Mark Twain is the fountainhead to the great winding waterway of America's native-born literature, a literature that finds profundity in the personal experience and everyday speaking habits of its people; in their typically wry humor in response to pretense, oppression, and sorrow; and in their founding democratic ideal that rebukes all forms of tainted privilege and power, including the deep American strain of racism. No other single author is as closely identified with shaping a voice that propelled the young nation toward its final break from the rigid dictates of European literary forms. No other nineteenth-century writer remains as readable at the dawn of the twenty-first, nor as strikingly prophetic of contemporary themes and concerns. And no figure ever did more to romanticize the experience of American boyhood.Less
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