Richard S. Lowry

in ‘Littery Man’

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780195102123
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855087 | DOI:

Series: Commonwealth Center Studies in American Culture


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Mark Twain highlights personal experience as the primary foundation of building pieces of literature, rendering them certain legitimacy. Mark Twain considered himself to be a “scribbler of books” instead of a novelist. The difference between “capital” and “cultural or educational” writing was distinct and this resulted in different qualities of writing, of which the former Mark Twain was uneasy about. Mark Twain was a social fiction “authored” by a particular man. This is extended to Mark Twain's books wherein his characters are public figures living double lives. His characters are not created from scratch, but rather, are derived from incidents out of real life. Mark Twain's writings encompass a variety of genre, intent, and quality. What distinguishes his works from others is that they employed narrative to retain his humor rather than employing humor to drive the narrative.

Keywords: personal experience; capital; culture; authorship; humor

Chapter.  6804 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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