Mark Twain: The True Story of Mark Twain (Historical Biographies of Famous People)
G.K. Chesterton once wrote “Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity,” and that quote remains true today. The world would be a much different place without the great works produced by the likes of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Milton, nor would it be the same without more contemporary writers... show more
G.K. Chesterton once wrote “Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity,” and that quote remains true today. The world would be a much different place without the great works produced by the likes of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Milton, nor would it be the same without more contemporary writers like Tolkien, Lewis, or even Stephen King. People like stories, and without them, generations of scientific and philosophical advancement would not have been possible. But it was not until the rise of novel, helped by the spread of the electric light, that people truly fell in love with books.
No single writer is solely responsible for it, but one particular name rests near the top of the list of pioneering novelists: Mark Twain. His books provided entertainment and education for generations, and without his contributions, many other writers may have never put pen to paper in the first place.
Though his place in history and literature is clear, the actual details of his life are occasionally cloudy. The extraordinary fiction writer often applied his fantastic storytelling abilities to recollections of his past. Nor is this a secret; he openly admitted that he embellished well, and embellished often. Half of the time he related a memory, he did so with a wink and a nod, implying that some of what he said should be taken with a few grains of salt. Even his own autobiography, published a century after his death, contains contradictions.
Separating fact from fiction where Mark Twain is concerned is difficult, but is a worthy pursuit. The truth of his life is every bit as interesting and fantastic as his own stories. Equal parts academic and adventurer, a kindred spirit to men like Ernest Hemmingway, Twain suffered through poverty and basked in riches, enjoyed fame and endured ridicule, and lived as a raucous bachelor and tamed family man.
What follows is an account of Mark Twain’s life, as near to the truth as is possible to ascertain.
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