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Samuel Langhorne Clemens was a popular American writer. To the world, he was known by his pen name Mark Twain. He was well-known for his comedic stories, novels, and other writings. It is worth noting that he was a staunch supporter of human principles such as liberty, equality, and fraternity. He opposed wars and imperialism, and he fought for the rights of workers and African-Americans in his own country, America.
The chapter sites some of his anecdotes from his life and some quotations from his speeches and writings.
The first anecdote narrates a funny interaction between Mark Twain and a barber. Once during a lecture tour, Mark Twain went to a local barber shop for a shave. The barber failed to recognise Mark Twain and supposed him to be a commoner. Having thought he was a regular tourist, the barber told him that he would have to stand and watch Mark Twain’s lecture as all the tickets were sold out. Mark Twain then humorously referred to himself as “that fellow” and said that he always had to stand when ‘that fellow’ lectured.
The next was an incident where his mother disapproves of his appearance for lacking a collar and tie, as he had left in a hurry to say goodbye to his neighbour. So, he packs the items and sends them in a package to his neighbour with a note saying that the rest of himself that is packed in the package also wishes her goodbye.
Once when Henry Irving was sharing a funny story with Mark Twain, he kept on asking Twain if he had already heard of the story. After saying that he had not heard it, thrice, Mark replied that he had not only heard it but invented it! One last anecdote narrates Mark’s witty and amusing reply to a reader’s question regarding luck.
Mark Twain had once proposed a plan to ‘Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling’. He wanted to replace the alphabet c with k or s and annul the alphabet x. In the following years, he intended to use the same consonant for w and o, replace y with i. In the fourth year, he would fix the g and j spellings and so on and so forth. Finally, twenty years later, he envisioned a new form of the English language.
The chapter shares some famous and sagacious quotes by Mark Twain.
- A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.
- It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.
- A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.
- Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered – either by themselves or by others.
- When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old.
Mark Twain was an admirable author and activist. He taught how to handle life with a pinch of humour. All scenarios need not be handled with strength, some need satire. His quotes hold deeper meanings and give life lessons.