Mark Twain Questions 1. What does "Mark Twain" mean? 2. How old was Twain when he began writing stories? 3. What is his first story? 4. What did he do after he left school? 5. How do you know that he loved Mississippi River very much? 6. What was he famous for? 7. Which universities honored him for his writing? 8. How was his last years of life? 9. What do you know about the three stages of his thought and works?
Answer to the Questions 1. Mark Twain means 12 feet deep or 3.66 meters deep. 2. Twain began writing stories when he was about 32 years old. 3. His first story is The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. 4. He was a printer, a riverboat pilot, a soldier, a gold miner, a businessman and a newspaper reporter. 5. Three of his most famous books describe people on this great river. They are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Life on the Mississippi. His penname is about the river.
6. He was famous for its description of common people and the way they talked, but especially for his humor. 7. Yale and Oxford honored him for his writing. 8. His last years of life was filled with sad events, loneliness and the loss of much money. 9. The first one is active and lively; the second is full of acid and satirical sense; the third one is pessimistic and cynic.
The Name of Mark Twain Twain's real name was Samuel Clemens."Mark Twain",which means"watermark two",was a call used by sailors on the Mississippi to warn shipmates that they were coming into shallow water.
Mark Twain (1835 -1910) Mark Twain was a great American writer, and he was also a famous speaker. Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) was born in Florida and he was not a healthy baby. In fact, he was not expected to live through the first winter. But with his mother's tender care, he managed to survive. As a boy, he caused much trouble for his parents. He used to play jokes on all of his friends and neighbors. He didn't like to go to school, and he constantly ran away from home.
Early life experience Born in a little town in Mississippi At 11, he lost his father At 13, he stopped schooling Tramp printer Steamboat pilot on the Mississippi Confederate guerrilla Prospector Reporter on the far western frontier Traveler abroad
His Marriage At 34 years old he married Olivia Langdon Clemens, daughter of a New York coal magnate, a member of the country’s wealthy elite. She would be partner, editor, and fellow traveler in success and failure for the next thirty-five years.
In His Middle Ages By 1900 Twain had become America’s foremost celebrity. He was invited to attend ship launchings, anniversary gatherings, political conventions, and countless dinners. Reporters met him at every port of call, anxious to print a new quip from the famous humorist. To enhance his image, he took to wearing white suits and loved to stroll down the street and see people staring at him.
His Later Life There are many tragic events in his later life: the failure of his investments, his fatiguing travels and lectures in order to pay off his debts, and added to this, the death of his wife and two daughters which left him absolutely inconsolable. Some critics link these tragic events with the change of style in his later works, from an optimist and humorist to an almost despairing determinist.
His Death Mark Twain died of illness on April 21, 1910. When he passed away, newspapers around the country declared, “The whole world is mourning.” By then, Sam Clemens had long since ceased to be a private citizen. He had become Mark Twain, a proud possession of the American nation.
Mark Twain and the Mississippi Mark Twain loved the great river so much that he always went in the direction of the nearby Mississippi. Many of his great works are set in the background of the Mississippi River, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Life on the Mississippi.
Other Works Running for Governor The £1,000,000 Bank-Note The Innocent Abroad The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County ( his first story) The Gilded Age Following the Equator Roughing It The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson
Three Stages of Mark Twain’s Thought and Works active and lively; full of acid and satirical sense; pessimistic and cynic.
Writing Characteristics of Mark Twain Literature is an art of language. Mark Twain’s language is artistic and like a sharp weapon without doubt. Mark Twain is famous for his humor and satire. Mark Twain’s humor is based on the humor of the Western in America.
He used a lot of colloquial idioms and colloquial syntax. He often described persons who was innocent, simple, naive, and ignorant as his heroes or heroines. He used the artistic style of hyperbole on the basis of the western traditional humor and made his writing full of allegories that lay behind the humor.
His Famous Words “Wisdom teaches us that none but birds should go out early, and that not even birds should do it unless they are out of worms.”
“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” “Humor is mankind's greatest blessing.”
“ Classic--a book which people praise and don't read.” “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.”
“ Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” Picture from Dave Thomson collection: www.twainquotes.com
“The holy passion of Friendship is so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money." Picture from Dave Thomson collection: www.twainqes.com
“ The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's.” Picture from Dave Thomson collection: www.twainquotes.com
"Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person."
A Mirror of America 1. “Mirror” here means a person who gives a true representation or description of the country. 2. Generally speaking, all literary giants in human history are also great historians, thinkers and philosophers. Their works often reveal more truth than many political essays. 3. Mark Twain was one of these giants, and his life and works are a mirror of America of his time.
A Brief Assessment Mark Twain is a part of America. His personal success and failure were those of America. He moved, along with America, from innocence to experience. Mark Twain is a part of America. His personal success and failure were those of America. He moved, along with America, from innocence to experience. He was famous for his description of common people and the way they talked, but especially for his humor. Yale and Oxford honored him for his writing.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Hemingway once wrote: "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn... it's the best book we've had... There was nothing before. There has been nothing so good since." Satire This novel shows Twain's satire on southern culture before the Civil War, around 1850, when the Mississippi Valley was still being settled. Twain condemned racial discrimination.
Style Vernacular language and dialect. Local Color Twain depicted social life through descriptions of local places and people he knew best. Significance The carefully controlled point of view, with its implicit ironies expressed through the voice of a semi-literate boy; the masterful use of dialects; the felicitous balancing romanticism and realism, humor and pathos, innocence and evil. This novel creates the most memorable characters in all of American fiction.
Plot (Synopsis) Huck Finn, a boy of about 12 years, is the son of the town drunk. Widow Douglas adopts him so that she can civilize him and raise him to be a gentleman. Huck dislikes the regular, staid ways of the widow. Although she is kind and attentive, he is uncomfortable and feels stifled at her house. He does not like going to school, attending church, or wearing neat clothes. Neither does he like being tutored at home by Miss Watson. When he is no longer able to put up with the Widow’s ways, he runs away; but Huck is found by Tom Sawyer, who convinces him to come back.
Huck and Tom have earlier found a hidden treasure, which they are allowed to keep for themselves. Huck’s father comes to know of his son’s prosperity and returns to St. Petersburg. He wants to take away Huck’s money, for he feels that it is rightfully his. He tries to catch Huck a number of times, but the clever boy always eludes him. One day, the father waits for him, catches him, and takes him away after a short brawl. He locks Huck in a cabin in the woods three miles down the river and regularly beats him.
A couple of months pass. When the beatings get unbearable, Huck decides to run away from the cabin. He plans escape and waits for an opportunity. He saws off a piece of the back wall, escapes through the hole, and leaves traces of pig blood to deceive his father into thinking that he is dead. He takes the canoe and goes to Jackson’s Island, where he spends three idyllic days. He meets Jim, the Widow’s slave, on one of his explorations of the island. Jim has run away from the widow when he overhears her intention of selling him down the river for eight hundred dollars.
Huck wants to know the reaction of the people to his disappearance. He dresses up like a girl and goes to the mainland. He learns from Judith Loftus, a newcomer in the village, that the people are convinced that Jim has killed Huck, since he had escaped the same day that Huck disappeared. Upset by the revelation, Huck rushes back to the island and tells Jim. The two of them board a raft and head down the river to New Orleans.
On one of their stops at a small town, Huck is caught in a feud between the Grangerfords and the Shephardsons; the feud has apparently gone on for over thirty years. He successfully escapes from them, only to find that two con men have come on their raft. The Duke and the Dauphin fool people out of money at every stop they make; they always manage to get away just in the nick of time. When Huck thinks that he has finally gotten rid of the pair, he discovers that Jim has been sold by the Duke and Dauphin to Silas Phelps for forty dollars.
Huck, in an attempt to rescue Jim, makes his way to the Phelps farm. To his joy, he discovers that Mrs. Phelps is Tom’s aunt, and she is expecting Tom to come visiting anytime. She mistakes Huck to be Tom and welcomes him. Meanwhile, Tom also comes to the Phelps farm, but Huck meets him and narrates all that has happened. He tells him that Jim is being held a prisoner by Mr. Phelps, and he intends to rescue him.
Tom immediately jumps at the opportunity of having some excitement. All that they have to do is steal the keys and free Jim, but Tom sets up an elaborate plan for adventure. In the process of freeing Jim, Tom gets injured and falls sick. Later on, Huck realizes that Jim was a free man all the while, for Widow Douglas had set him free in her will. He also comes to know that Aunt Sally is thinking of adopting him so that she can civilize him further. He runs away to the west so he can be “free”.
Major Characters Huck: Huckleberry Finn is the main character and narrator of the story. Without a mother and with an often absent (and drunk) father, he is basically an orphan who lives with Miss Watson and the Widow Douglas. Leaving the conservative clutches of the home, Huck chooses to flee society and enter the natural world, where he feels most at home. When he and Jim cross paths in the wilderness, the two decide to travel together, and both use a raft to escape the bondage of the land.
Jim: Jim is the escaped slave of Ms. Watson who encounters Huck in the wilderness and agrees to travel with him down the Mississippi. Though Jim is often ignorant and child-like, the profound feelings he expresses for his family and his overall persona prove to Huck (and the reader) that he is just as entitled to liberty as any white person. Jim, however, is trained by society, and though he believes he deserves freedom, also considers himself inferior to whites.
Twain as a Realist Twain is one of the greatest realists – possibly The greatest – of all time. One of the reasons he ’ s so great is that he dares to examine the “ whys ” – why does society have problems? Why do characters experience conflicting emotions? Why do we act the way we do?
Satire In Huck “ 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. ” – twain ’ s notice on the first page Think of all of the things Twain takes on and portrays as silly or exaggerated – realism, honor, society itself! Do you really believe there aren ’ t any messages, meanings, or storylines in the book?
Racism This hovers over the text at all times, most obviously when Jim is featured. How does the text deal with racism? is huck Racist? Check out the hypocrisy of the slaveholders, many of whom are supposed to be upstanding citizens Twain published this after slavery was abolished, but set the action before the war
American Realism(1870-1890) 1. Reasons: civil war, social development. People sought to describe the wide range of American experience and to present the subtleties of human personality, to portray characters who were less simply all good or all bad. 2. Realism originated in France. A literary doctrine that called for “reality and truth” in the depiction of ordinary life. 3. American realism, different from European realism, is more varied and individualistic.
American Realism(1870-1890 4. Development of American realism: first appear in the literature of local color, arbiter: William Dean Howells. He defined realism as “nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material”. 5. Important writers: Henry James, Mark Twain.
American Naturalism: pessimistic realism 1. Naturalism came from France. 2. Reasons: civil war, social upheavals, Darwinism, hypothesized that over the millennia, man had evolved from lower forms of life. Human were special, not because God had created them in His image, as the Bible taught, but because they had successfully adapted to changing environmental conditions and had passed on their survivalmaking characteristic genetically.
Men were dominated by the irresistible forces of evolution. Men were conceived as more or less complex combination of inherited attributes and habits conditioned by social and economic forces, by heredity and environment.
3. Features of naturalist writing: A. naturalist writers turned literary creation into a mechanical record of society, in a way of attempting to achieve extreme objectivity and frankness. They never made comments on the characters and their behaviors. B. The characters were often figures of low social and economic classes, with animal desire, some physically strong but weak- willed figures. There were also some healthy and lofty persons, but their ending were miserable.
C. the viewpoint from which the writers understood problems was amoral, or non-moral. They stressed men had no free will, their lives were controlled by heredity and environment. D. their material was infinite.