Mark Twain (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
It is difficult to overestimate Mark Twain’s place in American literature. With Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), he established the vernacular voice in American literature. He is quoted more often than any other writer except William Shakespeare. His friend William Dean Howells called him “the Lincoln of our literature.” Twain’s life spanned the American nineteenth century, from the antebellum period through the Gilded Age into the beginning of the twentieth century. Twain said of himself, “I am not an American, I am the American.” With the assistance of the Mark Twain Project at the University of California at Berkeley, biographer Ron Powers has been able to incorporate many recently discovered letters and notebooks in his massive new historical work, Mark Twain: A Life.
In his prologue, Powers emphasizes the importance of the November, 1869, meeting in the Boston offices of the publisher Tichnor & Fields, between Twain and Howells, the young editor of The Atlantic Monthly. This encounter would blossom into a close literary friendship which would connect the Brahmin tastes of American high literary culture with Twain’s vigorous, new American vernacular style. Twain was a deeply subversive figure, ridiculing and mocking American genteel attitudes and tastes in his first book, The Innocents Abroad (1869). It is to Howells’s credit that he recognized the enormous talent behind Twain’s...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Booklist 101, no. 22 (August 1, 2005): 1982.
The Christian Science Monitor, September 27, 2005, p. 11.
Library Journal 130, no. 13 (August 15, 2005): 86.
National Review 58, no. 1 (January 30, 2006): 54-55.
The New York Times 155 (September 21, 2005): E1-E6.
The New York Times Book Review 155 (October 2, 2005): 13-14.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 30 (August 1, 2005): 60.
The Washington Post, October 9, 2005, p. T4.
Weekly Standard 11, no. 1 (September 19, 2005): 53-56.
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