Hall Of Idols #22: Mark Twain


Twenty-second installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.

Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.

Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.

As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.

When you think in terms of literary prowess, innovation and achievement, you’d be hard pressed to find a writer that encapsulates more all these qualities than Mark Twain. His wit and dry humor were hardly matched throughout history and he still stands as a benchmark to all writers.

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835 in Florida (MO).  He moved to Hannibal in the same state, a port town on the Mississippi river that would inspire the fictional town of St. Petersburg on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Of course, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are characters that will live forever due to how perfect they were constructed and the depth of the stories they are in. However, I personally, love something else by Mark Twain.

He was a member of The Bohemians, a group of four writers who got together in San Francisco in the beginning of the 1860s. He was young, fleeing from the horrors of the Civil War that threatened to tear the country apart. San Francisco was a thriving city that boomed from the recent Gold Rush. The writers found inspiration in the tall tales of Western campfires, majestic landscapes and the radical moral code of the frontier. When the movement ended with Twain in money troubles and plagued by self-doubt, nobody could predict how their fortunes would change.

Twain’s experience in San Francisco reflected directly in the writing of all his most famous books and made them invaluable and enduring. And of course, gave birth to one of his tens of famous quotes: “The coldest winter I ever saw, was the summer I spent in San Francisco”. It’s even quoted on Clint Eastwood’s Alcatraz.

Mark Twain also invented – albeit accidentally – what we now call stand-up comedy. He was an in demand speaker in men’s clubs. He even made a speech in Vienna’s Concordia Press Club, speaking in German, entitled “The Horrors of the German Language”. This is so Twain. He was lauded as the greatest American comic of his age.

Mark Twain is also responsible for the single greatest statement about prostitution ever: “The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs less.”

He was called father of the American literature by William Faulkner, he’s an honorary member of the prestigious Savage Club in Engalnd and also an honorary member of Princeton University’s Cliosophic Literary Society.

“’All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn’. American writing comes from that.” This a quote by no less than Ernest Hemingway. I rest my case.

Therefore, jump on your wooden raft, sail down the river and welcome to the Hall Of Idols, Mr. Twain.

Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal”.

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

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