When one thinks of classic American literature, Mark Twain is one of the first names to come to mind. Samuel Longhorne Clemens, the man behind the pseudonym, was born on November 30, 1835 in Hannibal, Missouri. After applying for and receiving an apprenticeship with a local printing shop, Twain found a love for wit and sarcasm. The money he received from his apprenticeship was able to pay for family expenses, and he was able to save money to start writing and publishing humorous articles and witty newspaper sketches, which introduced him to the world of an author. With this experience and inspiration, he went on to avidly pursue a writing career. While most know him as the author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Twain’s portfolio expands into short stories as well.
Twain’s short stories are wrought with wit and sarcasm. He really shows his expertise in being able to implement so much humor in a story only seven pages long. When an author is working within such a short page range, every word counts, and Twain fully understands this. Upon publication, his works and collections garnered international attention, and were even translated into different languages during his lifetime. In his stories like “Luck” and “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” Twain uses alliteration, repetition, and colloquial language to engage and entertain his readers. Plus, his stories all have value for both entertainment and academic purposes. There is always something new to be found his stories every time they are reread.
While Twain was a well-versed humorist, he was also able to create more serious pieces like “The War Prayer,” a scathing critique of war and its religious elements. Written closer to the end of his life, it remained unpublished until after Twain passed away due to his family’s fear that it would appear sacrilegious. Twain is quoted saying, “I have told the truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead.” And “The War Prayer” was finally published in 1923, thirteen years after his death.
Mark Twain is a wonderfully hilarious author with a lot of imagination and relatable content. He is a master wordsmith whose works will be read for generations to come. He will forever be remembered as one of the most iconic American authors and constantly reminds us to never take ourselves too seriously, but also to think before we speak.
“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” – Mark Twain