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Mark Twain
Florida, Missouri, 30 Nov. 1835 - Hartford, Connecticut, 21 April 1910 • American novelist, philosopher, and short story writer

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Samuel Langhorne Clemens, for nearly half a century known and celebrated as "Mark Twain," was born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835. He was one of the foremost American philosophers of his day; he was the world's most famous humorist of any day. During the later years of his life he ranked not only as America's chief man of letters, but likewise as her best known and best loved citizen.

The beginnings of that life were sufficiently unpromising. The family was a good one, of old Virginia and Kentucky stock, but its circumstances were reduced, its environment meager and disheartening. The father, John Marshall Clemens – a lawyer by profession, a merchant by vocation – had brought his household to Florida from Jamestown, Tennessee, somewhat after the manner of judge Hawkins as pictured in The Gilded Age. Florida was a small town then, a mere village of twenty-one houses located on Salt River, but judge Clemens, as he was usually called, optimistic and speculative in his temperament, believed in its future. Salt River would be made navigable; Florida would become a metropolis. He established a small business there, and located his family in the humble frame cottage where, five months later, was born a baby boy to whom they gave the name of Samuel – a family name – and added Langhorne, after an old Virginia friend of his father.

The child was puny, and did not make a very sturdy fight for life. Still he weathered along, season after season, and survived two stronger children, Margaret and Benjamin. By 1839 Judge Clemens had lost faith in Florida. He removed his family to Hannibal, and in this Mississippi River town the little
lad whom the world was to know as Mark Twain spent his early life. In Tom Sawyer we have a picture of the Hannibal of those days and the atmosphere of his boyhood there.

His schooling was brief and of a desultory kind. It ended one day in 1847, when his father died and it became necessary that each one should help somewhat in the domestic crisis. His brother Orion, ten years his senior, was already a printer by trade. Pamela, his sister; also considerably older, had acquired music, and now took a few pupils. The little boy Sam, at twelve, was apprenticed to a printer named Ament. His wages consisted of his board and clothes – "more board than clothes," as he once remarked to the writer.

He remained with Ament until his brother Orion bought out a small paper in Hannibal in 1850. The paper, in time, was moved into a part of the Clemens home, and the two brothers ran it, the younger setting most of the type. A still younger brother, Henry, entered the office as an apprentice. The Hannibal journal was no great paper from the beginning, and it did not improve with time. Still, it managed to survive –country papers nearly always manage to survive – year after year, bringing in some sort of return. It was on this paper that young Sam Clemens began his writings – burlesque, as a rule, of local characters and conditions – usually published in his brother's absence; generally resulting in trouble on his return. Yet they made the paper sell, and if Orion had but realized his brother's talent he might have turned it into capital even then. (read on... )

Lyrical Ballads
William Wordsworth / Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1798

Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, 1605 / 1615

Gulliver's Travels
Jonathan Swift, 1726

The Complete Works of Artemus Ward
Artemus Ward, 2005 (reprint)

The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane
Alain-René Lesage, 1715-1735

The Adventures of Roderick Random
Tobias Smollett, 1748


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The story of Huck and his companion Jim, a runaway slave, as they travel down the Mississippi to escape from slavery and 'sivilization'.

A Confederacy of Dunces
John Kennedy Toole, 1980

A Man in Full
Tom Wolfe, 1998

Tourist Season
Carl Hiaasen, 1986

Tom Jones
Henry Fielding, 1749

The Adventures of Augie March
Saul Bellow, 1953

I, Jan Cremer
Jan Cremer, 1964

Tartarin of Tarascon
Alphonse Daudet, 1862

The Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger, 1951

The Color Purple
Alice Walker, 1982

Sozaboy: a novel in rotten English
Ken Saro-Wiwa, 1985

The Butcher Boy
Patrick McCabe, 1992

[Het schnitzelparadijs]
Khalid Boudou, 2001

The Innocents Abroad

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The tale of a boy's life in a small town on the banks of the Mississippi River. Tom skips school and with his friends, Huck Finn and Jim, spends his days on mad adventures - some real, some imagined.
The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson

The Prince and the Pauper
Tom Canty and Edward Tudor could have been identical twins. Their birthdays and their faces match, but there the likeness stops. For Edward is prince, heir to King Henry VIII of England, whilst Tom is a miserable pauper. But fate intervenes, and their identities become confused. Soon the prince is thrown out of the palace in rags, leaving ignorant Tom to play the part of a royal prince.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Black satire about a time traveler in the British Middle Ages.
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