Clemens ("mark Twain")
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Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The most distinguished exponent of American humor is Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known universally as Mark Twain. He was born at Florida, in Missouri, in 1835, and became a pilot on a Mississippi steamboat. Here he got the name "Mark Twain" from the cry used to signify that the water was two fathoms deep. In 1862 Clemens went to Nevada, engaged in mining, and wrote for the newspapers. At the suggestion of a friend "The Jumping Frog and Other Sketches," were published in New York in 1867 and set the public in a roar of laughter. Clemens then went on a tourists' excursion to the Mediterranean and the Holy Land and gave the voyage wide fame in his "Innocents Abroad." In his next work, "Roughing It," he described in the same grotesque style his mining experiences. He joined with C. Dudley Warner in "The Gilded Age," to satirize the modern race for wealth. Clemens fixed his residence at Hartford, Connecticut, and continued his sketches and stories of Western life in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn," but hoping for more ample pecuniary returns from book-publishing, he joined a firm which after a few years' success became bankrupt. Clemens had in the meantime been writing some romances, dealing with history in a novel way. "The Prince and the Pauper" was a reconstruction of the story of Edward VI of England. "A Yankee at King Arthur's Court," was a mingling of things old and new in fantastic style. Then the story of Joan of Arc was retold seriously as if written by a personal attendant. Though this was published anonymously, the authorship was soon disclosed. Meantime Clemens, in his effort to get rid of debt, had gone to lecture in Australia and India, and afterward to Austria, whence he sent humorous sketches of his observations. He is a bold caricaturist of human peculiarities, national and individual.