Mark Twain has always been one of my favorite authors. He writes great stories with a language that is all his own, with a talent for writing dialogue. He has created many beloved characters and written many stories that are still cherished today. Not only is he a wonderful writer, but he is also known for his “twainisms” and his willingness to offer his opinion on many subjects (to put it politely). Visit www.twainquotes.com to find his opinion on almost any subject you can think of; I promise you’ll have a good laugh, too. Below is his short biography and a complete list of his works.
BIOGRAPHY (Courtesy of www.cmgww.com/historic/twain “The Mark Twain Website”)
Approximately four years after his birth, in 1839, the Clemens family moved 35 miles east to the town of Hannibal. A growing port city that lie along the banks of the Mississippi, Hannibal was a frequent stop for steam boats arriving by both day and night from St. Louis and New Orleans.
Samuel’s father was a judge, and he built a two-story frame house at 206 Hill Street in 1844. As a youngster, Samuel was kept indoors because of poor health. However, by age nine, he seemed to recover from his ailments and joined the rest of the town’s children outside. He then attended a private school in Hannibal.
When Samuel was 12, his father died of pneumonia, and at 13, Samuel left school to become a printer’s apprentice. After two short years, he joined his brother Orion’s newspaper as a printer and editorial assistant. It was here that young Samuel found he enjoyed writing.
At 17, he left Hannibal behind for a printer’s job in St. Louis. While in St. Louis, Clemens became a river pilot’s apprentice. He became a licensed river pilot in 1858. Clemens’ pseudonym, Mark Twain, comes from his days as a river pilot. It is a river term which means two fathoms or 12-feet when the depth of water for a boat is being sounded. “Mark twain” means that is safe to navigate.
Because the river trade was brought to a stand still by the Civil War in 1861, Clemens began working as a newspaper reporter for several newspapers all over the United States. In 1870, Clemens married Olivia Langdon, and they had four children, one of whom died in infancy and two who died in their twenties. Their surviving child, Clara, lived to be 88, and had one daughter. Clara’s daughter died without having any children, so there are no direct descendants of Samuel Clemens living.
Twain began to gain fame when his story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County” appeared in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865. Twain’s first book, “The Innocents Abroad,” was published in 1869, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” in 1876, and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in 1885. He wrote 28 books and numerous short stories, letters and sketches.
Mark Twain passed away on April 21, 1910, but has a following still today. His childhood home is open to the public as a museum in Hannibal, and Calavaras County in California holds the Calavaras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee every third weekend in May. Walking tours are given in New York City of places Twain visited near his birthday every year.
Although there are MANY books that have been banned, challenged, and even burned- I have only included in this list those that I have read (and I’m sure I’m missing some). Take the time to read through this list of books and the reasons they have fallen under attack. It is my hope to one day live in a world where a person’s ideas will never be considered wrong or unworthy of hearing and their personal observations, opinions, and experiences never considered material only worth burning.
1984- George Orwell (1949)
Banned by Soviet Union in 1950 by Stalin, who believed it was a satire of his leadership. Also banned in the United States for its “pro-communist” content.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain (1885)
Banned and challenged for its language, depiction of slavery, and use of the word “nigger.”
Animal Farm- George Orwell (1945)
Banned in several counties (starting with Stalin’s Soviet Russia) for its representation of Communism.
Beloved- Toni Morrison (1987)
Banned and challenged for its violent content and sexual material.
Brave New World- Aldous Huxley (1932)
Banned in several states and countries because of language, and the character’s immoral behavior portrayed as “fun.”
Call of the Wild- Jack London (1903)
Banned for being “too radical” and burned in Nazi fires in 1933.
Catch-22- Joseph Heller (1961)
Banned and challenged in several states for language and several references to women as “whores.”
The Catcher in the Rye- J.D. Salinger (1951)
Frequently challenged and removed from required reading lists in schools due to language, sexual content, and the main character’s “negative activity.”
The Color Purple- Alice Walker (1982)
Banned, rejected by publishers, and removed from required reading lists for language, sexual content, and its ideas about human sexuality and man’s relationship to God.
The Diary of Anne Frank- Anne Frank (1947)
Banned in Lebanon for portraying Jews favorably.
The Grapes of Wrath- John Steinbeck (1939)
Banned and burned in several states for its sexual content and language, specifically the use of God and Jesus’ name in vain.
The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
Fequently challenged for its language and sexual references.
Harry Potter- J.K.Rowling (1997-2007)
Banned and challenged for its anti-religious content, including its promotion of witchcraft.
Invisible Man- Ralph Ellison (1952)
Challenged and removed from required reading lists due to profanity, violence, and sexuality.
The Jungle- Upton Sinclair (1906)
Banned in several countries for its socialist views and burned in Nazi fires in 1933.
To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee (1960)
Banned for language, sexual content, racism, and use of the word “nigger.”
Lord of the Flies- William Golding (1954)
Banned for language, violence, demoralizing behavior, and use of the word “nigger.”
Lord of the Rings- J.R.R. Tolkien (1937-1949)
Banned and burned in several states and communities for its anti-religious and “satanic” content.
Of Mice and Men- John Steinbeck (1937)
Banned in several states and countries for profanity, sexual content, racist comments, and use of God’s name in vain.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin- Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)
Banned in the Southern states during the Civil War due to its anti-slavery content. Also banned in Russia in 1852 due to its ideas of equality and its undermining religious ideals.
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. -Voltaire
I have not read this book yet but I’m extremely interested in it. What do you think? Anyone want to read it with me??
Summary: In June 2001, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto went to Hiroshima in search of a deeper understanding of her war-torn heritage. She planned to spend six months there, interviewing the few remaining survivors of the atomic bomb. A mother of two young boys, she was encouraged to go by her husband, who quickly became disenchanted by her absence.
It is her first solo life adventure, immediately exhilarating for her, but her research starts off badly. Interviews with the hibakusha feel rehearsed, and the survivors reveal little beyond published accounts. Then the attacks on September 11 change everything. The survivors’ carefully constructed memories are shattered, causing them to relive their agonizing experiences and to open up to Rizzuto in astonishing ways.
Separated from family and country while the world seems to fall apart, Rizzuto’s marriage begins to crumble as she wrestles with her ambivalence about being a wife and mother. Woven into the story of her own awakening are the stories of Hiroshima in the survivors’ own words. The parallel narratives explore the role of memory in our lives, and show how memory is not history but a story we tell ourselves to explain who we are. — Feminist Press
Short and Sweet Synopsis:
This entire novel takes place in one day and follows the lives of three women: Virginia Woolf (1920′s), Clarissa Vaughn (late 20th Century), and Laura Brown (1940′s). Virginia Woolf (the only non-fictional character) is focused on writing her novel Mrs. Dalloway while she tries to shut out her husband and house servants that treat her like she is insane. Clarissa Vaughn is an editor living in New York that is throwing a party for her friend that is dying of AIDS. Laura Brown is a wife and mother, helping her son make a birthday cake for her husband, and resenting her picture-perfect life. This story follows these women through one day in their lives, eventually revealing how all three are connected.
The stories and events were not exactly captivating, but I sort of felt like that was the point. I think the beatuy is in the simplicity. Considering this story only let me see one day of their lives, I was surprised at how much depth there really was. I was also surprised that a male author could so accurately and uniquely depict the innermost thoughts and feelings of a woman- let alone, three women. Although I don’t consider this a great read, I did love this book for its original discussion of gender roles. It was also the first book I read that included so many unorthodox subjects like suicide, homosexuality, and women that didn’t follow “the rules” that dictate what a woman is- gasp!
B I read this my freshman year of college, when my reading bank hadn’t much exceeded young adult fiction. I remember feeling slightly uncomfortable as I read it, which I think is always a good way to stretch your mind! I would recommend this to all women.
What do you think? I found a discussion question in my version of the novel that I find really interesting- you can answer that or simply share your own opinion. Either way, I’d love to hear it!
Virginia and Laura are both, in a sense, prisoners of their eras and societies, and both long for freedom from this imprisonment. Clarissa Vaughan, on the other hand, apparently enjoys every liberty: freedom to be a lesbian, to come and go and live as she likes. Yet she has ended up, in spite of her unusual way of life, as a fairly conventional wife and mother. What might this fact indicate about the nature of society and the restrictions it imposes? Does the author imply that character, to a certain extent, is destiny?
Short and Sweet Synopsis:
“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” This is the beginning of Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt’s memoir of his childhood growing up in Limerick, Ireland. It is a retelling of the trials that his family faced including, poverty, drunkenness, death, and his own struggles with the Catholic church.
My love for this book and this author cannot properly be expressed with the words that exist today. Simply put, Frank McCourt has a gift for telling a story. I love his honesty and humor as he recounts horrible things that happened to his family. This book is written as if Frank McCourt was sitting at your kitchen table, telling you the story first-hand. He involves you in the story by talking to you as though you’re an old buddy- often omitting punctuation as a way of achieving this conversational style of writing. This is the first of three memoirs (followed by Tis, and Teacher Man) and after I read each one, I passed them along to my mom. We were never in short supply of things to talk and laugh about together.
A++++++ Read this book. I’m serious.
Did you love it as much as I did?