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Mark Twain

(1835 - 1910)

Biography of Mark Twain :

American writer, born in Missouri, novelist, humorist, narrator; and essayist, whose true name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Fatherless at the age of twelve, Mark Twain carries on various activities: typographer's apprentice, articles writer in his brother's newspaper, steamboat pilot on Mississippi. Not wanting to fight with Southerners to maintain slavery, he runs towards the Nevada Mountains away and works as gold prospector. From 1864, he becomes journalist reporter in San Francisco and travels in Europe as a press correspondent. After his marriage with Olivia Langdon in 1870, he settles in Hartford, Connecticut.

In his first novels, Mark Twain evokes his trips in Europe and Polynesia (The Innocents Abroad, 1869) and makes fun for the prejudices and the behavior of his compatriots. He also conjures up his period as gold prospector (Roughing It, 1872). It is thanks to his two novels "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1876) and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1885) that he gains celebrity as a humorist. However, Mark Twain writes, in the second part of his works, more serious texts that criticize, with pessimism, the excesses of civilization and the immorality set up in morals. The end of his life is darkened by financial troubles, by the death of a daughter of him and by the death of his wife.

Describing with realism and severity the American society, Mark Twain is one of the first authors using the authentic language that is spoken in the States of the South and of the West. Often compared to Stevenson and to Dickens, Twain excels particularly in a regionalist painting of America, i.e. carried out by a "native", perfectly impregnated of the life in the places he describes. However, a great part of his works waive this principle when he becomes an "observer of people" describing the countries he has visited.

Mark Twain is a virulent and disrespectful lampooner, in particular when he attacks God, religion and the foundations of Christianity. In "Reflections on Religion", he shows the incoherence of Bible and denounces the crimes committed in the name of God and of Christ.
Bibliography : The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (1865), The Innocents Abroad (1869) , Roughing It (1872), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894), Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1895), Following the Equator (1897), The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg (1899), What is man ? (1906), Reflections on Religion (1906), The mysterious Stranger (1916).

Quotes of Mark Twain

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