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10 avril 2012 2 10 /04 /avril /2012 03:17

Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910),[1] better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is most noted for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885),[2] the latter often called "the Great American Novel." Sony VGP-BPS13A/S battery

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion's newspaper.  Sony VGP-BPS13A/S battery

After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, before heading west to join Orion. He was a failure at gold mining, so he next turned to journalism. While a reporter, he wrote a humorous story,  Sony VGP-BPS8B battery

 "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", which became very popular and brought nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling. HP G62-153CA Battery

He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker. His wit and satire earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. HP G62-154CA Battery

 

He lacked financial acumen, and, though he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures, in particular the Paige Compositor, and was forced to declare bankruptcy. With the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers he eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain worked hard to ensure that all of his creditors were paid in full, even though his bankruptcy had relieved him of the legal responsibility. HP G62-165SL Battery

 

Twain was born during a visit by Halley's Comet, and he predicted that he would "go out with it" as well. He died the day following the comet's subsequent return. He was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age,"[3] and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature."[4]HP G62-166SB Battery

 

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri on November 30, 1835. He was the son of Jane (née Lampton; 1803–1890), a native of Kentucky, and John Marshall Clemens (1798–1847), a Virginian by birth. His parents met when his father moved to Missouri and were married several years later, in 1823.[5][6] He was the sixth of seven children but only three of his siblings survived childhood: HP G62-200XX Battery

his brother Orion (1825–1897), Henry, who died in a riverboat explosion (1838–1858), and Pamela (1827–1904). His sister Margaret (1833–1839) died when he was three, and his brother Benjamin (1832–1842) died three years later. Another brother, Pleasant (1828–1829), died at six months.[7] Twain was born two weeks after the closest approach to Earth of Halley's Comet. HP G62-201XX Battery

 

When he was four, Twain's family moved to Hannibal, Missouri,[8] a port town on theMississippi River that inspired the fictional town of St. Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.[9] Missouri was a slave state and young Twain became familiar with the institution of slavery, a theme he would later explore in his writing. HP G62-219WM Battery

Twain's father was an attorney and judge.[10] The Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad was organized in his office in 1846. The railroad connected the second and third largest cities in the state and was the westernmost United States railroad until the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. It delivered mail to and from the Pony Express.[11]HP G62-251XX Battery

 

In 1847, when Twain was 11, his father died of pneumonia.[12] The next year, he became a printer's apprentice. In 1851, he began working as a typesetter and contributor of articles and humorous sketches for the Hannibal Journal, a newspaper owned by his brother Orion. When he was 18, he left Hannibal and worked as a printer in New York City,Philadelphia, HP G62-400 Battery

St. Louis, and Cincinnati. He joined the newly formed International Typographical Union, the printers union and educated himself in public libraries in the evenings, finding wider information than at a conventional school.[13]HP G62-450SA Battery

 Clemens came from St. Louis on the packet Keokuk in 1854,[14] and lived in Muscatine during part of the summer of 1855. The Muscatine newspaper published eight stories which amounted to almost 6,000 words.[15]HP G62-451SA Battery

 

On a voyage to New Orleans down the Mississippi, steamboat pilot Horace E. Bixby inspired Twain to become a pilot himself. As Twain observed in Life on the Mississippi, the pilot surpassed a steamboat's captain in prestige and authority; it was a rewarding occupation with wages set at $250 per month.[16]HP G62-452SA Battery

 A steamboat pilot needed to know the ever-changing river to be able to stop at the hundreds of ports and wood-lots. Twain studied 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of the Mississippi for more than two years before he received his steamboat pilot license in 1859. HP G62-454TU Battery

This occupation gave him his pen name, Mark Twain, from "mark twain," the cry for a measured river depth of two fathoms. While training, Samuel convinced his younger brother Henry to work with him. Henry was killed on June 21, 1858, when the steamboat he was working on, the Pennsylvania, exploded. Twain had foreseen this death in a dream a month earlier,[17] HP G62-456TU Battery

which inspired his interest inparapsychology; he was an early member of the Society for Psychical Research.[18]Twain was guilt-stricken and held himself responsible for the rest of his life. He continued to work on the river and was a river pilot until the American Civil War broke out in 1861 and traffic along the Mississippi was curtailed. HP G62-460TX Battery

 

During the Civil War, Missouri was considered by many to be part of the South and was represented in both the Confederate and Federal governments. Twain wrote a sketch, "The Private History of a Campaign That Failed," which claimed he and his friends had been Confederate volunteers for two weeks before disbanding their company.[19]HP G62-467TX Battery

Travels

Twain joined Orion, who in 1861 became secretary to James W. Nye, the governor ofNevada Territory, and headed west. Twain and his brother traveled more than two weeks on a stagecoach across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, visiting the Mormon community in Salt Lake City. HP G62-468TX Battery

The experiences inspired Roughing It and provided material for The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Twain's journey ended in the silver-mining town of Virginia City, Nevada, where he became a miner.[19]HP G62-550EE Battery

 Twain failed as a miner and worked at a Virginia City newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise.[20] Here he first used his pen name. On February 3, 1863, he signed a humorous travel account "Letter From Carson – re: Joe Goodman; party at Gov. Johnson's; music" with "Mark Twain."[21]HP G62-a00 Battery

Twain moved to San Francisco, California in 1864, still as a journalist. He met writers such as Bret Harte, Artemus Ward, and Dan DeQuille. The young poet Ina Coolbrith may have romanced him.[22]HP G62-a00EF Battery

 

His first success as a writer came when his humorous tall tale, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," was published in a New York weekly, The Saturday Press, on November 18, 1865. It brought him national attention. A year later, he traveled to theSandwich Islands (present-day Hawaii) as a reporter for the Sacramento Union. His travelogues were popular and became the basis for his first lectures.[23]HP G62-a01SA Battery

 

In 1867, a local newspaper funded a trip to the Mediterranean. During his tour of Europe and the Middle East, he wrote a popular collection of travel letters, which were later compiled as The Innocents Abroad in 1869. It was on this trip that he met his future brother-in-law, Charles Langdon. HP G62-a03SA Battery

Both were passengers aboard the Quaker City on their way to the Holy Land. Langdon showed a picture of his sister Olivia to Twain; Twain claimed to have fallen in love at first sight. HP G62-a04EA Battery

 

Upon returning to the United States, Twain was offered honorary membership in the secret society Scroll and Key of Yale University in 1868.[24] Its devotion to "fellowship, moral and literary self-improvement, and charity" suited him well. HP G62-a04SA Battery

 

Marriage and children

vThroughout 1868, Twain and Olivia Langdon corresponded but she rejected his first marriage proposal. Two months later, they were engaged. In February 1870, Twain and Langdon were married in Elmira, New York,[23] where he had courted her. HP G62-a10SA Battery

She came from a "wealthy but liberal family," and through her he met abolitionists, "socialists, principled atheists and activists for women's rights and social equality," including Harriet Beecher Stowe (his next-door neighbor in Hartford, Connecticut), Frederick Douglass, and the writer and utopian socialist William Dean Howells,[25] HP G62-a13SA Battery

who became a long-time friend. The couple lived in Buffalo, New York from 1869 to 1871. Twain owned a stake in the Buffalo Express newspaper and worked as an editor and writer. While living in Buffalo, their son Langdon died of diphtheria at 19 months. HP G62-a13SE Battery

They had three daughters: Susy (1872–1896),Clara (1874–1962)[26] and Jean (1880–1909). The couple's marriage lasted 34 years, until Olivia's death in 1904. All of the Clemens family are buried in Elmira's Woodlawn Cemetery. HP G62-a15EO Battery

Twain moved his family to Hartford, Connecticut, where starting in 1873, he arranged the building of a home (local admirers saved it from demolition in 1927 and eventually turned it into a museum focused on him). In the 1870s and 1880s, Twain and his family summered at Quarry Farm, the home of Olivia's sister, Susan Crane.[27][28]HP G62-a15SA Battery

 In 1874,[27] Susan had a study built apart from the main house so that her brother-in-law would have a quiet place in which to write. Also, Twain smoked pipes constantly, and Susan Crane did not wish him to do so in her house. During his seventeen years in Hartford (1874–1891) and over twenty summers at Quarry Farm, HP G62-a16SA Battery

Twain wrote many of his classic novels, among them The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Prince and the Pauper (1881), Life on the Mississippi (1883), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889). HP G62-a17EA Battery

 

Twain made a second tour of Europe, described in the 1880 book A Tramp Abroad. His tour included a stay in Heidelberg from May 6 until July 23, 1878, and a visit to London. HP G62-a17SA Battery

 

Love of science and technology

Twain was fascinated with science and scientific inquiry. He developed a close and lasting friendship with Nikola Tesla, and the two spent much time together in Tesla's laboratory. HP G62-a18SA Battery

Twain patented three inventions, including an "Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments" (to replace suspenders) and a history trivia game.[29] Most commercially successful was a self-pasting scrapbook; a dried adhesive on the pages only needed to be moistened before use. HP G62-a19EA Battery

His book A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court features a time traveler from contemporary America, using his knowledge of science to introduce modern technology toArthurian England. This type of storyline would later become a common feature of ascience fiction sub-genre, alternate history. HP G62-a19SA Battery

In 1909, Thomas Edison visited Twain at his home in Redding, Connecticut and filmed him. Part of the footage was used in The Prince and the Pauper (1909), a two-reel short film. HP G62-a20SA Battery

Financial troubles

Twain made a substantial amount of money through his writing, but he lost a great deal through investments, mostly in new inventions and technology, particularly the Paige typesetting machine. It was a beautifully engineered mechanical marvel that amazed viewers when it worked, but was prone to breakdowns. HP G62-a21EA Battery

Twain spent $300,000 (equal to $8,058,462 today[30]) on it between 1880 and 1894,[31] but before it could be perfected, it was made obsolete by the Linotype. He lost not only the bulk of his book profits but also a substantial portion of his wife's inheritance.[32]HP G62-a21SA Battery

 

Twain also lost money through his publishing house, which enjoyed initial success selling the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, but went broke soon after, losing money on a biography of Pope Leo XIII; fewer than two hundred copies were sold.[32]HP G62-a22SA Battery

 

Twain's writings and lectures, combined with the help of a new friend, enabled him to recover financially.[33] In 1893, he began a 15-year-long friendship with financier Henry Huttleston Rogers, a principal of Standard Oil. Rogers first made Twain file for bankruptcy. HP G62-a23SA Battery

Then Rogers had Twain transfer the copyrights on his written works to his wife, Olivia, to prevent creditors from gaining possession of them. Finally, Rogers took absolute charge of Twain's money until all the creditors were paid. HP G62-a22SE Battery

 

Twain embarked on a year-long, around-the-world lecture tour in July 1895[34] to pay off his creditors in full, although he was no longer under any legal obligation to do so.[35] It would be a long, arduous journey and he was sick much of the time, mostly from a cold and a carbuncle. HP G62-a24SA Battery

The itinerary took him to Hawaii, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka,India, Mauritius, South Africa and England. Twain's three months in India became the centerpiece of his 712-page book Following the Equator. HP G62-a25EA Battery

 

In mid-1900, he was the guest of newspaper proprietor Hugh Gilzean-Reid at Dollis Hill House. Twain wrote of Dollis Hill that he had "never seen any place that was so satisfactorily situated, with its noble trees and stretch of country, and everything that went to make life delightful, and all within a biscuit's throw of the metropolis of the world."[36] He then returned to America in 1900, having earned enough to pay off his debts. HP G62-a25SA Battery

 

Speaking engagements

Twain was in demand as a featured speaker, performing solo humorous talks similar to what would become stand-up comedy.[37] He gave paid talks to many men's clubs, including the Authors' Club, Beefsteak Club, Vagabonds, White Friars, and Monday Evening Club of Hartford. He was made an honorary member of the Bohemian Club in San Francisco. HP G62-a26SA Battery

In the late 1890s, he spoke to the Savage Club in London and was elected honorary member. When told that only three men had been so honored, including thePrince of Wales, he replied "Well, it must make the Prince feel mighty fine."[38]HP G62-a27SA Battery

 In 1897, Twain spoke to the Concordia Press Club in Vienna as a special guest, following diplomatCharlemagne Tower, Jr.. In German, to the great amusement of the assemblage, Twain delivered the speech "Die Schrecken der deutschen Sprache" ("The Horrors of the German Language").[39]HP G62-a28SA Battery

 

Later life and death

Twain passed through a period of deep depression, which began in 1896 when his daughter Susy died of meningitis. Olivia's death in 1904 and Jean's on December 24, 1909, deepened his gloom.[40] On May 20, 1909, his close friend Henry Rogers died suddenly. In 1906, Twain began his autobiography in the North American Review. HP G62-a29EA Battery

In April, Twain heard that his friend Ina Coolbrith had lost nearly all she owned in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and he volunteered a few autographed portrait photographs to be sold for her benefit. To further aid Coolbrith, George Wharton James visited Twain in New York and arranged for a new portrait session. Initially resistant, Twain admitted that four of the resulting images were the finest ones ever taken of him.[41]HP G62-a29SA Battery

 

Twain formed a club in 1906 for girls he viewed as surrogate granddaughters, the Angel Fish and Aquarium Club. The dozen or so members ranged in age from 10 to 16. Twain exchanged letters with his "Angel Fish" girls and invited them to concerts and the theatre and to play games. Twain wrote in 1908 that the club was his "life's chief delight."[42]HP G62-a30SA Battery

 

Twain began his career writing light, humorous verse, but evolved into a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies and murderous acts of mankind. At mid-career, with Huckleberry Finn, he combined rich humor, sturdy narrative and social criticism. HP G62-a38EE Battery

Twain was a master at rendering colloquial speech and helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. Many of Twain's works have been suppressed at times for various reasons. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been repeatedly restricted in American high schools, not least for its frequent use of the word "nigger," which was in common usage in the pre-Civil War period in which the novel was set. HP G62-a40SA Battery

 

A complete bibliography of his works is nearly impossible to compile because of the vast number of pieces written by Twain (often in obscure newspapers) and his use of several different pen names. Additionally, a large portion of his speeches and lectures have been lost or were not written down; thus, the collection of Twain's works is an ongoing process. Researchers rediscovered published material by Twain as recently as 1995.[32]HP G62-a43SA Battery

 

While writing for the Virginia City newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise in 1863, Clemens met lawyer Tom Fitch, editor of the competing newspaper Virginia Daily Union and known as the "silver-tongued orator of the Pacific."[48]:51HP G62-a44EE Battery

 He credited Fitch with giving him his "first really profitable lesson" in writing. In 1866, Clemens presented his lecture on the Sandwich Islands to a crowd in Washoe City, Nevada.[49] Clemens commented that, "When I first began to lecture, and in my earlier writings, my sole idea was to make comic capital out of everything I saw and heard." HP G62-a44SA Battery

Fitch told him, "Clemens, your lecture was magnificent. It was eloquent, moving, sincere. Never in my entire life have I listened to such a magnificent piece of descriptive narration. But you committed one unpardonable sin—the unpardonable sin. HP G62-a45SA Battery

It is a sin you must never commit again. You closed a most eloquent description, by which you had keyed your audience up to a pitch of the intensest interest, with a piece of atrocious anti-climax which nullified all the really fine effect you had produced."[50] It was in these days that Twain became a writer of the Sagebrush School, and was known later as the most notable within this literary genre.[51]HP G62-a50SG Battery

 

Twain's first important work, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," was first published in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865. The only reason it was published there was that his story arrived too late to be included in a book Artemus Ward was compiling featuring sketches of the wild American West. HP G62-a53SG Battery

 

After this burst of popularity, the Sacramento Union commissioned Twain to write letters about his travel experiences. The first journey he took for this job was to ride the steamerAjax in its maiden voyage to Hawaii, referred to at the time as the Sandwich Islands. HP G62-a60SA Battery

These humorous letters proved the genesis to his work with the San Francisco Alta California newspaper, which designated him a traveling correspondent for a trip from San Francisco to New York City via the Panama isthmus. HP G62-b00SA Battery

All the while, Twain was writing letters meant for publishing back and forth, chronicling his experiences with his burlesque humor. On June 8, 1867, Twain set sail on the pleasure cruiser Quaker City for five months. This trip resulted in The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrims' Progress. HP G62-b09SA Battery

 

This book is a record of a pleasure trip. If it were a record of a solemn scientific expedition it would have about it the gravity, that profundity, and that impressive incomprehensibility which are so proper to works of that kind, and withal so attractive. HP G62-b10SA Battery

Yet not withstanding it is only a record of a picnic, it has a purpose, which is, to suggest to the reader how he would be likely to see Europe and the East if he looked at them with his own eyes instead of the eyes of those who traveled in those countries before him. I make small pretense of showing anyone how he ought to look at objects of interest beyond the sea – other books do that, and therefore, even if I were competent to do it, there is no need. HP G62-b11SA Battery

 

In 1872, Twain published a second piece of travel literature, Roughing It, as a semi-sequel to InnocentsRoughing It is a semi-autobiographical account of Twain's journey to Nevada and his subsequent life in the American West. HP G62-b12SA Battery

The book lampoons American and Western society in the same way that Innocents critiqued the various countries of Europe and the Middle East. Twain's next work kept Roughing It's focus on American society but focused more on the events of the day. HP G62-b13EA Battery

Entitled The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, it was not a travel piece, as his previous two books had been, and it was his first attempt at writing anovel. The book is also notable because it is Twain's only collaboration; it was written with his neighbor Charles Dudley Warner. HP G62-b13SA Battery

 

Twain's next two works drew on his experiences on the Mississippi River. Old Times on the Mississippi, a series of sketches published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1875, featured Twain's disillusionment with Romanticism.[52] Old Times eventually became the starting point for Life on the Mississippi. HP G62-b14SA Battery

 

TOM SAWYER AND HUCKLEBERRY FINN

Twain's next major publication was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which drew on his youth in Hannibal. Tom Sawyer was modeled on Twain as a child, with traces of two schoolmates, John Briggs and Will Bowen. The book also introduced in a supporting role Huckleberry Finn, based on Twain's boyhood friend Tom Blankenship. HP G62-b15SA Battery

 

The Prince and the Pauper, despite a storyline that is omnipresent in film and literature today, was not as well received. Telling the story of two boys born on the same day who are physically identical, the book acts as a social commentary as the prince and pauper switch places. HP G62-b16EA Battery

Pauper was Twain's first attempt at historical fiction, and blame for its shortcomings is usually put on Twain for having not been experienced enough in English society, and also on the fact that it was produced after a massive hit. HP G62-b16SA Battery

In between the writing of Pauper, Twain had started Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which he consistently had problems completing[53]) and started and completed another travel book,A Tramp Abroad, which follows Twain as he traveled through central and southern Europe. HP G62-b17EO Battery

 

Twain's next major published work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, solidified him as a noteworthy American writer. Some have called it the first Great American Novel, and the book has become required reading in many schools throughout the United States.Huckleberry Finn was an offshoot from Tom Sawyer and had a more serious tone than its predecessor. HP G62-b17SA Battery

The main premise behind Huckleberry Finn is the young boy's belief in the right thing to do though most believed that it was wrong. Four hundred manuscript pages of Huckleberry Finn were written in mid-1876, right after the publication of Tom Sawyer.Some accounts have Twain taking seven years off after his first burst of creativity, eventually finishing the book in 1883. HP G62-b18SA Battery

Other accounts have Twain working on Huckleberry Finn in tandem with The Prince and the Pauper and other works in 1880 and other years. The last fifth of Huckleberry Finn is subject to much controversy. Some say that Twain experienced, as critic Leo Marx puts it, a "failure of nerve." Ernest Hemingway once said ofHuckleberry Finn: HP G62-b19SA Battery

 

If you read it, you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating.

Hemingway also wrote in the same essay:

All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.[54]HP G62-b20SA Battery

 

Near the completion of Huckleberry Finn, Twain wrote Life on the Mississippi, which is said to have heavily influenced the former book.[32] The work recounts Twain's memories and new experiences after a 22-year absence from the Mississippi. In it, he also states that "Mark Twain" was the call made when the boat was in safe water – two fathoms(12 ft/3.7 m). HP G62-B20so Battery

 

LATER WRITING

After his great work, Twain began turning to his business endeavors to keep them afloat and to stave off the increasing difficulties he had been having from his writing projects. Twain focused on President Ulysses S. Grant's Memoirs for his fledgling publishing company, HP G62-b21SA Battery

finding time in between to write "The Private History of a Campaign That Failed" for The Century Magazine. This piece detailed his two-week stint in a Confederate militia during the Civil War. The name of his publishing company was Charles L. Webster & Company, which he owned with Charles L. Webster, his nephew by marriage.[55]HP G62-b22SA Battery

 

Twain next focused on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, which featured him making his first big pronouncement of disappointment with politics. Written with the same "historical fiction" style of The Prince and the PauperHP G62-b23SA Battery

A Connecticut Yankee showed the absurdities of political and social norms by setting them in the court of King Arthur. The book was started in December 1885, then shelved a few months later until the summer of 1887, and eventually finished in the spring of 1889. HP G62-b24SA Battery

 

Twain had begun to furiously write articles and commentary with diminishing returns to pay the bills and keep his business projects afloat, but it was not enough. He filed for bankruptcy in 1894. HP G62-b25SA Battery

 

His next large-scale work, Pudd'nhead Wilson, was written rapidly, as Twain was desperately trying to stave off the bankruptcy. From November 12 to December 14, 1893, Twain wrote 60,000 words for the novel.[32] HP G62-b26SA Battery

Critics have pointed to this rushed completion as the cause of the novel's rough organization and constant disruption of continuous plot. There were parallels between this work and Twain's financial failings, notably his desire to escape his current constraints and become a different person. HP G62-b27EA Battery

 

Like The Prince and the Pauper, this novel also contains the tale of two boys born on the same day who switch positions in life. Considering the circumstances of Twain's birth and Halley's Comet, and his strong belief in the paranormal, it is not surprising that these "mystic" connections recur throughout his writing. HP G62-b27SA Battery

 

The actual title is not clearly established. It was first published serially in Century Magazine, and when it was finally published in book form, Pudd'nhead Wilson appeared as the main title; however, the disputed "subtitles" make the entire title read: The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson and the Comedy of The Extraordinary Twins.[32]HP G62 Battery


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