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Miscellaneous

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popular

Why was M. Twain so popular during his life time? What factors contributed to it?
Any ideas?

z.
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audience

I am reading the LOA edition and according to that Clemens stated after he begun to write HF: I have started another boy's book.

Was his intention to write for children? What audience was the book aimed for first place?
T.Sawyer book didn't become any immediate market success, the sales went up after Twain's death.

ziki
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pen name

Why did Clemens need a pen name?

And why is he is still refered to as Clemens and sometimes as Twain? Is that related to the point in time when he decided on his final pen name?

I'd be also curious to hear Jon's view on the writer's need for pen names.

ziki
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fanuzzir
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Re: pen name

Lots and lots of great questions. Some answers.
1. Popularity. Twain was a regionalist fiction writer and reporter, specializing in the San Franscisco Gold Rush explosion and then writing tall tales of the old south. People liked to hear about these wild frontiers or old bygone settings, especially if it was done with a dialect and authenticity. He had a clear comic approach to race issues as well, which fit in well with the post-Reconstruction hangover mentality of 1880s America.
2. Name. So closely affiliated with the South was Twain that he took his name from the warning a riverboat captain gives of an obstruction ahead: "Mark twain!" He spent the rest of his life publicizing this southern persona complete with name, string tie, and white suit, even though he had mastered the skills of modern marketing and retired to Hartford Connecticut, hardly the locale for a southern writer.

Keep em coming . . .
jd
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jd
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Re: pen name

I felt that TS was mildly comic but I found no humor in HF, am I alone here?? The dialog is actually pretty factual if you have been in the low lands. Hello - is anybody home????
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Re: pen name

I read about the mark twain origin somewhere yesterday &that was fun, I didn't know that.
I wondered why he had a need for a pen name at all, what benefit that gave him.
:-)
ziki
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Re: audience

I wonder if it could be like with Harry Potter in our days, a book that can be read both by kids and adults.
z.
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fanuzzir
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Comedy of TS vs. HF (spoiler alert)



jd wrote:
I felt that TS was mildly comic but I found no humor in HF, am I alone here?? The dialog is actually pretty factual if you have been in the low lands. Hello - is anybody home????




That's an important insight to make: TS is lighthearted and comic, but Huck Finn is a much more serious novel, where the dialect is not told to make fun of people or to put people at arm's length but to bring the reader into a maelstrom of alien, repellent, and conflicting thoughts. (Such as when Huck has to struggle with his conscience when he decides to befriend the runaway slave Jim).

But Huck really is a comic novel in a structural sense, if you consider the model of Shakespeare's comedies: false sense of order; chaos and interchanged identities; followed by the restoration of order. So you don't laugh as much here, and if you do you catch yourself because you are most likely sharing in Huck's cruel sense of humor with regards to his friend Jim.
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JesseBC
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Re: Comedy of TS vs. HF (spoiler alert)

Oh, Fan, I miss you!

I guess you'll never see this reply, but since there are others still on the board (I think) and this came up recently on another thread, I guess I'll throw it out there.

I laughed often reading Huck Finn. And I don't think it's because I share Huck's cruel sense of humor, which I often found more ironic than cruel. (As I expected, I also thought Jim could be as demeaning towards Huck as Huck was towards him at the beginning of the story and I saw Jim's final revelation to Huck as evidence that Jim too had changed and grown and come to recognize the role of responsibility he really had with Huck all along. Jim, like Huck, was a better person at the end of the story than he was at the opening.)

But I laughed at a lot of things -- Huck's literalness, Jim's superstition, Tom's romanticism, the duke and king's buffoonness antics, the blind foolishness of so many of the characters, the irony that some of the stupidest things the characters did was evidence of their "sivilization," etc.

The satire is biting, but that's different from cruelty and it's often very funny.




fanuzzir wrote:


jd wrote:
I felt that TS was mildly comic but I found no humor in HF, am I alone here?? The dialog is actually pretty factual if you have been in the low lands. Hello - is anybody home????




That's an important insight to make: TS is lighthearted and comic, but Huck Finn is a much more serious novel, where the dialect is not told to make fun of people or to put people at arm's length but to bring the reader into a maelstrom of alien, repellent, and conflicting thoughts. (Such as when Huck has to struggle with his conscience when he decides to befriend the runaway slave Jim).

But Huck really is a comic novel in a structural sense, if you consider the model of Shakespeare's comedies: false sense of order; chaos and interchanged identities; followed by the restoration of order. So you don't laugh as much here, and if you do you catch yourself because you are most likely sharing in Huck's cruel sense of humor with regards to his friend Jim.


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