Mark Twain

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Mark Twain

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1kaelirenee
Editado: Dic 14, 2007, 12:51pm

OK, I'll admit it, I've tried to stick with Mark Twain. I read Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in highschool, as we are all required to do. I don't know if it was taught poorly or what, but it made me dispise Twain. Don't get me wrong, I'll defend to the end teachers wanting to teach it in classes even though he uses the n-word (this was recently a big hubub here in DFW). But both stories just seemed boring to me. It seemed that teachers picked to books because boys don't like to read and these are both boy stories. They meant absolutly nothing to me.

Except-I think the man is hillarious. His spot-on quotes are wonderful. I quote him all the time, so I really want to like him. But, I really don't want to go back to the boys stories. So please, someone explain or recommend some GOOD Twain to me.

Edited after coffee to correct some awful sentences and to clarify some points.

2readafew
Dic 14, 2007, 9:58am

I didn't read Tom Sawyer in school, but sometime after College, and found it hilarious. However, another title I've read and enjoyed is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's court. The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calveras County and Other Stories are a few fun short stories. The hard part is getting past the colloquialisms Twain writes with.

I've heard Letters from the earth is supposed to be good and it's on my TBR pile. I know I've read others but they're not coming to me write now.

3Morphidae
Dic 14, 2007, 10:13am

I was going to do a thread for Huckleberry Finn myself. I forced myself through half the book and finally had to give up. Huck was a brat and Jim was an idiot. I disliked both the characters and found the "plot" boring as hell - go down the river, something happens, go down the river, something happens, go down the river, something happens, blah, blah, blah.

I also like his quotes but can't understand the appeal of his novels if they are anything like Huck.

4reading_fox
Dic 14, 2007, 10:15am

Ditto #3.
It's supposed to be satire of the times, but I think it only works if you lived in or around the times. Tom's okay. ish. But nothing I've read has impressed me.

5weener
Dic 16, 2007, 4:38pm

Try reading The War Prayer. It's very short and it has pictures which are very good, and a very modern and thought-provoking premise.

6krolik
Dic 16, 2007, 5:14pm

This is interesting but a little puzzling, frankly, about liking the quotes but not the books.

Of course a reader is under no obligation to like Twain, no matter what teachers say. (I also suspect Twain would agree. He wasn't too sentimental about teachers.)

I'd also venture that if you still refer to the "n-word" instead of nigger, maybe timidity is getting in the way. It's not a matter of the word, but of what people do with the word.

I think Twain is great. (Not very original of me, I suppose.) Huckleberry Finn is a more adult book than Tom Sawyer, sure. But if Twain doesn't work for you, fine--but maybe he's still been constructive by inviting you to consider what does work for you. What are you hungry for?

7kaelirenee
Dic 17, 2007, 11:45am

Actually, wanting to like Twain is more because of my mother than because of any teacher-I'm too finished with highschool to care what they think about my reading habits. As for not using the "n-word"-I don't care for the word and I know it's a charged word, so I don't use it. He used it to make a point.

I'll check out War Prayer and see how I like it.

8Sandydog1
Feb 22, 2008, 4:54pm

Twain? He is totally off the hook. I've forgotten the titles, but the stories of Adam and Eve, or Joan of Arc, or the Good Boy & the Bad Boy are LOL funny. I was surprised to see his name on this thread. I guess maybe Tom Sawyer was kind of lame, and I only enjoyed portions of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Life on the Mississippi. But his short stories are outrageous and very entertaining.

9HelloAnnie
Feb 22, 2008, 4:58pm

I like Twain, but for those that don't, maybe try his short stories. They seem to be his best medium. I also grew up outside St. Louis, so it was literature close to home.

10Thresher
Oct 12, 2010, 11:07pm

I agree the Adam and Eve one is laugh-out-loud funny.

"The Mysterious Stranger" will mess with your head.

11Sandydog1
Nov 20, 2010, 9:13am

The Mysterious Stranger is indeed a dark, weird, bitter story. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court also had some of that in its violent end.

I recently picked up Letters from the Earth. I expect more of the same, in that one.

12Sandydog1
Nov 20, 2010, 9:13am

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

13SpongeBobFishpants
Ene 22, 2011, 5:06pm

Well, I think I'll try to resurrect this thread since I was looking for a discussion like this. I too read Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer when I was younger and didn't care for either one. Then I picked up a copy of Innocents Abroad and fell over laughing at his portrayal of himself and others. After perusing a few of his nonfiction works, A tramp Abroad and Roughing It among others I decided that I adore his nonfiction works. The recent release of his unexpurgated autobiography led me to reading Ron Power's biography and THAT (I haven't gotten to the autobiography yet) has led me to pick up copies of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn again to see if I can recognize the same humor and unflinching look at human behavior that I may have missed the first time.

14mamzel
Feb 23, 2011, 4:44pm

>6 krolik: This is interesting but a little puzzling, frankly, about liking the quotes but not the books.


I think this phenomenom is very much like seeing the trailers of movies or TV series and thinking it looks like you'll really enjoy it but then when you see the whole thing you realize that the clips were the only good parts.

15Sandydog1
Editado: Jul 10, 2014, 10:51pm

Twain is one of those authors who is 50% spot-on brilliant, 50% apathy and filler, and 50% dull observations. (Note, I do not do math in public.)

Now that I think of it, I can't think of a Twain title that doesn't have a chapter or two of complete garbage. The ending of that Great American classic (when Tom Sawyer shows up), Huckleberry Finn, is truly horrible.

But try also, his travelogues. It is well-worth picking the wheat from the chaff.

>5 weener: I try to read The War Prayer at least once every year. It is intelligent and very moving.

16Sandydog1
Jul 10, 2014, 10:59pm

>13 SpongeBobFishpants:

My favorite member of the Coelenterata,

A Tramp Abroad is a classic example of what I said in my previous post. There's a lot of fluff but the early essays about the Blue Jay, and the dueling French, will make anyone pee their pants laughing.

I'm still reading Letters from Earth from Sam's darker years....

17Diane-bpcb
Jul 23, 2014, 6:16pm

Whether the story in Twain's writing is interesting today or not, he was quite the wordsmith.

In his 1895 essay, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses," Twain wrote: "When a person has a poor ear for music he will flat and sharp right along without knowing it. He keeps near the tune, but it is NOT the tune. When a person has a poor ear for words, the result is a literary flatting and sharping; you perceive what he is intending to say, but you also perceive that he doesn't SAY it."

Needless to say, Twain's writing was the opposite of Cooper's. Twain's "ear" even allowed him to write in "seven separate dialects" for different characters in Huckleberry Finn*.

I prefer Twain's non-fiction, but find anything he writes a pleasure to read, even if in short paragraphs.

*Bill Bryson, The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

18Sandydog1
Jul 27, 2014, 7:36pm

Oh, and don't forget the short story about the good little boy.

And all those essays about Adam and Eve.

And don't forget the War Prayer.

I've come to the realization that Mark Twain is my favorite author.

19Sandydog1
Jul 29, 2014, 9:05pm

I'm currently watching Mark Twain on PBS

http://www.pbs.org/marktwain/

(and peeing my pants...)

20Cecrow
Ago 5, 2014, 8:50am

>18 Sandydog1:, an understandable choice, to be sure. I read A Tramp Abroad last year and found it hit and miss, but I do love his humour.