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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Brilliance of Mark Twain

"Anyone who's ever had a bull by the tail knows 5 or 6 things more than anyone who hasn't.” –  Mark Twain 

Mark Twain, born Samuel Clemens in Hannibal, MO, in 1835, is on nearly everyone’s list of all-time great American authors.  As a young man, he held a series of jobs which included work as a printer’s apprentice, a Mississippi riverboat pilot, and a newspaperman in Nevada and San Francisco. He moved gradually from journalism to travel writing and then to fiction, aided by the success of his 1869 travel memoir The Innocents Abroad
Often leaving words open to each reader’s interpretation, Twain would draw his readers into his works by making it their task to clarify what they were reading.  His tales of human nature, especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Huckleberry Finn (1885), remain standard texts in high school and college literature classes.   
                                  “Use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences,” Twain advised. "That is the way to write English―it is the modern way and the best way.   Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it.  No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them―then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.”

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