Mark Twain: Biography
One of the most famous authors in the time of Realisms in USA. His name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He was born on November 30, 1835, in Florida. Florida is a town in Missouri. He grew up in Hannibal, because when he was four years old his family moved to Hannibal in Missouri. Hannibal is a small sleepy town on the west bank of the Mississippi. He was enchanted by the romance of river life. In Hannibal he received a public school education. His father worked as a storekeeper. He died when Samuel was eleven years old. After this bad experience he started to learn from two Hannibal’s printers. In 1851 he began with writing to his brother Orion’s Hannibal Journal. Then he was a journeyman printer in Keokuk, New York, Philadelphia, Iowa and other cities. He had a commission to write some comic travel letters for the Keokuk “Daily Post”. This comic letters he signed with the pseudonym “Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass”. He contributed to the Boston humorous paper “The Carpet – Bag.”
He liked the Mississippi River and on the way down the Mississippi toward New Orleans, he met a steamboat pilot named Horace Bixby. He taught him the mysteries of navigating the tortuous channels of the great and treacherous river. He became a steamboat pilot for four years alongside Horace Bixby till American Civil War. After 1859 he was a licensed pilot in his own right. American Civil War brought an end to the travel on the river. Later he remembered these years as the most carefree time of his life. He would never meet a man like Horace Bixby who would know more about the river. Subsequently he spent a few weeks as a Confederate volunteer.
Later that year he accompanied his brother to the newly created Nevada. Here he poorly tried to mine the silver and gold. He became a writer for the Virginia City “Territorial Enterprise”. He signed as “Josh”, but here in Virginia City on February 3, 1863 he started to sign as “Mark Twain”. The pseudonym means two fathoms deep.
In the spring 1864 he left Nevada for California. In San Francisco he met two authors named Bret Harte and Artemus Ward. Artemus Ward is pseudonym of Charles Farrar Browne. Later he became one of the most popular American humorists. Those men encouraged Clemens. Clements reworked a tale he had heard in the California gold fields in November 1865. Within the months Clements and the story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, had become national sensation. This story was published in A New York periodical “The Saturday Press”. It is typical western humor story about the Stranger who cheats a famous frogs’ racer and beats him.
In 1866 Clemens set out for the trip from San Francisco to Honolulu with Pacific Steamboat Company. He worked on a ship as a correspondent for “The Sacramento Union”. Later he became traveling correspondent for California’s largest paper “Alta California”. His letters were immediately popular. He visited Isthmus of Panama, Europe, Holy Land etc. In 1869 he produce his letters as “The Innocence Abroad”. The book showed that Mark Twain had found a method of writing about travel. He described serious passages history, statistics, technical parameters etc.
In 1870 he met Olivia Langdon of Elmira. He fell in love. On February 2, 1870 they were married in New York. In September 1871 they moved to Hartford, Connecticut. Here Twain built a large house in which he and his family would live for next 20 years. They had three daughters. Much of his best work was written in the 1870s and 1880s in his house in Hartford or during the summers at Quarry Farm. It was the happiest and most productive period of his life.
In 1884 he formed the firm Charles L. Webster and Company to publish his books. He invested to the automatic typesetting machine and it led to the firm’s bankruptcy. Then he suffered big financial losses, he took his family to Europe where living was cheaper. He soon paid off his debts. In 1903 he and his family settled near Florence, Italy. Two of his daughters and wife died six month later and his health was undermined. This experience very influenced his next work. He was bitterish. He died, when Halley’s Comet appeared in the night sky. Before his death he said: “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again this year, and I expect to go out with it.”
He wrote “Roughing It” (1872), it is about his early adventures as a miner and journalist; “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”(1876) is perhaps his best book for a juvenile audience. It is situated in a small Mississippi River town. The main character is Tom Sawyer. He is a ordinary young boy with typical young boys’ problems. The book has happy end. This is very important for small readers. “A Tramp Abroad” (1880) describes a walking trip through the Black Forest of Germany and the Swiss Alps. “The Prince and the Pauper” (1882), is a children's book situated to the England; “Life on the Mississippi (1883) is about an autobiographical account of his experiences as a river pilot with a visit to the Mississippi nearly two decades after he left it; “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court” (1889) is about England. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1884), the sequel to Tom Sawyer, is considered as his masterpiece. This book I’ll describe in the next part of my essay.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
He wrote lots of books and I choose one of the most popular The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It is a story of young man named Huckleberry Finn and about his black friend Jim, we can find here also the figure named Tom Sawyer. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer inspires this book. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a free sequel to The Adventure of Tom Sawyer. Huck is relatively rich young boy who lived with a widow Douglas. She adopted him. He was rich, because he found the treasure in cave. He was very bored of a life with the widow Douglas. He had to be very proper. But it was very horrible for him. On this farm he met Jim. He was a black slave. He worked for widow Douglas. He had family, who worked for widow Douglas too. One day Tom said that they would find the gang. But there were very horrible rules. If somebody left the club and betrayed the secret, he and his family would be killed. Their activity would be to hold up passengers in coaches. It was crazy idea, but everybody agreed. Their idea of stealing wasn’t successful finished. They were as Don Quito, mainly Tom Sawyer. They imagined the enemy in various common things. A few weeks later the gang was canceled. One day Huck’s father came and took Huck from the widow Douglas. His father was a drunkard. He was very evil. Huck worried about his money.
He safely saved his money by the judge Thatcher, because his father wanted all his money and he extorted the judge. When he was unsuccessful they moved together into a small cottage near the Mississippi River. It was a very horrible and musty barrack. He had to stay here. Every morning he had to fish. One day he decided that he would go away. But his father would have to think that he was killed. He made up a plan. When her father went to the city he started to accomplish his plan. At first he found a nice boat going downstream. He caught the boat and bound it to the bank. Next he hunted a pig and cut him and his blood he split on the floor. It looked at its blood on the floor. Next he stole some food from the cottage. When he led the boat he set out for new adventures. He drifted downstream the river for a long time. After about four kilometers he landed on the bank. He fell asleep. He was wakening up by the sound. He heard a steamboat. It was steamboat with people who were searching for him. He hid under the bushes. Nobody saw him. When the dangerous passed away he explored the island. He found Jim. Jim got frightened. He thought that Huck was spirit. But it wasn’t true. Huck told Jim the story about his escape. They stayed on this place for several days. When there was a storm, they found the raft and in some small cottage, which floated around them. Jim explored the cottage, but he said to Tom that there wasn’t anything to see. They prepared the raft for the trip downstream to the Caira on the south end of Illinois. They wanted to go there, because the wanted to sell the raft and go up the river by steamboat on the north where here is freedom for slaves. But they passed the town.
They set out for the trip downstream the river. They floated only in the night because Jim was a runaway slave and he was wanted. When somebody met them Huck made up effective excuses. When they were floating few nights they came across on an old steamboat. Huck wanted to explore the steamboat. Jim wasn’t so pleased with this thing. Huck climbed up the steamboat. He went to the under-deck. Here he found a dangerous gang. They wanted to kill one of them pat. He returned to the deck, but their raft floated away. They took the gang’s boat, which lay at the anchor of the boat, and they were floating downstream for a few hours. After a few hours they found their raft. They had bad experience with the steamboat. One of them hit into the raft and Huck and Jim were separated. Huck found some desert cottage. He made friends. This family fought against the Shepherds family. After a few days he met Jim on the back of the river. He was very pleasured seeing him. They set out for the next trip.
One day they met two men. They were called Duke and King. They asked them if they could float with them. Jim and Huck agreed. They spent lots of adventures. Duke and King were cheats. They traveled form town to town and preyed the trustful people. They played the Shakespeare’s acts, opened a dancing school, organized the anti alcohol meeting, they tried to rob a young window etc. This earned them some money, but they played hazard games and they lost them. When they hadn’t any money King and Duke sold Jim, because he was wanted. He was on the Phelps ranch. They earned $ 40. Duke and King turned tail and nobody saw them. But Huck said a bad address of miss Watson to King and Duke and they told the same bad address to Mr. Phelps. He tried to make a contact with widow Douglas.
When Huck was desperate he wrote a letter to miss Watson. He wrote that she would send the reward Mr. Phelps would give her Jim. But he never sent this letter. He decided that he released him from the prison. He set out for the Phelps’ ranch. But when he came, they thought that Huck is Tom Sawyer, because they expected him. He was confused. He set out for the trip to the port, because Tom had to arrive and he had to speak with him before he would come to the ranch. It was successful. It was really Tom Sawyer from the town where Huck was born. Huck told Tom’s his entire story about his trip on the raft. Tom decided that they released Jim from the prison, but Tom was a big dreamer and reader of adventurous books. And he made up a horrible plan for Jim’s release. At first they dug out a tunnel under Jim’s bed. They gave him some snakes and rants into the small cottage where he was kept in prison. They produced for him tackled stair, but he didn’t want it and they gave him lots of others unusual things. At the end they wrote a letter for Mr. Phelps. There was written that some gang wanted to carry Jim from the prison. But it was a crazy idea. Mr. Phelps invited some of his friend with guns and when Tom and Huck evaporated from Jim’s prison Tom was shot up by one of the shooters. They hid in raft. Huck called the doctor and he took Jim and Tom to the Phelps’ farm. Jim and Tom explained everything to Mr. and Ms. Phelps. Jim was free because in the testament widow Douglas liberated him. Tom and Huck were newly rich, because the money was safety save by the judge Thatcher.
This book belong to the past big culture settlement.
It shows us how America looked in the firs half of 19th century. The author placed his realistic experience from her boyhood into this book. He tried to show us the hard life in the south. He tried to refer to slavery life. This problem was very actual in the south part of America. It was one of the reasons for start of America’s Civil War. This book shows a common life between black slave Jim and white young boy Huck. And when they were in problems they were equivalent. He described the life on the Mississippi River. He wrote the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, when he was a fifty-year-old. This book was very important for his life and it was sequel of no less popular novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which he wrote ten years ago, it means when he was a forty-year-old.
The writer perfect knows the people’s soul. He has a pregnant literature style and it gives a new charge to his book. This book is very attractive for young people. He criticizes the petty bourgeoisie.