Happy 174th Birthday, Mark Twain!
3rd December 2009
Samuel Langhore Clemens, best known as his pseudonym Mark Twain, was born November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri. He went on to become a legend in American literature, penning such classics as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Forrest G. Robinson, Professor of American Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz and Twain scholar, contends that Twain used his fiction as a way to reveal his own inner workings. He explains, “He was, he confessed, like a cat who labors in vain to bury the waste that he has left behind. He wrote out of an enduring need to come to terms with his remembered experiences—not to memorialize the past, but to transform it.” One of the particular struggles Twain wrote about in his work was of guilt and morality, particularly in regards to slavery and the Civil War. In The Author-Cat: Clemens’s Life in Fiction Robinson sheds light on this darker side to Twain’s personality, examining his work for evidence of the personal demons he battled in his daily life. It’s an intriguing premise, as the author is known best for his singular brand of sharp humor and folksy demeanor.
Get to know the man behind the myth!