Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Mark Twain

Mark Twain with his characteristic mop of
shaggy hair and his famous cigar. He is said 
to have smoked 22 to 40 cigars a day and once said, 
"if smoking is not allowed in heaven, I shall not go."
1835 - 1910

When I was young we had a book of comprehension that had short passages from various books. It was such a great way to whet a young reader’s curiosity – give her a tiny glimpse of a wonderful world then wait for her to go looking for the book.


That’s how I sought out this author ­- Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain author of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of  Huckleberry Finn. I remember well, the passage where Tom Sawyer trades an apple to ‘allow’ his friends to paint the fence instead of him. Brilliant! His other best selling work Huckleburry Finn was an offshoot from Tom Sawyer and tackled the issue of slavery. Twain had seen slavery up close in his homestate Missouri. The books remain popular among readers even today.

It is not possible to do justice to him or to his books in a few hundred words here. I do hope, however, that like my language book I manage to whet your appetite through this post, to seek him out on your own.

His books are special

With his wife and three daughters. He fell in love with his
wife when he saw her picture with his future brother-in-law.
… because he was one of the wittiest authors ever. His wrote funny books that would appeal to young kids even while there would be a sensitive, intelligent undercurrent running through them. His books contain a satirical commentary on the society and the human nature which cannot but appeal to adults as well.

A man of many trades and many names

Mark Twain's father passed away when he was 11 and he started working when he was just 12 at a printing press. He took up various jobs including that of a steamboat captain (where he got his name Mark Twain) and a prospector before he took to writing. How he got his pen name is one of my favourite stories. While he was a river pilot the cry of 'Mark Twain' implied it was safe to sail because the water's depth as measured by a 'mark' on a line was two 'twain' fathoms (12 feet). He used other pseudonyms too inluding Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, W Epaminodas Adrastus Blab, Sergeant Fathom and Rambler.

Did you know?

- That Mark Twain was a great speaker? He was often invited to talk shows which he would present in his quintessential witty style. These were solo ‘acts’ almost like the current day stand-up comic shows.

- And that he had a keen interest in Science and Technology? He even patented three inventions – a replacement to suspenders for trousers, a history trivia game and a self-pasting scrap book. How’s that for creativity?

- Also, he was a master of quotable quotes
Next time you need a quirky quote search for Mark Twain. Sample these..

  • Go to heaven for the climate, hell for the company.
  • Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: This is the ideal life.
  • My mother had a great deal of trouble with me but I think she enjoyed it.
  • Familiarity breeds contempt and children.

The Comet Connection

He was born in 1835 two weeks after the Halley’s Comet made its closest approach to the Earth. He believed he would go away with the Comet as well. And he did just that – he passed away in 1910 one day after the comet again made a close approach to the earth.
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Ladies keep your handkerchief's at the ready for tomorrow as I host a Master of Mush. A contemporary gentleman who has penned some of the most poignant romances you've ever read.
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This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.


Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.




52 comments:

  1. While I was aware of the books, did not know about his other capabilities.... Thanks for sharing this. Am for sure will look for him when I need a quote in future :-).

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  2. Ah! Mark Twain was simply brilliant wasn't he?!
    His Huckleberry Finn is my favorite! :)

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  3. These are such wonderful facts about Mark Twain. I loved his books as a child. The fact about Haley's comet is intriguing.

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  4. Mark Twain is my favourite writer. .I have read many books authored by him.

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  5. Mark Twain is simply divine. One of the greatest writers that ever lived! Fabulous post, Tulika! :) I once did a sketch of Mark Twain while idling in office, years ago. I think I still have it!

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  6. Have read his books a long time ago. Your series this month is compelling me to re-read all these classics and masterpieces once again! :)

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    1. That's what I've promised myself too.

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  7. I love Mark Twain...I would love the chapters on him in School....Thanks for taking me back there for a moment :)

    M for Motherly-Random Thoughts Naba

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  8. Love Mark Twain but when it comes to quotes I still prefer Oscar Wilde :)

    PhenoMenon
    http://throodalookingglass.com/2014/04/moon3/

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    1. I find Oscar Wilde a bit of a sexist...

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  9. Oops ! I got stumped yesterday when I thought of the M and your Initials, but somehow Tom Sawyer didnt make it to my memory :) He was a favourite , when I was a child and learning to read story books ! Thanks for this piece, Tulika. As Shilpa said, we have to re-read the classics again !!

    And yes, waiting for the spark ! :D

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  10. Well done Sreeja... You're good at this!

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  11. I have enjoyed MT's writings, but didn't know much about him, especially about his creative inventions. Enjoyed reading some great details about him and his varied interests. Thanks Tulika :)

    Beauty Interprets, Expresses, Manifests the Eternal

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  12. Again a fabulous and a fav author Tulika! Loving your choices and the lovely memories being refreshed each day with some brilliant books! :)

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    1. Thank you Aditi. I gladly return the compliment - yours is one of the best themes at A to Z.. And one I'm enjoying the most.

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  13. We had Mark Twain's stories as part of our school curriculum :) Thank you for the information :)

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    1. We had him too... I remember mugging up his 'real name'.

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  14. Cool.. loved reading Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn!!
    Enjoyed reading the tidbits about him ..very interesting !!

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    1. Thanks Priya. It's always good to hear good things from old friends.

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  15. I loved reading about him as much as I've enjoyed his books. Thanks, Tulika for sharing MT's other talents with us.

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  16. Tom Sawyer was my std 8 literature book. Interesting about Halley's comet and Mark Twain.

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    1. I thought so too, Suzy. There's so much about our favourite authors that we do not know.

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  17. WOW interesting facts about the comets. He is a legendary writer and you did him justice here with your brilliant article. ♥

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  18. I enjoyed reading Tom Sawyer while in school.
    One of Mark Twain's oft-quoted quotes: "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do."

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    1. So very true. He's good with the quotes.

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  19. One of my favourite authors and his quotes are amazing. I remember using them in my presentations :) Wonderful write-up, Tulika.

    ~Shailaja's latest A~Z post

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  20. I love that story about how he got his pen name :) Lovely write up Tulika :)

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  21. Awesome write up Tulika. While I was aware of his work and loved Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn,you have shared a lot of info not commonly known.

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  22. Funny, I happened to mention Mark Twain in my post from today, too! I recently read Pudd'nhead Wilson, one of Twain's lesser known works. It's not quite as good as the ones you mentioned, but it still had some solid humor.

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    1. I haven't read that one. The humour sounds tempting.

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  23. Tom Sawyer a must read I feel for every reader... I love Mark Twain for his wit.. Lovely post ..It was good to know about those interesting facts you mentioned about Twain

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  24. I am meeting you right away :O My favoriteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee author!!! Yeah.. very favorite. I grew up reading Enid Blyton, R.K.Narayan, Twain, and Kipling :)

    ~S(t)ri
    Participant|AtoZ Challenge 2014
    Smile, it makes (y)our day!

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    1. :-D. Sure we must... A blogger meet would be such fun.

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  25. To see two photographs of Samuel Clemens, age 26, made in Nevada in 1861, visit www.kaplancollection.com.

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  26. I had no idea Mark Twain was a great speaker. But it makes sense -- he is still quoted so often so I imagine it might have come from that platform. Loved his books as a child

    Carol @ Battered Hope

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  27. I remember having to read the passage about Tom getting his friends to paint the fence at school too :). Mark Twain was a delightful yet sensitive author. Thanks for sharing this little glimpse into his life!

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  28. "Go to heaven for the climate, hell for the company." Simply loved this. I loved Tom and Huckleberry fin.
    How I wish he was alive today so that I could listen to a TED talk by him. :(

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