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Introduction

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910),[1] better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which provided the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. After an apprenticeship with a printer, he worked as a typesetter and contributed 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.

In 1865, his humorous story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," was published, based on a story 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 classic Greek.

 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.

Though Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he invested in ventures that lost a great deal of money, notably the Paige Compositor, which failed because of its complexity and imprecision. In the wake of these financial setbacks, he filed for protection from his creditors via bankruptcy, and with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, though he had no legal responsibility to do so.

Twain was born shortly after a visit by Halley's Comet, and he predicted that he would "go out with it," too. He died the day following the comet's subsequent return.

He was lauded as the "greatest American humorist" and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature."
 

Memorable quotes

  1. A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes. - Mark Twain's Notebook
  2. Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.
  3. It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.
  4. We have the best government that money can buy.
  5. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
  6. The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become.
  7. Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.
  8. It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.
  9. The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
  10. Always tell the truth; then you don't have to remember anything.
  11. When in doubt, tell the truth.
  12. Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.
  13. Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction after all, has to make sense.
  14. History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme a lot.
  15. A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining and wants it back the minute it begins to rain.
  16. A good lie will have traveled half way around the world while the truth is putting on her boots.
  17. There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
  18. Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
  19. I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn't know.
  20. Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, ... it doesn't matter.
  21. Golf is a good walk spoiled.
  22. It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
  23. Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.
  24. Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
  25. Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.
  26. Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
  27. Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
  28. Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.
  29. Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
  30. Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.
  31. It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.
  32. There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.
  33. It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
  34. The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice.
  35. All generalizations are false, including this one.
  36. Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.
  37. The man who is a pessimist before 48 knows too much; if he is an optimist after it, he knows too little.
  38. Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.
  39. Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
  40. Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.
  41. Necessity is the mother of taking chances.
  42. Familiarity breeds contempt - and children.
  43. Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.
  44. There are several good protections against temptation, but the surest is cowardice.
  45. Prosperity is the best protector of principle.
  46. To refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal.
  47. The main difference between a cat and a lie is that a cat only has nine lives.
  48. Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.
  49. No sinner is ever saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon.
  50. It is easier to stay out than get out.
  51. I never let schooling interfere with my education.

Other interesting quotes

  1. You take the lies out of him, and he'll shrink to the size of your hat; you take the malice out of him, and he'll disappear.
  2. A powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words in a book or a newspaper the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt.
  3. The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
  4. No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.
  5. Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
  6. God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.
  7. Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
  8. When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
  9. The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
  10. There are several good protections against temptation but the surest is cowardice.
  11. The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.
  12. When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it.
  13. Don't let school interfere with your education
  14. Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
  15. Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
  16. Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.
  17. Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.
  18. It is best to read the weather forecasts before we pray for rain.
  19. Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.
  20. Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.
  21. Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.
  22. Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.
  23. When you cannot get a compliment any other way, pay yourself one.
  24. The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
  25. Be good and you will be lonesome.
  26. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.
  27. In the real world, the right thing never happens in the right place and the right time. It is the job of journalists and historians to make it appear that it has.
  28. We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again, and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.
  29. The jury system puts a ban upon intelligence and honesty and a premium upon ignorance, stupidity and perjury.
  30. We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any other in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding 12 everyday men who don't know anything and can't read.
  31. If God had meant for us to be naked, we'd have been born that way.
  32. Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
  33. Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain't that a big enough majority in any town?
  34. Let us be thankful for fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.
  35. The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.
  36. He is now rising from affluence to poverty.
  37. I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up.
  38. In a museum in Havana, there are two skulls of Christopher Columbus, "one when he was a boy and one when he was a man."
  39. If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
  40. A man never reaches that dizzy height of wisdom when he can no longer be led by the nose.
  41. Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
  42. Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.
  43. The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner.
  44. The man who sets out to carry a cat by its tail learns something that will always be useful and which never will grow dim or doubtful.
  45. If a man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.
  46. .. A solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg who looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity.
  47. ... all the modern inconveniences ...
  48. ... an experienced, industrious, ambitious, and quite often picturesque liar.
  49. I respect a man who knows how to spell a word more than one way.
  50. They spell it "da Vinci" and pronounce it "da Vinchy". Foreigners always spell better than they pronounce.
  51. Be careful of reading health books, you might die of a misprint.
  52. By trying, we can easily learn to endure adversity
    -- another man's, I mean.
  53. "Be Yourself" is about the worst advice you can give to people.
  54. When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat.
  55. Thunder is good, thunder is impressive, but it is lightning that does the work.
  56. The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
  57. The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.
  58. In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.
  59. In India, "cold weather" is merely a conventional phrase and has come into use through the necessity of having some way to distinguish between weather which will melt a brass door-knob and weather which will only make it mushy.
  60. Put all your eggs in the one basket and- WATCH THAT BASKET.
  61. Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul.
  62. She is not refined. She is not unrefined. She keeps a parrot.
  63. We ought never do wrong when people are looking.
  64. Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
  65. Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.
  66. I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.
  67. It is better to deserve honours and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them.
  68. Let us endeavour to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
  69. Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist but you have ceased to live.
  70. Familiarity breeds contempt -- and children.
  71. When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.
  72. It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.
  73. A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.
  74. Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
  75. Wagner's music is better than it sounds.
  76. If there are no cigars in Heaven, I shall not go.
  77. I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time.
  78. Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
  79. Let us not be too particular; it is better to have old secondhand diamonds than none at all.
  80. We are always too busy for our children; we never give them the time or interest they deserve. We lavish gifts upon them; but the most precious gift, our personal association, which means so much to them, we give grudgingly.
  81. Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
  82. The miracle, or the power, that elevates the few is to be found in their industry, application, and perseverance under the prompting of a brave, determined spirit.
  83. When people do not respect us we are sharply offended; yet deep down in his private heart no man much respects himself.
  84. Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run.
  85. Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.
  86. There is nothing training cannot do. Nothing is above its reach. It can turn bad morals to good; it can destroy bad principles and recreate good ones; it can lift men to angelship.
  87. It is not best that we should all think alike; it is differences of opinion that make horse races.
  88. I could never learn to like her, except on a raft at sea with no other provisions in sight.
  89. Why is it that people rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the people involved.
  90. I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
  91. The man who does not read books has no advantage over the man that can not read them.
  92. Just the omission of Jane Austen's books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it.
  93. The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them.
  94. Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.
  95. Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.
  96. The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.
  97. Crank a man with a new idea until it succeeds.
  98. All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
  99. The secret of success is to make your vocation your vacation.
  100. It is best to keep your mouth shut and be presumed ignorant than to open it and remove all doubt.
  101. Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thought that is forever flowing through one's head.
  102. The first half of life consists of the capacity to enjoy without the chance; the last half consists of the chance without the capacity.
  103. No God and no religion can survive ridicule. No political church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field, and live.
  104. Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion- several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight.
  105. By temperament, which is the real law of God, many men are goats and can't help committing adultery when they get a chance; whereas there are numbers of men who, by temperament, can keep their purity and let an opportunity go by if the woman lacks in attractiveness.
  106. Love your enemy, it will scare the hell out of them.
  107. Man is kind enough when he is not excited by religion.
  108. Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
  109. The institution of royalty in any form is an insult to the human race.
  110. The history of the race, and each individual's experience, are thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal.
  111. When whole races and peoples conspire to propagate gigantic mute lies in the interest of tyrannies and shams, why should we care anything about the trifling lies told by individuals?
  112. The vast majority of the race, whether savage or civilized, are secretly kind-hearted and shrink from inflicting pain, but in the presence of the aggressive and pitiless minority they don't dare to assert themselves.
  113. Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow.
  114. The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.
  115. I'm glad I did it, partly because it was worth it, but mostly because I shall never have to do it again.
  116. One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity there ain't nothing can beat teamwork.
  117. It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.
  118. Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed down-stairs a step at a time.
  119. I believe that our Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed in the monkey.
  120. Virtue was never as respectable as money.
  121. Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion.
  122. You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus.
  123. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
  124. Sacred cows make the best hamburger.
  125. The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.
  126. All our acts, reasoned and unreasoned, are selfish.
  127. I find that the further I go back, the better things, whether they happened or not.
  128. The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them.
  129. Duties are not performed for duties' sake, but because their neglect would make the man uncomfortable. A man performs but one duty- the duty of contenting his spirit, the duty of making himself agreeable to himself.
  130. It may be called the Master Passion, the hunger for self-approval.
  131. What, sir, would the people of the earth be without woman? They would be scarce, sir, almighty scarce.
  132. I've dealt with many crises in my life, but few will ever happen.
  133. It is amazing what little harm doctors do when one considers all the opportunity they have.
  134. My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
  135. It is nobler to be good, and it is nobler to teach others to be good -- and less trouble!
  136. Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.
  137. Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
  138. Forget and forgive. This is not difficult when properly understood. It means forget inconvenient duties, then forgive yourself for forgetting. By rigid practice and stern determination, it comes easy.
  139. We have the best government in the world... that money can buy.
  140. October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.
  141. For in a Republic, who is "the country?" Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.
  142. In times of change, the Patriot is a scarce man; brave, hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a Patriot.
  143. The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.
  144. There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist, except an old optimist.
  145. Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
    Mark Twain about Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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