Questions tagged [mark-twain]

For questions about the US author Mark Twain (real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens; 1835 – 1910) or about any of his works, which include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

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How does soap undermine the church in "A Connecticut Yankee"?

In Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, in the chapter "Morgan Le Fay", the main character explains that he makes the knights have signs for "Persimmon's Soap" ...
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0 votes
0 answers
84 views

Did O. Henry allude to Tom Sawyer in "The Gift of the Magi"?

Sidney Porter (O. Henry) was a contemporary of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). They died the same year; Porter attended Clemens' funeral a few months before his own death. Was Porter referring to Twain's ...
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4 votes
1 answer
732 views

Did Mark Twain say the two most important days of our life are the day we're born and the day we find out why?

This quote has been variously attributed to Mark Twain (for example, here and here and here and here, with varying amounts of surrounding discussion). The two most important days in your life are the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
130 views

Antagonist in Jim Baker's Blue Jay Yarn

Who or what is the antagonist in Baker's Blue Jay Yarn (What Stumped the Blue jays)?
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2 votes
2 answers
99 views

Why do we say “write any quote and sign by Mark Twain’s name and no one would object”?

Once I was writing a “Preface” for my friend’s college assignment book, I wanted to make it attractive so I thought of some quote related to prefaces of books. I consulted on an online forum and ...
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13 votes
3 answers
3k views

Why couldn't Mr Dobbins become a doctor in "Tom Sawyer"?

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, it's mentioned that the schoolteacher had an anatomy book in his desk due to wanting to be a doctor at one point. The master, Mr. Dobbins, had reached ...
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2 votes
1 answer
789 views

Was Mark Twain a racist?

The question had come to my mind after reading Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; I knew he more often had put Indians as his story villains, but I wasn't paying attention to it till I read that ...
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3 votes
0 answers
44 views

Why was the title of Mark Twain's jumping frog short story changed so much?

I just learned from another question about a short story by Mark Twain entitled "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", which, when I looked it up online to find a copy-pastable ...
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Is the phrase "lurking suspicion" in this context humour?

I am reading the short story "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Mark Twain. I was wondering if the author's usage of the phrase "lurking suspicion" in the first ...
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6 votes
1 answer
123 views

Never the Twain shall meet – conflicting accounts of sewing practices

In Chapter Thirteen of The Prince and the Pauper we have the following observation about sewing practices: He did as men have always done, and probably always will do, to the end of time – held the ...
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7 votes
1 answer
318 views

What does Mark Twain mean by "keep hotel"?

The protagonist in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court uses this phrase: But that should be nothing to his discredit; the man that can do THIS kind of miracle knows enough to keep hotel. ...
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3 votes
1 answer
63 views

What did Twain mean by the "Creedmoor aim"?

In a letter to his friend William Dean Howells recounting the heroic exploits of John T. Lewis, Mark Twain wrote the following in 1877: Lewis, the prodigious … saw the frantic horse plunging down ...
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3 votes
0 answers
31 views

Did Sandburg acknowledge Twain's influence?

In 1886, Mark Twain wrote an essay entitled "The New Dynasty" Its theme, and much of its language, are quite similar to Carl Sandburg's poem "I Am the People, the Mob" of half a century later. It is ...
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6 votes
1 answer
321 views

How is it 1100 miles from Hannibal to southern Arkansas in Huck Finn?

In Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it says: Well, Aunt Polly she said that when Aunt Sally wrote to her that Tom and SID had come all right and safe, she says to herself: "Look at ...
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13 votes
1 answer
421 views

Why does Tom Sawyer forget what "ransom" means?

In Chapter XXXIII of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom explains "ransom" to Huck. But in Chapter II of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom has no idea what ransoming is. Is this just Twain ...
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8 votes
4 answers
3k views

What does Pudd'nhead Wilson's joke about half a dog mean?

In Pudd'nhead Wilson, by Mark Twain, the character David Wilson makes a remark that results in the townspeople writing him off as a "pudd'nhead". He had just made the acquaintance of a group of ...
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5 votes
0 answers
88 views

Is "The American Claimant" a veiled take on "The Indian Question"?

Mark Twain's 1892 novel The American Claimant was written very soon after the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890), which was basically revenge for the 1876 Battle of Greasy Grass ("Little Big Horn"). This ...
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14 votes
1 answer
1k views

Understanding a reference to Tom Sawyer in the context of avoiding work

I am Brazilian, I frequent the Mathematica Stack Exchange, and I've never heard of Tom Sawyer. So it was confusing when I read a meta post that described people as "Tom Sawyers". "There are a few ...
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11 votes
1 answer
221 views

What does "vamos the ranch" mean in this Mark Twain short story?

What does this sentence from "Double Barrelled Detective Story" by Mark Twain mean? "If I was running this shop I'd make him say something, some time or other, or vamos the ranch."...
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15 votes
2 answers
1k views

What does "halter" mean here?

The following sentence occurs in Mark Twain's sketch Private History of a Campaign that Failed: The drenching we were getting was misery enough, but a deeper misery still was the reflection that ...
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12 votes
1 answer
155 views

What do "Sedgemoor trade-mark" and "white-sleeve badge" mean?

Can somebody please explain this expression from a Mark Twain story, A Double Barrelled Detective Story: 'Sedgemoor trade-mark, white sleeve badge'? Here is the context: Among other things he said ...
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6 votes
3 answers
966 views

Was Twain the first author to write of Zombies?

Although the word is not used, Twain's zany novel of title-frenzy and mad-scientist capitalistic schemes The American Claimant (sequel to The Gilded Age) describes the intent by the megalomaniac ...
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9 votes
1 answer
184 views

Did Twain mean the coin should be enlarged or not?

In Twain's quote about government's ostensibly trusting in God and asserting that on their currency, I have seen it reproduced both this way: But I think it would better read, "Within certain ...
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15 votes
1 answer
605 views

Was Théoden's revival inspired by Mark Twain?

I was reading Mark Twain's Joan of Arc and Joan converses with the Dauphin of France. The talk between Joan and the King was long and earnest [...] and has been set down in [...] testimony at the ...
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15 votes
2 answers
2k views

Is this the longest sentence by Twain?

I noticed this sentence in chapter 4 of The Gilded Age with numerous commas, semi-colons, colons, and dashes prolonging a sentence of prodigious length: Sometimes the boat fought the mid-stream ...
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32 votes
1 answer
4k views

What does Mark Twain mean by "cheers and a tiger"?

I know about the big stripey cat, but what is "a tiger" in this context: ...finishing up with cheers and a tiger for "Hadleyburg purity and our eighteen immortal representatives of it.&...
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10 votes
2 answers
526 views

Was Mark Twain actually almost a millionaire twice over, before he became famous?

The prequel to Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad was Roughing It: Roughing It illustrates many of Twain's early adventures, including a visit to Salt Lake City, gold and silver prospecting, real-estate ...
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22 votes
1 answer
613 views

Did later literary analysis agree with Mark Twain's criticism of J.F. Cooper?

This excellent answer by @CHEESE linked to a Mark Twain's "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses". SPOILER ALERT: That essay is extremely critical of Cooper's work. Did later literary analysis largely ...
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24 votes
1 answer
1k views

What specific criticisms did Mark Twain make against Jane Austen's books?

It's pretty well known that Mark Twain was rather vitriolic against Jane Austen, saying things like: I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane ...
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