Great and strange ideas transcending experience often have less effect upon men and women than smaller, more tangible considerations. ~ The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. ~ East of Eden by John Steinbeck
“And what, incidentally, do you think integrity is? The ability not to pick a watch out of your neighbor’s pocket? No, it’s not as easy as that. If that were all, I’d say ninety-five percent of humanity were honest, upright men. Only, as you can see, they aren’t. Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea. That presupposes the ability to think. Thinking is something one doesn’t borrow or pawn.” ~ The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
“You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions or its office-holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous.” ~ A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
And he gave it for his opinion, “that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.” ~ Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you. ~ A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
“When you’ve learned to laugh at the things that should be laughed at, and not to laugh at those that shouldn’t, you’ve got wisdom and understanding.” ~ Anne of the Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. ~ David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
“And, above all things, never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you very much at your own reckoning.” ~ The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope
“Its matter was not new to me, but was presented in a new aspect. It shook me in my habit – the habit of nine-tenths of the world – of believing that all was right about me, because I was used to it.” ~ Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
A man will tell you that he has worked in a mine for forty years unhurt by an accident as a reason why he should apprehend no danger, though the roof is beginning to sink. ~ Silas Marner by George Eliot
The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice. ~ Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
1 – Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was born on November 30th 1835. He died on April 21st, 1910.
2 – For a time he worked as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. He also worked as a newspaper journalist and a miner before he turned to writing fiction.
3 – While he was well paid as a writer, he was plagued with financial problems. One of his biggest problems was bad investments. He lost a lot of money with his investment in Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter. Twain eventually declared bankruptcy. However later he paid back all of his creditors.
4 – He married Olivia Landon in 1870. They remained together until her death in 1904. They had four children.
5 – Twain was born shortly after a visit by Halley’s Comet. He told people that he would “go out with it” as well. Here’s a quote from Twain in 1909.
I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together’.
Twain predicted correctly. He died the day after the comet’s return.
Novels by Mark Twain
The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Prince and the Pauper
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
The American Claimant
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson
Tom Sawyer Abroad
Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc
Tom Sawyer, Detective
The Mysterious Stranger (published posthumously)
In Mark Twain, Ron Powers consummates years of thought and research with a tour de force on the life of our culture’s founding father, re-creating the 19th century’s vital landscapes and tumultuous events while restoring the human being at their center. He offers Sam Clemens as he lived, breathed, and wrote — drawing heavily on the preserved viewpoints of the people who knew him best (especially the great William Dean Howells, his most admiring friend and literary co-conspirator), and on the annals of the American 19th century that he helped shape. Powers’s prose rivals Mark Twain’s own in its blend of humor, telling detail, and flights of lyricism. With the assistance of the Mark Twain Project at Berkeley, he has been able to draw on thousands of letters and notebook entries, many only recently discovered.