Literary Analysis Paper- Mark Twain

I believe Mark Twain’s work is worthy to be considered American literature reasons being as follows: The definition of literature according to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary is writings in prose or verse; especially writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest. [3] In my opinion his works DO express permanent or universal interest. According to many credible sources Mark Twain is considered an author of American Literature.

I have read many sources that say Mark Twain is an American novelist who writes in the genre of humorists. Many sources also say that the vast majority of Twain’s works are considered to be literature. His most famous literary works are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in a King Arthur’s Court, and lastly The Prince and the Pauper. Mark Twain has written many timeless wonderful classic pieces of literature that will remain in history for years to come.

First and foremost, the definition of literature is again as follows: writings in prose or verse; especially writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest. Twain has always been called on having controversial works that have sparked nationwide interest. I can also say from reading his works that his books display excellence in form and expression… so much so that they are very difficult to understand at first; so obviously they are excellent in literary form.

Secondly, His writings did and currently do spark national interest about slavery, his usage of words, and also the way his dialogue between characters and the plots in his stories. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn there is quite a bit of the “N word” seen and used throughout the book just like in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as well. [1] This landed tons of controversy about whether Twain’s books should be allowed in school or not and in fact in some school districts Twain’s novels are not allowed to be part of the curriculum because of the usage of the “word”. Broken family life, racial discrimination, and social injustice,” is what the book describes according to Online Literature on Mark Twain. [2] “Tom Sawyer presents Twain’s first major use of memories of his childhood. Twain modeled St. Petersburg — the home of an imaginative boy named Tom Sawyer, his friend Huck Finn, and the evil Injun Joe — after his hometown of Hannibal”[6] Mark Twain’s works are those that describe one’s personal life in book form that is indirect… So certainly his works have been able to catch national interest for some bad reasons and for some good, like his own childhood.

Also Twain tends to write entirely in southern dialect which really makes him stand out… no author nowadays writes entirely in southern dialect because it tends to be very hard to understand. [1] This has also gained him some acknowledgment in the literary world. According to Online Literature, the vast majority of Twain’s works are considered to be American 19th century literature. Such as A Connecticut Yankee in a King Arthur’s Court, and the Prince and the Pauper. As many as 30 of Twain’s stories are considered to be dubbed as American literature.

With the Prince and the Pauper and A Connecticut Yankee in a King Arthur’s Court, they are his most widely known historical fiction novels; praise for both books is off the charts. A critic of the Prince and the Pauper said “Not satiric and comic like his earlier books, Prince and Pauper was Twain’s stab at respectability; a book to get him accepted by the genteel Hartford society that he was living among,” [5] which shows that he was writing for the historical feel of the times which is why it is considered historical fiction.

Then in A Connecticut Yankee in a King Arthur’s Court I read in a presentation that his book’s theme is entirely set back in the Renaissance time era and is written in a Shakespearean sort of way. A critic says this about the book,” Considered a pioneering science fiction novel, primarily for the exploration of how 19th-century technology would have affected King Arthur’s England. ”[5] I happened to read this quote that does seem to ring true in the case of most American classic lit books, “‘Classic. ‘ A book which people praise and don’t read. ” [5] And with Twain’s novels it seems the exact opposite.

After I read this I thought about my own readings of Mark Twain… his books are something you want to read again and again. That is what the definition of literature should be… American literature- a book written by and American author that is a timeless classic you want to read again and again. Because then many books that should be considered literature would be literature. Twain could also on the other hand be not considered and American Literature novelist… in many cases I have seen him described as “an American novelist who writes in the genre of humorists. Even on Twain’s official website he is described in such a way to make you think that many people don’t consider his works to be true American literature. So the question is… Is Mark Twain even classified as an American literature novelist? And in most cases yes he is. “One of the most widely loved and celebrated American writers transcended ordinary fame and become an icon of American culture and humor the world over. ” [5] So really is there any argument as to why Mark Twain’s works shouldn’t be honored as American Literature?

The majority of his stories fit the definition of literature as does his style of writing. And Twain is said to be literature by many credible sources. His 43 books all have some element of literature to them. The 4 books I mentioned first and foremost of them all. Without Mark Twain’s books I don’t think that American lit from the 19th century would be quite the same… For certain the standards on what is and what isn’t literature for that time period would be very different. Twain is truly one of America’s best humorists and American literature novelists!

MLA Works Cited: Erber L, Destefano J, and McKie R. “Mark Twain author project. ” Sarasota: Microsoft Powerpoint 2008, 11 10 2010. [1] Inc. , C. D. Merriman for Jalic. Mark Twain- Online Literature. 11 10 2010 . [2] Merriam-Webster. Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary. 11 10 2010 . [3] Paynter, Capt. The Eagle’s Nest. 11 10 2010 . [4] (This is the source I got all the websites I used from) Waisman, Michael. About Mark Twain. 11 10 2010 . [5] WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA- Contributor: Alan Gribben, Ph. D. PBS- Mark Twain. 11 10 2010 . [6]

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