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Presenting Author – Mark Twain

Posted: Sun May 13, 2018 12:09 pm
by Maxim Trevelyan
Name of the author: Mark Twain
Main genre: Realism / Fiction / Adventure / Historical / Non-Fiction / Humor
Main audience: Young Adult on

Main Books
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • The Prince and the Pauper
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Short summary of the author: Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, this American writer, humorist, publisher, entrepreneur and lecturer published many books, serials and short stories under the pen name Mark Twain and others. He was awarded the titles of “greatest humorist USA ever produced” and “the father of American literature”, latter said by none other than William Faulkner.

Good points / bad points: One of the best points in Twain’s literature is his sharp wit and humor, for which he is so well-known, present most prominently in his novels, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He also paints a very pretty picture with his scenes descriptions and can become quite invested in the character when he wishes so. His books are classic for a reason and a person must read his most iconic ones at least once in their life.

As for bad points, first thing to single out is the frank, stereotypical, and sometimes offensive, language that Twain uses in regard to minorities in some of his work. That of course does not mean that he himself was such a person, but it reflects the backward thinking of the late 19th century’s society. A reader should be careful since they may come across such language. When he is extremely passionate, Twain also tends to go on too long on a certain topic and readers may notice how his own ardent opinion seep into his protagonists’ thoughts.

Re: Presenting Author – Mark Twain

Posted: Sun May 13, 2018 12:11 pm
by Maxim Trevelyan
Title of the book: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)
Author: Mark Twain
Series: No
Genres: Historical / Fantasy / Humor
Audience: Young Adult on

Short summary of the story (from Goodreads):
A nineteenth-century American travels back in time to sixth-century England in this darkly comic social satire. Using modern skills and knowledge he secures a high position of the kingdom and not liking the current state of affairs, tries to change them, hoping to establish a republic.
Good points / bad points: Twain covers multiple subjects in this book, with a humorous twist to them, as he is so famous for. He cleverly shows that forcing change and introducing new concepts to a people on a whim is not such an easy thing to do and it can have more negative and positive consequences.

Ah, the bad points. For me, this book went on a little bit too long, especially the beginning. I have a feeling this story would fare better as a collection of short stories as Twain’s writing is episodic in nature. Twain also used this book as a bit of a personal soapbox at times, and while that is true for a lot of authors, I do think he went on too strong at some points, like for example, when he (or rather the story) discussed absolute monarchy. There is also little character development but for two or three main (or main-ish) characters, because Twain gave greater emphasis on the protagonist’s rantings and thoughts.

Would I read this book again? Probably not. It was not a bad story, but not great either.

Re: Presenting Author – Mark Twain

Posted: Sun May 13, 2018 2:39 pm
by Maxim Trevelyan
Title of the book: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)
Author: Mark Twain
Series: Yes (Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn)
Genres: Adventure / Fiction / Historical

Short summary of the story (from Goodreads):
On the banks of the Mississippi River, Tom Sawyer and his friends seek out adventure at every turn. Then one fateful night they witness a violent crime. The boys make a blood oath never to reveal the secret and Tom carries on his usual activities, like playing pirates.
Good points / bad points: Humor in this book is on point, especially for a younger audience. It has so many hilarious moments, like a fight with fake big brothers or fence painting. Twain really writes children characters quite well and he makes them believable. It is worth to read it just for the adventure alone.

Like I mentioned before in the main Mark Twain post, this book in some parts contains stereotypical and racist language towards minorities, such as Native Americans and people of color, which was common practice in late 19th century (but still not excusable). This is perhaps the only bad thing I have to say about this book. Though, if I recall correctly there are versions of the book, which do not contain such language, so the readers who might have a problem with Twain’s original next may read the “clean” version.

Re: Presenting Author – Mark Twain

Posted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:27 am
by Shiloh Adlar
I also recently read The Adventure's of Tom Sawyer. I grabbed the copy my library had, and it's a newer version written specifically for younger readers while still not abridging anything. In other words, the language that Maxim was discussing has been taken out. I was aware of such things before setting out to read the book as it is considered a classic and was ready for it as it was historically "accurate" at the time (I say that as in meaning that it was the language used back then, yet still not right). However, I also think that by taking such things out of a book, it also hurts it. History is important and I believe it is important to leave such things in the original text simply because it then allows children to raise questions and for their parents to teach them. If questions are not raised, then hate continues to be cycled through the years. It's like banned books in schools for the silliest reasons. Let children ask questions. Let them learn. Don't try to protect them from everything because when they're older, that's impossible to do and then they can't handle it. Let them develop their own opinions in life.

And this book is about a child going on "adventures" of sorts and just being a child. However, even with all of this, he does learn as he goes along. This is what childhood is about. Setting out and making discoveries about life.

It was certainly an enjoyable read, and I found myself laughing at some of it considering I can see the ridiculousness in it as an adult but still also remember that childlike way of thinking.