussen, editor of The Quotable Mark Twain (1998)
  • I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.
    • Often misattributed to Twain, this is actually by Blaise Pascal, "Lettres provinciales", letter 16, 1657:
      • Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.
      • Translation: I have only made this [letter] longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.
  • Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting over.
    • It seems likely that the attribution to Twain is apocryphal. It is not listed as authentic on Twainquotes, and is not listed at all in either R. Ken Ramussen's The Quotable Mark Twain (1998) or David W. Barber's Quotable Twain (2002).
  • A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.
    • According to R. Ken Rasmussen in The Quotable Mark Twain" (1998) this is most probably not Twain's.
  • Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.
    • Notes on sourcing
    • Twain did say:
      • "There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger's admiration — and regret. The weather is always doing something there ... In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. ...
        Yes, one of the brightest gems in the New England weather is the dazzling uncertainty of it." (Speech at the dinner of New England Society in New York City, December 22, 1876))
  • Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
    • This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but the attribution cannot be verified. The quote should not be regarded as authentic. — Twainquotes
  • Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India.
    • Max Müller, India: What Can India Teach Us? (1883), p. 15
  • Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.
    • Often attributed to Twain online, but unsourced. Alternate source: "The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." — Robert Heinlein "The Man Who Sold the Moon" p.188.
  • It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.
    • Cited as an example of "What Mark Twain Didn't Say" in Mark Twain by Geoffrey C. Ward, et. al.
  • For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all. Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" — bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez — tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli. Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.
    • Actual Source: A letter to The Economist (16 January 1971), written by one M.J. Shields (or M.J. Yilz, by the end of the letter). The letter is quoted in full in one of Willard Espy's Words at Play books
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.
    • Commonly attributed to Twain in computer contexts and post-2000 inspirational books — the first sentence has also been attributed to Agatha Christie and Sally Berger.

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From LoveToKnow 1911

MARK TWAIN, the nom de plume of [[Samuel Langhorne Clemens]] (1835-1910), American author, who was born on the 30th of November 1835, at Florida, Missouri. His father was a country merchant from Tennessee, who moved soon after his son's birth to Hannibal, Missouri, a little town on the Mississippi. When the boy was only twelve his father died, and thereafter he had to get his education as best he could. Of actual schooling he had little. He learned how to set type, and as a journeyman printer he wandered widely, going even as far east as New York. At seventeen he went back to the Mississippi, determined to become a pilot on a riversteamboat. In his Life on the Mississippi he has recorded graphically his experiences while "learning the river." But in 1861 the war broke out, and the pilot's occupation was gone. After a brief period of uncertainty the young man started West with his brother, who had been appointed lieutenantgovernor of Nevada. He went to the mines for a season, and there he began to write in the local newspapers, adopting the pen name of "Mark Twain," from a call used in taking soundings on the Mississippi steamboats. He drifted in time to San Francisco, and it was a newspaper of that city which in 1867 supplied the money for him to join a party going on a chartered steamboat to the Mediterranean ports. The letters which he wrote during this voyage were gathered in 1869 into a volume, The Innocents Abroad, and the book immediately won a wide and enduring popularity. This popularity was of service to him when he appeared on the platform with a lecture - or rather with an apparently informal talk, rich in admirably delivered anecdote. He edited a daily newspaper in Buffalo for a few months, and in 1870 he married Miss Olivia L. Langdon (d. 1904), removing a year later to Hartford, where he established his home. Roughing It was published in 1872, and in 1874 he collaborated with Charles Dudley Warner in The Gilded Age, from which he made a play, acted many hundred times with John T. Raymond as "Colonel Sellers." In 1875 he published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the sequel to which, Huckleberry Finn, did not appear until 1884. The result of a second visit to Europe was humorously recorded in A Tramp Abroad (1880), followed in 1882 by a more or less historical romance, The Prince and the Pauper; and a year later came Life on the Mississippi. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the next of his books, was published (in 1884) by a New York firm in which the author was chief partner. This firm prospered for a while, and issued in 1889 Mark Twain's own comic romance, A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court, and in 1892 a less successful novel, The American Claimant. But after a severe struggle the publishing house failed, leaving the author charged with its very heavy debts. After this disaster he issued a third Mississippi Valley novel, The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, in 1894, and in 1896 another historical romance, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, wherein the maid is treated with the utmost sympathy and reverence. He went on a tour round the world, partly to make money by lecturing and partly to get material for another book of travels, published in 1897, and called in America Following the Equator, and in England More Tramps Abroad. From time to time he had collected into volumes his scattered sketches; of these the first, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, appeared in 1867, and the latest, The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, in 1900. To be recorded also is a volume of essays and literary criticisms, How to Tell a Story (1897). A complete edition of his works was published in twenty-two volumes in1899-1900by the American Publishing Company of Hartford. And in this last year, having paid off all the debts of his old firm, he returned to America. By the time he died his books had brought him a considerable fortune. In later years he published a few minor volumes of fiction, and a series of severe and also amusing criticisms of Christian Science (pub lished as a book in 1907), and in 1906 he began an autobiography in the North American Review. He had a great reception in England in 1907, when he went over to receive from Oxford the degree of Doctor of Literature. He died at Redding, Connecticut, on the 21st of April 1910. Of his four daughters only one, who married the Russian pianist Gabrilowitch, survived him. Mark Twain was an outstanding figure for many years as a popular American personality in the world of letters. He is commonly considered as a humorist, and no doubt he is a humorist of a remarkable comic force and of a refreshing fertility. But the books in which his humour is broadly displayed, the travels and the sketches, are not really so significant of his power as the three novels of the Mississippi, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Pudd'nhead Wilson, wherein we have preserved a vanished civilization, peopled with typical figures, and presented with inexorable veracity. There is no lack of humour in them, and there is never a hint of affectation in the writing; indeed, the author, doing spontaneously the work nearest to his hand, was very likely unconscious that he was making a contribution to history. But such Huckleberry Finn is, beyond all question; it is a story of very varied interest, now comic, now almost tragic, frequently poetic, unfailingly truthful, although not always sustained at its highest level. And in these three works of fiction there are not only humour and pathos, character and truth, there is also the largeness of outlook on life such as we find only in the works of the masters. Beneath his fun-making we can discern a man who is fundamentally serious, and whose ethical standards are ever lofty. Like Cervantes at times, Mark Twain reveals a depth of melancholy beneath his playful humour, and like Moliere always, he has a deep scorn and a burning detestation of all sorts of sham and pretence, a scorching hatred of humbug and hypocrisy. Like Cervantes and like Moliere, he is always sincere and direct.

After Mark Twain's death, his intimate friend, W. D. Howells, published in 1910 a series of personal recollections in Harper's Magazine. (B. M.)


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Simple English

File:MarkTwain.
Mark Twain, May 1904

Samuel Langhorne Clemens[1] (November 30, 1835April 21, 1910), more widely known as Mark Twain, was a well known American writer born in Florida, Missouri. He worked mainly for newspapers and as a riverboat pilot before he became a writer.

Clemens was best known for his works in fiction (made-up writing), and especially for his use of humour. His first published story, in 1865, was The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

Huckleberry Finn has become very respected, considered by many to be Clemens' best work. This story of a white boy who helps a black man escape slavery in the southern United States is known for its humanity.

Clemens's style was usually informal and humorous. This made him different from many important 19th century writers whose books he disliked. For example, he greatly disliked Jane Austen's works, such as Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, and famously remarked, "She makes me detest (hate) all her people, without reserve."[2][3]

Contents

Bibliography

References

  1. "Online NewsHour Special Report -- Mark Twain". pbs.org. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/media/twain/timeline3.html. Retrieved 3 September 2010. 
  2. "Mark Twain quotations - Jane Austen". twainquotes.com. http://www.twainquotes.com/Austen_Jane.html. Retrieved 3 September 2010. 
  3. Twain, Mark (April 21, 2009) (in English). Who is Mark Twain?. Harper. ISBN 978-0061735004. 

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