Covers American regional literature in New England, the South, Midwest, Great Plains, and West. Includes Mark Twain. Prof. Donna Campbell's web site.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, also known as Mark Twain, was a major American writer from Missouri. His stories and novels are famous for their humor, vivid details, and memorable characters. His best-known works are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, both classics in American literature.
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Mark Twains writing consisted of happy, boyhood tales, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and funny, ironic stories such as The Celebrated Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County.
Perhaps to revive his fortunes, Twain commenced work on another novel, one published in 1889 as Here Twain produced a harsh depiction of life in sixth- century England, which, with its repressive, anti-democratic society, he likened to that of post-Civil War America. The novel's protagonist is Hank Morgan, a factory foreman who suffers a blow to the head and regains consciousness only to find himself in medieval England, which is ruled by legendary King Arthur. Ever ingenious, Hank counters court magician Merlin's superstitious ways by introducing electrical devices and gunpowder among the unsuspecting courtiers. As Hank gains in influence, though, he becomes increasing misanthropic, even slaying members of the Round Table. After his stock-market maneuvers undo the nation's economy, he is attacked by Arthur's surviving legions. With firearms, explosives, and electrical devices, Hank and a handful of supporters manage to slay tens of thousands of Arthur's knights. But Merlin, disguised as a woman, eventually reaches Hank and places a spell on him, causing him to sleep until the nineteenth century.
While writing in Virginia City, Twain ran afoul of a rival journalist, who insisted on a duel. To avoid imprisonment for violation of the town's anti-dueling statute, Twain promptly fled to San Francisco, where he soon found work with various newspapers. In San Francisco he became known for his often moralistic, though humorous, diatribes against public figures and institutions. On one occasion, he offended the city's police department, which responded with a lawsuit charging libel. Twain then fled to the Sierras, where he again haphazardly panned for gold. After a few months, during which the San Francisco police dropped their lawsuit, Clemens returned to the city and learned of a request from prominent humorist Artemus Ward for a piece to be included in a forthcoming humor anthology. Twain responded with the story that became known as "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." The tale arrived too late for inclusion in Ward's volume but was pirated by the where it won great acclaim. It was eventually copied in newspapers throughout America and published, with other tales, as Twain's first book,
After the Civil War effectively closed business travel along the Mississippi (which was being used as an invasion route by Union troops), Twain was unable to continue working as a riverboat captain. He briefly served in the Confederate Army, then rejoined Orion, who had recently won a position in the Nevada territory government as reward for his work on President Abraham Lincoln's re-election campaign. Twain traveled with his brother to Nevada, then commenced a year's work panning for gold and silver. These experiences would later provide the basis for his volume For a year Twain panned only occasionally, content instead to mock the entire venture by producing comedic missives for the nearby Virginia City In 1862 he joined the publication and assumed the Mark Twain pseudonym almost exclusively in alternating his humorous reports with conventional pieces.
In Pudd’nhead Wilson, a book written by Mark Twain, Twain quotes that, “It is easier to stay out than get out.” This quote basically means that it is easier to stay out of things than trying to get out of the mess unaffected.
Twain obtained his own pilot's license in 1859 and spent more time traveling up and down the Mississippi River. His exploits in this period, which Twain recalled with particular warmth and enthusiasm, eventually served as material for some of his most inspired writing. But even while traveling along the river he continued supplying occasional missives to various publications, including one that is believed to be the first that he signed as Mark Twain. His initial publication as Twain is a lampoon of an account published by riverboat captain Isaiah Sellers under the pseudonym Mark Twain (the name is, itself, a nautical term). Legend has it that Sellers was so embarrassed by Twain's parody and Twain, consequently, was so regretful that he assumed the pseudonym as a means of atonement.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that 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.”
– Mark Twain
This past summer, a group of College of Education and Human Development students had the chance to explore, dream, and discover just as Twain suggested when they took part in a faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Drs. Peter Sayer and Lilliana Saldaña, assistant professors in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, led 13 undergraduate and graduate students on the five-week trip that was funded through a Fullbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Program.
The writer known as, Mark Twain, was actually born with the name Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, to John Marshall Clemens and Jane Lampton Clemens on November 30, 1835.