Mark Twain's Satire

Early life of Mark Twain. Literary career, Twain’s first successful experiences. Marriage and wife’s influence on Mark Twain’s literary works. "The Guilded Age" as the first significant work. Critical analysis of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer".

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Язык английский
Дата добавления 10.07.2009
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In Sweden, and the other Scandinavian countries, there was not much interest in American literature before the middle twenties, although there was great interest in a few American writers. Mark Twain in particular enjoyed the same popularity as in Germany. The chief librarian of the Royal Swedish Library, Mr. O. H. Wieselgren, said in a letter that he was given the Swedish translation of Huckleberry Finn as a birthday present when he was ten years old.

I read the book [he continued] so that I learned It by heart. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, was translated in 1906. Sinclair since that time has been very widely read, and his social views have a great importance for the working class in our country. The Harbor, by Ernest Poole, was translated in 1915 and met with great interest. But the most admired of all American authors in Sweden has been and is still Jack London. His first books carne in translation in 1909-10, and since that time he has appeared in innumerable editions. In public libraries he is still the most sought-for American author.

Interest in American literature, as opposed to interest in particular writers, began with the visit to the United States of the influential critic G. Ruben Berg. On his return to Sweden in 1925, he published Modern Americana, in which he gave an account of the new authors who had appeared since 1910, with much space devoted to Sinclair Lewis. Most of the authors he mentioned were translated into Swedish during the years that, and in 1930 first American. To win the Nobel Prize for literature, which is awarded by the Swedish Academy. Eugene O'Neill was the second, in 1936; he had always acknowledged his debt to be even more popular in Strindberg's country than in the rest of Europe. Pearl Buck, who won the prize in 1938, was also particularly liked in Sweden. Ten of her books appeared there between 1932 and 1940, more than were translated from any other American author during the years covered by the Index Translationum. In all, the Index lists 213 American books in the field of general literature that were published in Sweden: a curious selection from new and half-forgotten authors, with Louisa May Alcott rubbing elbows with Dashiell Hammett. "The 'hard-boiled' literature plays an important role for our younger authors," Mr. Wieselgren notes. "I think no literature has during the last decade been more important and more read here than the American."

The last statement would also apply to Norway and Denmark. In the latter country, Pearl Buck was the most popular American author from 1932 to 1939 best sellers like Anthony Adverse and Gone with the Wind), but way and her by 1940. Holland, however, was in a different situation. Sheltered from transatlantic winds by the British Isles, it received most of its American books indirectly, after they had first become popular in London. In general it made no distinction between British and American literature.

Under Mussolini the Italian censorship was in theory not very strict; the only two American novelists whose works are known to have been forbidden were Hemingway (after his description of the Italian retreat in A Farewell to Arms) and were removed by decree from public libraries. Still, the whole effect of Fascist policy was to discourage, in a quiet way, the translation of authors from the democratic countries. The Italian public heard little about the new American literature and, like the Dutch public, it made no sharp distinction between American books and English books--usually preferring the latter, just as it preferred French books to either. Even after the liberation, when the Italians set to work translating the foreign works they had missed for the previous twenty years, there were not many American authors in the early publishers' lists (Steinbeck, Vincent Sheena, Kenneth Roberts); more attention was paid to the new French and English poets and the classical Russian novelists.

In Spain, American books and American movies had a brief vogue under the Republic. There was a time when the younger Spanish poets, probably influenced by their French colleagues, wrote nostalgically about gangsters and skyscrapers and in some cases made pilgrimages to New York; that was also the time when the news stands in Barcelona and Madrid were full of American magazines; but the vogue ended with the civil war. American books were suspect in Franco's Spain; even Gone with the Wind was not published there until 1943.

But Gone with the Wind, which eventually appeared in all the other European countries and was read by both sides during the early years of the Second World War, was never published in Soviet Russia. In their choice of American books for translation, the Russians followed a pattern of their own, one that began to be discernible even before their Revolution. From the beginning they liked American books if they were realistic or humorous or heroic in treatment, if they were democratic in sentiment, if they dealt with life in a great city or, still better, with adventures on the frontier, and if the characters were representative of the American masses. Cooper was the first American author to win lasting favor in Russia; then came Harriet Beecher Stowe; then Bret Hatred and Mark Twain; and then, in 1910, Jack London, whose popularity increased when he was universally regarded as a socialist writer after the 1917 Revolution--he was the author whom Krupskaya, Lenin's widow, read to her husband on his deathbed.

After 1918 there was a State Publishing House in Russia; but there were also commercial publishers until 1928, and they competed for books by American writers. Of these Jack London was still the most widely read: from 1918 to 1929 there were six editions of his collected works in twelve to thirty-volume sets? Upton Sinclair was almost at popular, his books being regarded as a mine of information about capitalistic society. There was such a scramble for the right to publish them that Lunacharsky, the People's Commissar of Education, put an end to it in 1925 by officially designating Sinclair as a Soviet classic, thus putting him on the same pinnacle as Tolstoy and Pushkin, and, incidentally, vesting the Russian copyright to his books in the State Publishing House.

O. Henry was another favorite, not only with the masses but also with many of the Soviet writers, who studied him for his technique (so that stories with an O. Henry twist were being published in Russia at a time when American short-story writers were imitating Chekhov). James Oliver Cur-wood was enough like London in his themes and settings to be liked for the same reasons; there were forty-two editions of his separate novels between 1925 and 1927. Other American authors published at about the same time were Sherwood Anderson (studied by serious Russian writers), Sinclair Lewis^ Booth Tarkington (Penrod), Edna Ferber (So Big and Rex Beach, and Zane Grey. During all period' the general popularity? American books continued to increase. In six months of 1912, there had been seven American authors published in Russia as against twenty-two English authors; in six months of 1928, there were forty-two Americans and thirty-seven Englishmen.

In 1928, at the beginning of the first Five Year Plan, the state took over the whole Russian publishing trade. There was a change in the character of the books selected for translation: Rex Beach, Zane Grey, and other popular entertainers disappeared from the lists of the state-controlled publishing houses. In their place came several proletarian novelists of the American depression years: Michael Gold, Jack Conroy, Albert Halper, all of whom reached a Russian audience several times as large as their audience at home. A complete edition of Dreiser's works was published in 1930; it was called the literary event of the year. Dos Passes was the most widely read American author, in literary circles, from 1932 to 1934; at one time the Organization Committee of Soviet Writers conducted a formal discussion of his work that lasted for three heated and dialectical evenings. From 1935 to 1939 or later, Hemingway occupied a similar position; he too wistful subject of an or-ganized discussion by Soviet writers, and his technical influence on them seems to have been more extensive and more lasting than that of Dos Passos (whose books, incidentally, continued to be published in Russia in spite of the strongly anti-Communist position which he took after 1935).

Hemingway was translated in full; and all his books reached a wide audience except For Whom the Bell Tolls, which had been set in type when the publishers became worried by a long passage attacking Andre Marty by name. Marty, the French Communist"was at that time a refugee in Russia, and a publishing house controlled by the state did not like to be put in the position of endorsing what it regarded as a slander against him. The result was that the volume never went to press, although the proof sheets were read attentively by most of the writers in Moscow. Erskine Caldwell and John Steinbeck are two other widely translated Americans whom the Russian writers admired. At the same time both men reached the general public, which also liked Pearl Buck, Richard Wright's Native Son, and, during the war years, John Hersey's A Bell for Adano.

Control of the publishing industry by the Soviet state kept many books out of Russia and promises to keep out many others during the postwar years of international tension. It also led to the translation of books with more political than commercial appeal; but apparently it had no deep effect on the literary preferences of the Russian people. They continued to like the American authors whom they liked from the beginning; and in general the state-controlled publishers supplied them with the books they demanded. The Russians are fond of exact figures: when they say that Jack London has been" the most popular of all American authors in the Soviet Union, they support the statement by. Adding that his various books have been printed in 567 Russian editions, of which 10,367,000 copies were sold between 1918 and 1943. Mark Twain comes after him at a distance, with 3,100,000 copies sold during the same period, and Upton Sinclair comes third, with 2,700,000. In the twenty-five years that followed the Russian Revolution, there were 217 Ameri-can authors translated into Russian--again the exact figure, furnished by the State Publishing House--and the total sale of their translated books was 36,788,900 copies.

There were not so many of our authors published in Latin America and, until the Second World War, their appearance were subject to long delays.

They had to make a double voyage across the Atlantic before reaching Argentina or Brazil; they traveled by way of Paris, and few of their books were admitted without a French visa of critical or popular approval. As in France, some of our Western and Northwestern story writers found a public easily: Rex Beach, James Oliver Curwood, Zane Grey. But the only serious North American author who exercised a direct influence in America Hispana during the twenties was Waldo Frank. He lectured in all the capitals from Mexico City to Buenos Aires, he spoke a fluent literary Spanish, and he attacked Yankee imperialism while defending--and introducing to a sym-pathetic audience--the rebel American writers.

Early in 1941, a student of inter-American affairs went through a collection of the catalogues issued by Spanish-language publishers, almost all of whom have their headquarters in Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, or Mexico City. He found that they listed seven translations from Waldo Frank, more than from any other living North American writer. There were five translations from Sinclair Lewis, four from Steinbeck, and two each from Dos Passos and Upton Sinclair (though Sinclair had seven other books issued by smaller, chiefly socialistic, publishers who printed no catalogues); also the student found translations of best-selling novels like The Good Earth, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, A Farewell to Arms, and Gone with the Wind-- in all, forty-three volumes from our current literature, exclusive of technical works, Westerns, and detective stories. He would have found many more North American books if he had examined the lists of the same publishers five years later, for there were a new interest in our literature after Pearl Harbor.

In part this interest resulted from the wartime activities of the Office of Inter-American Affairs, which sent several of our writers on lecture tours of South America and subsidized the publication of North American books that would not otherwise have appeared by paying for their translation into Spanish and Portuguese. Most of the books it subsidized were technical or historical; but the Office of Inter-American Affairs also arranged for the publication in Spanish of a two-volume anthology of contemporary North American writing, carefully edited by John Peale Bishop and Alien Tate, There would have been a growing interest in our literature without such encouragement, for the Latin Americans were excited by our entrance into the war, they were receiving very few books from Europe, and they were hearing from many unofficial sources about the younger North American novelists and poets. Hemingway, Steinbeck, KatherineAnne Porter, and Crane were among those and Brazilian intellectuals.

It is hard to gather accurate information about American literature in the Orient, where, generally speaking, the laws of international copyright are not enforced. In Japan before the Second World War, they did not even exist, as regards American books: a treaty negotiated under the first Roosevelt gave the Japanese permission to translate any American work without notifying the author. Not even squatter's right was recognized, and there was nothing to prevent five Japanese publishers from presenting five differently garbled translations of the same novel, as happened in the case of Gone with the Wind. Of three Japanese versions of Whitman, who had a large following, only one is said to have had any literary merit. Poe also--his fiction rather than his verse--was inaccurately rendered and widely read.

After 1930 the ruling clique in Japan tried hard to discourage "decadent" American influences, including the new American fiction; but Japanese publishers kept racing to press with competing versions of American best sellers. Main Street was a success in Japan; so too was Pearl Buck's The Good Earth, which was followed by translations of her later books (even those like The Patriot in which she condemned the Japanese invasion of China); while Gone with the Wind was the greatest success of all, having a sale in its various translations of more than half a million copies. At least twenty-four books by Upton Sinclair were translated into Japanese. A correspondent told him in 1931, "A term now often on the lips of people interested in modern literature is Sinkurea Jidal, which means 'The Sinclair Era.'" Many of the American proletarian novelists who flourished in the thirties had larger sales in Japanese, as in Russian, than they had in their own language; and the censors at first were rather easy-going. Leafing through the proof sheets of translations about to be published, they looked chiefly for Japanese equivalents of three words, "revolution," "people's," and "social." If the dangerous words were present, at first they merely deleted them before approving the book for publication; but later they deleted the whole chapters in which they appeared and, still later, they began throwing the translators and publishers into jail. Hide Ozaki, who had translated Agnes Medley's Daughter of Earth, was hanged in November, 1944, long after some of Sinclair's trans-lators had preceded him to the scaffold. Safire Judaic had ended.

There was also a Sinclair era in China, where at least seventeen of his books had been published by 1930. Six more were then in process of translation, but nobody in this country, it would seem knows whether they appeared. In China the business of publishing foreign books is not only piratical, as it has been in Japan, but also completely unorganized. Any bookstore in Shanghai is likely to issue its own translations without notifying its rivals, let alone the American authors. Some of these authors have been widely read. There were, for example, at least three translations of The Good Earth, one of which was cut and garbled; the other two were widely discussed in the Chinese press, where some of the reviewers--a minority, as might be expected--thought that Mrs. Buck had presented a true picture. Gone with the Wind appeared in one or more unauthorized translations. Lao Shaw, the author of Rickshaw Boy, reported for the Chinese writers born after 1910 that their chosen American author was Eugene O'Neill, who was also most influential with the educated public as a whole. Other favorites were Steinbeck and Saurian.

In India the educated classes read many or most of their American books in the British colonial editions. Whitman, with what might be called his profound smattering of Eastern philosophy, has always had followers there; the greatest of these was Rabindranath Tagore. Gandhi read Thoreau, who contributed to his philosophy of nonviolent resistance; also, according to nephew Marinades Gandhi, he read "most if not all" of Upton Sinclair. No study has been made of recent translations into the various Indian languages; but it is known that The Good Earth was rendered at least into Bengali, and possibly into others as well, while various books by Sinclair have appeared in Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Urdu, Tillage, Marathi, and Singhalese.

Beyond a doubt, Sinclair is the most widely translated novelist of the twentieth century not read for pure entertainment. By 1938 there had been 713 translations of his various books, which had then been published in forty-seven languages and thirty-nine countries. There are several reasons for Sinclair's international popularity. Shortly after he wrote The Jungle, which traveled round the world within two years of its American publication in 1906, he was adopted as a favorite author by the international working-class movement in both its main branches, the Menshevik and the Bolshevik, later the Social Democratic and the Communist. But his books were also read by the middle classes in most of the countries where they were allowed to circulate, partly because they all told straightforward, rapidly moving stories, but chiefly because each of his novels, besides being a story, was a well documented journalistic survey of some aspect of American life: an industry, a city, a political movement, or a celebrated trial. The world-wide interest in Upton Sinclair was also an interest in America as a whole.

From any survey of American books abroad, however incomplete it may be, we gain a somewhat different picture of American literature at home. We learn, for example, that it has been richer and more varied than most of us had suspected from merely reading our choice of each season's new fiction or factual reporting. The export of American literary works has not been standardized, like that of Detroit automobiles; instead each country has been choosing the American books that met its particular tastes. Sometimes these books have been the work of authors little known in the United States who achieved their widest fame in Europe or Asia. Sometimes American writers have been adopted and, as It were, given honorary citizenship by the differ-ent countries to which their minds appealed; so that Faulkner in France, Hemingway in Russia (like Jack London and Mark Twain before him), O'Neill and Pearl Buck in Scandinavia, Thomas Wolfe in Germany, Waldo Frank in Latin America, and Upton Sinclair in many parts of the world, but especially in the Orient, have come to be regarded as almost native authors.

At the same time, there are some American books that have swept across the world without pausing at national boundaries. Not a few of them were critical of American standards, and the reason for their popularity is not hard to explain: foreign readers like to be told that not everything is perfect in the land of the jukebox and the low-priced automobile. Most of the universally read books, however, were either adventure stories (a commercialized branch of fiction in which our writers have a long tradition of technical skill), or they were epical novels on the scale of Gone with the Wind and Grapes of Wrath--it did not matter, apparently, whether they dealt with the past or the present, from a conservative or a radical point of view, so long as they filled a canvas as big as the top of a covered wagon, and so long as they told a story that everyone could follow.

Story, or narrative, according to the English critic Lovat Dickson, is one of two qualities that distinguish recent American fiction. "To the outside observer," he said, "it seemed suddenly to become characteristic of all American entertainment and to mark it off quite sharply from the English equivalent. Story suddenly became of first-rate importance, and appreciation of narrative became a marked American characteristic." The other quality Dickson mentioned was gusto. "Today it seems to us in England," he said, "the essential, distinctive, and enviable quality of American fiction. Somewhere and somehow, in the American novel towards the end of the post-war decade, solemnity was miraculously shed and in its place appeared a new virility as mysteriously and suddenly as the works of Fielding, Sterne, and Smollett had appeared in eighteenth-century England."

French critics were more impressed by other qualities of American fiction (or by the same qualities under different names): they mentioned its intensity and singleness of emotion, its earthy dialogue, its delight in physical violence, and what they called its "pure exteriority," a term they applied to the practice common among American novelists of presenting character in terms of speech and action, without auctorial comments, as if they were writing for the stage. Russian and Czech critics were deeply impressed by the technical discoveries of our novelists, whom they studied very much as American writers used to study Flaubert. Critics of all nations felt that they were dealing with a unified body of work. For that is our second impression after a survey of American books abroad: besides being immensely varied, they also possess a family resemblance that has not always been recognized at home. "American," said one French critic "is not so much a nationality as a style."

During the first half of this century, the position of American literature in foreign countries has been completely transformed. It was still regarded, before 1900, as a department of English literature, a sort of branch factory that tried to duplicate the products of the parent firm. After 1930 it came to be regarded as one of the great world literatures in its own right, and perhaps, as regards contemporary work, the greatest of them all. But this transformed position was not merely a secondary result of the growth in economic and military power of the American nation; it was also an independent development that testified to a change in the literature itself. Europeans were not slow to recognize that there had been a literary revival here after 1910; and they showed the same hospitality to the new writers of the interwar period that they had shown, a century before, to the writers of the New York and New England renaissance.


Mark Twain is the most famous American writer in our country. His books are being read in our country for more than one hundred years already, and interest to his creative activity is still not decreased.

Opposite, we can boldly say that with each new generation, who opens for themselves Twain's books, the attention of the reader to Twain becomes broader and deeper.

The personality of a writer constantly causes sympathy and respect because of unrestrained gaiety of the early Twain and, anger and bitterness of the late Twain.

During his known trip to USA in 1906 A.M. Gorky had got acquaintance with Twain. The former characterized the outstanding humorist as following:

"Beside on his large skull there were splendid hair, - somewhat like wild stripes of white, cool fire.” - enchanted by the old writer, Gorky wrote.” From beneath heavy, always half-lowered ages, there is vividly seen a clever and sharp, brilliance, sculpture eye, but, when they are taken a look straight in your face, you feel that all wrinkles on him are measured and will remain for ever in memories of this person.

With the help of the Twain's books, tales, journeys, we get acquainted with the American folk, American history, their customs, and the beauty of the American nature. The Great Russian poet Nicolay Aseev wrote: “I am very fond of Mark Twain. He, with the only one wave of his hand, instantly carries me to the bank of the majestic Mississippi river. And I see in the silver depths the life of the people of the Mississippi.”

We also feel the same delight of Mark Twain when he, as a real patriot of his country, criticizes his own country. The Russian writer Yury Olesha expressed the thoughts of all our folk, when he wrote, “Mark Twain threw all his genius to the service for humanity, to the fortification of humans' belief in them, to the help of soul development aside to fairness, good and beauties!” And these words seem to us as the best to show the significance of Mark Twain for humanity.


1. Albert В.Paine. Mark Twain. A Biography. Vols.1-2, 1982 Harvard University press pp.483, 511

2. A.Paine Mark Twain and his works Washington 2002 pp.160-161

3. А.Старцев Жизнь и творчество Марка Твена М. ИХЛ 1976 стр 23, 45-46, 79, 112-113, 255

4. History of the American Literature M. High School 1987 pp.223-224

5. Internet: http://

6. Internet: http://www. Charles Wyett In-depth look at the writer. txt

7. Internet: http://www.

8. Internet: http:// Twain's Papers.html

9. Internet: http:// Life and writings of the great American writer, Mark Twain. htm pp.1-3

10.Internet: critics.htm

11. Mark Twain Collection of works NewYork 1997 pp.156-159, 274-276, 279, 412

12.. Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn M. Prosveshcheniye 1986 pp.13, 26, 78, 134, 145, 149

13.·Mark Twain The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer L. High School 1974 pp. 34,47, 89, 113-114

14. Mark Twain. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court M. Drofa 2003 p.134, 163, 222, 267

15. Mark Twain quotations Prentice Hall Publishers 2001 pp.34, 46, 172, 228, 291

16. Philip Phoner Twain Prinston, 1998 p.145

17. Readings on modern American Literature M. High School 1977 pp. 177-229

18. The Correspondence of Samuel L.Clemens and William D.Howells. 1872-1910. Vols. 1-2. Harvard Universily Press, 1960 pp. 284, 287, 312

19. World Book Encyclopedia New York 1993 Vol. 21 pp.597-600

20. Юрий Олеша Заметки о Твене М. Детская литература 1975 стр. 11

21. Юрий Олеша. Ни дня без строчки. М., 1965, стр. 216-220.

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