Mark Twain began life in Florida, Missouri, where he was born on November 30, 1835. (“Major Works.”) Twain was originally named Samuel Langhorne Clemens, but later began using the pen name, Mark Twain. (“Major Works.”) He modeled his new name after terms that were used while he was on the river boat, mark meaning measure, and twain meaning two. (“Frequently Asked Questions”) Mark Twain wrote possibly one of his most famous books, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in 1884. (“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”) The novel was set in a time period before the Civil War. (“Major Works.”) Twain wrote this novel in a way that is telling a section of the main character Huck Finn’s life story, as a chain of unlikely events as he and Jim – a runaway slave – take a small wooden raft down the Mississippi River. (“Major Works.”)
Mark Twain was an American writer who first began writing articles for different newspapers in Philadelphia and New York City at the age of eighteen. (“Major Works.”) When Samuel was just four years old, he and his family moved to a small town on the banks of the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri. (“Major Works.”) Clemens spent most of his childhood living aside the river. (“Major Works.”) Both Samuel’s father and his uncle were slave owners when he was young. (“Major Works.”) In a way, he grew up with the slaves, listening to any of their stories they would tell him. (“Major Works.”) His father passed away when Samuel was only eleven years old. (“Major Works.”) The novel gives a type of representation of what life was like along the Mississippi River during the time period this novel was set in. Because he spent most of his childhood living alongside the Mississippi River and working on the steamboat once he was older, Twain was able to give us a thorough story of what it was like being on or near the river in that time.
“Sometimes you gwyne to git hurt, en sometimes you gwyne to git sick; but every time you’s gwyne to git well agin.” (Twain, 1884.) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has a very different writing style than most novels. Twain uses a very casual style in his writings. He also wrote this novel using an extensive amount of slang. I believe he intentionally did this to have a more accurate representation of the various types of language that were being used in the south during that time period. Twain seems to have his own style of writing in which he doesn’t conform to the typical ways of writing a story or novel. The time in which Mark Twain lived also had a great effect on how he wrote his stories. He often wrote about slavery and how people were treated considerably different, because unequal treatment was a major part of everyday life during his time. In that time, it was a normal circumstance for someone to own a few or several slaves that would work on their farms, in their houses, or in other places. Because of this, it was fitting that Twain would include so much detail and description about slavery and slave owners in his story without it being out of the ordinary, considering that it was an average situation during that time period.
“Human beings can be awful cruel to one another.” (Twain, 1884.) Most critics go into a certain amount of detail about how Twain used a more relaxed writing style than other authors and writers in many of his stories and the numerous dialects used to more accurately depict the different types of language being used at the setting time of the story. Some critics used more positive criticism, by describing both Twain and his book as “genius” in the ways he incorporated the many dialects into the story. (“The 1885 Reviews,” 2017) Other critics were a little more negative with their criticism, by considering the story to be “cheap,” and that Twain is not worthy of being listed among other recognizable humorists. (“The 1885 Reviews,” 2017) There are many positive and negative views and opinions on Mark Twain’s novel, but overall, the book was written for humor and entertainment. Some critics could have possibly taken the book too seriously, and in turn, found the entirety of the story to be too unrealistic and extravagant for them to consider it a good novel to spend time reading. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is unlike most novels that typical authors would write, and trying to read it the same way, like an average novel may make the story seem somewhat random at times. (“The 1885 Reviews,” 2017)
“Jim said that bees won’t sting idiots, but I didn’t believe that, because I tried them lots of times myself and they wouldn’t sting me.” (Twain, 1884.) Mark Twain made a tremendous impact on American Literature during his lifetime. He wrote many short stories, articles, and novels throughout his writing career, with the main intent of bringing a vast sense of joy, laughter, and entertainment to all of the readers of his works. His book does not follow the typical format of a novel; he made the story his own and went through all the events with great detail and description, whether it was a more ordinary moment or one of the high points of the story. Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as if Huckleberry Finn were telling you part of his life story himself; a story filled with life experiences, containing plenty of obstacles, difficulties, and complications throughout the journey, but also having some very loyal friends that were willing to stay with him until the end. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn can show you that although you will often go through many issues and struggles throughout your life, having just a few irreprehensible, dependable friends that will do anything for you to go through it with you makes everything a lot easier than going through it alone.
- Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Chatto & Windus / Charles L. Webster And Company, 0AD.
- “Major Works.” Mark Twain House, marktwainhouse.org/about/mark-twain/major-works/.
- “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (1885).” ZSR Library, 2 Aug. 2016, zsr.wfu.edu/2013/adventures-of-huckleberry-finn-by-mark-twain-1885/.
- Dan Sheehan. “The 1885 Reviews of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Book Marks, Riverhead Books, 7 Nov. 2017, bookmarks.reviews/the-1885-reviews-of-mark-twains-adventures-of-huckleberry-finn/.
- Greenblatt, Alan. “Why Mark Twain Still Matters.” NPR, NPR, 21 Apr. 2010, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126135081.
- “Frequently Asked Questions.” The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, www.marktwainmuseum.org/frequently-asked-questions/.