Mark Twain An American Icon Voice of America Mirror of America
Twain: Icon and Iconoclast • The icon who broke the icon • The voice of both praise and criticism • The mirror reflects both the beauty and the ugly • A money seeker in contempt of money a true man
Why American Mirror? • What is America? • People • Story • Language • Spirit • Itself An icon of America, Mark Twain was a true original who possibly did more for American literature than any other writer in history.
"When I was a boy there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades...that was to be a steamboatman." - Mark Twain
…the romantic icon of America's Mississippi River history • Though the career of steamboatman is not a common ambition among children today, the lure of steamboat travel is as strong as ever. There is no greater way to explore America's heritage than to make a timeless voyage aboard the authentic paddlewheel steamboat Delta Queen, fully restored with rich oak and mahogany woods and Tiffany stained-glass windows.
Join the National Trust on a very special exploration of America's heartland, where the scenery and pleasures of steamboating have changed little since the days of Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher.
“Mark Twain was a lifelong creator and keeper of scrapbooks. He took them with him everywhere and filled them with souvenirs, pictures, and articles about his books and performances. In 1872, he patented his “self-pasting” scrapbook, and by 1901, at least 57 different types of his albums were available. It would be his only invention that ever made money.”
Mark Twain Inspired by his invention of the scrapbook, this electronic scrapbook records information about probably the most famous and beloved humorist, satirist, and entertainer in American history and illustrates some of Mark Twain’s quotations about every aspect of our lives.
As a young man Twain worked as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. When he started his writing career, Samuel Clemens adopted the name “Mark Twain,” which meant two fathoms, a safe depth for a riverboat. Pictures from www.pbs.org
In 1861, Samuel Clemens avoided the brewing Civil War by going west. He took his first writing job as reporter at the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. Serious news was often mixed with “reports” that had to be taken with a grain of salt. Soon, he began using the name Mark Twain and affixing it to sketches, reportage, and an occasional hoax. It was a time when he first discovered his talent, his calling, and his voice. Pictures from www.pbs.org
At 34 years of age he married Olivia Langdon Clemens. She was the daughter of a New York coal magnate, a member of the country’s wealthy elite. She would be partner, editor, and fellow traveler in success and failure for the next thirty-five years. She would also furnish him her family’s home in Elmira, New York, a place where he visited often and wrote many of his best-loved books. Pictures from www.pbs.org
Though his most famous novel is criticized for being racist, Mark Twain never expected nor intended the controversy that arose with the publication of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain was not racist, but depicted life in his times. “I vividly remember seeing a dozen black men and women chained to one another, once, and lying in a group on the pavement, awaiting shipment to the Southern slave market. Those were the saddest faces I have ever seen.”– Mark Twain. Pictures from www.pbs.org
"I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. All I care to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can't be any worse." Pictures from www.pbs.org
By 1900 Twain had become America’s foremost celebrity. He was invited to attend ship launchings, anniversary gatherings, political conventions, and countless dinners. Reporters met him at every port of call, anxious to print a new quip from the famous humorist. To enhance his image, he took to wearing white suits and loved to stroll down the street and see people staring at him. Pictures from www.pbs.org
In time, the Clemens home became a revolving door for the leading names of the day: Howells, Sherman, Cable, Harte, and others. But it also saw Clemens involve himself in fanciful investment schemes that led to his bankruptcy—and eventual departure. Pictures from www.pbs.org
Because of financial problems, Clemens lived in Europe from 1891-1901, but this was neither his first nor last trip abroad. In fact, he was an inveterate traveler. From the age of 17 to the last few weeks of his life he was always discovering new places and revisiting old. He crisscrossed the Atlantic more than a dozen times and also saw Turkey, Palestine, Hawaii, Australia, India, and South Africa. Pictures from www.pbs.org
He developed as a speaker and traveled on lecture circuits, much in demand. His early performances combined humor, information and eloquence in measures that delighted most people. Pictures from www.pbs.org
When he died on April 21, 1910, newspapers around the country declared, “The whole world is mourning.” By then, Sam Clemens had long since ceased to be a private citizen. He had become Mark Twain, a proud possession of the American nation. “I was sorry to have my name mentioned as one of the great authors, because they have a sad habit of dying off. Chaucer is dead, Spencer is dead, so is Milton, so is Shakespeare, and I’m not feeling so well myself.” —Mark Twain Pictures from www.pbs.org
“I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: "Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together." Mark Twain died in 1910, the year Halley’s Comet appeared. Pictures from www.pbs.org
Mark Twain was one of the great artists of all time. He was and is one authentic giant of our national literature. Twain's quotes and humor are as popular today as at any time in American history.
“Wisdom teaches us that none but birds should go out early, and that not even birds should do it unless they are out of worms.”
“Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can.” "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress." Picture from www.pbs.org
“Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live.” Picture from Dave Thomson collection: www.twainquotes.com
“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” Picture from Dave Thomson collection: www.twainquotes.com
“Nothing is made in vain, but the fly came near it.” “I'd rather have ten snakes in the house than one fly.”
“Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” Picture from Dave Thomson collection: www.twainquotes.com
“The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's.” Picture from Dave Thomson collection: www.twainquotes.com
“Humor is mankind's greatest blessing.” “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”
“In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made SchoolBoards.” Picture from Dave Thomson collection: www.twainquotes.com
“By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity--another man's I mean.” Picture from Dave Thomson collection: www.twainquotes.com
“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.” “Classic--a book which people praise and don't read.”
“The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money." Picture from Dave Thomson collection: www.twainquotes.com
“It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”
"Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person."
“Humor is mankind's greatest blessing.” The End Picture from Dave Thomson collection: www.twainquotes.com
Bibliography Page "Mark Twain." Public Broadcasting Service. 12 Aug 2004 http://www.pbs.org/marktwain/index.html . Schmidt, Barbara. "Mark Twain's Quotations, Newspaper Collections, and Related Resources." 4 Sep 1997. 12 Aug 2004 <http://www.twainquotes.com>. Pictures from the Dave Thomson collection are found at:http://www.twainquotes.com "easylit. com." Mark Twain. 12 Aug 2004 http://www.easylit.com/marktwain/twainhistory.htm . Railton, Stephen. "Mark Twain and His Times." University of Virginia. 12 Aug 2004 http://etext.virginia.edu/railton/