Mark Twain – The father of American Literature
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), best known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He was praised as the “greatest humorist the United States has produced”, and William Faulkner called him “the father of American literature”. His novels include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), the latter of which has often been called the “Great American Novel“.
Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He served an apprenticeship with a printer and then worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. His humorous story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County was published in 1865, based on a story that he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California, where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention and was even translated into French. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. Although initially an ardent American imperialist who spoke out strongly in favor of American interests in the Hawaiian Islands, he later became vice president of the American Anti-Imperialist League from 1901 until his death in 1910, coming out strongly against the Philippine-American War.
Twain earned a great deal of money from his writing and lectures, but invested in ventures that lost most of it, such as the Paige Compositor: a mechanical typesetter that failed because of its complexity and imprecision. He filed for bankruptcy in the wake of these financial setbacks, but in time overcame his financial troubles with the help of Standard Oil executive Henry Huttleston Rogers. He eventually paid all his creditors in full, even though his declaration of bankruptcy meant he was not required to do so.
Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with it” as well, dying a day after the comet was at its closest to Earth.
pen name: nome d’arte;
praised: voce del verbo “to praise”: lodare;
William Faulkner: famoso scrittore americano
latter: (a secondo del contesto) l’ultimo, il secondo, quello dopo;
was raised: voce passiva del verbo “to raise”: crescere
setting: la sceneggiatura, il paesaggio, lo sfondo
apprenticeship: apprendistato, stage;
riverboat: vascello fluviale a vapore;
heading: voce del verbo “to head”: dirigersi;
referred: (in questo contesto) parlò di….; voce del verbo “to refer”: riferirsi a qualcosa;
wit: spirito, arguzia;
earned: voce del verbo “to earn”: guadagnare, ricavare;
peers: pari, persone dello stesso livello sociale;
spoke out: voce del verbo frasale “to speak out”: pronunciarsi, parlare apertamente;
strongly: fermamente, caldamente;
coming out: voce del verbo frasale “to come out”: (in questo contesto) uscirsene, affermare;
filed for bankruptcy: dichiarare bancarotta;
setbacks: contrattempo, situazione difficile da risolvere;
overcame: sorpassare, affrontare con successo;
go out: (in questo contesto) modo di dire: morire, passare a miglior vita.
Mark Twain – Father of American Literature