Samuel Longhorne Clemens (1835-1910), known by the pen name Mark Twain, has been called “the father of American literature. ” In his day he was America’s most famous literary icon. A humorist, satirist, lecturer and novelist, Twain combined narrative wit and a strong sense of irony to create distinctive masterpieces based on American culture and language. His works drew upon his extensive travels and show a remarkable depth of human character and perception of individual experience. Twain’s writing provides a unique reflection of the American way of life in the latter part of the nineteenth century.
Find below a look at five great works by Mark Twain.
And go to our profile of Paperblanks’ Mark Twain journal to learn about our unique tribute to this great artist.
1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Ernest Hemingway put it best: “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn‘ … it’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.” The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is not only Twain’s best-known book but one of the greatest literary works’ ever put to paper.
2. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Not as deep or as well-regarded as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – which itself was a sequel to Tom Sawyer – this book is still a classic, and is especially notable for being a definitive novel about American childhood. Relevance aside, however? It’s also a very charming and funny satire of small-town life.
3. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
Twain intended A Connecticut Yankee to satirize the way the literature of his day romanticized and idealized the Middle Ages. Instead of being brave and chivalrous the Medieval characters that the novel’s time-traveling protagonist encounters are humorously portrayed as gullible and ignorant. What Twain ended up creating was a classic comic novel that has been adapted into a great many movies, stage-plays and TV shows.
4. The Innocents Abroad
Twain was also a notable travel writer and his greatest travel writing can be found in The Innocents Abroad, a novel about his time aboard a retired Civil War ship that traveled through Europe and the Holy Land. One of the more famous quotes from the book encapsulates Twain’s belief about the importance of traveling:
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
5. Autobiography of Mark Twain
Written in the last few years of his life, Autobiography of Mark Twain is notable for being intentionally withheld from publication until the 100th anniversary of Twain’s death – which was only 2 years ago this month! The third and final volume has yet to be released but the first two volumes are wonderful tomes filled with anecdotes and ruminations about Twain’s remarkable life.