Mark Twain: American Vandal, Undying Literary Legend

A new biography of Mark Twain (1835-1910) has been published by Harvard University Press.

Roy Morris Jr.’s 279-page American Vandal: Mark Twain Abroad takes off at the point when Twain embarked on the cruise ship, The Quaker City, in 1867 when the writer was 31-years-old. From New York City, the vessel carried Twain across the Atlantic, into the Mediterranean, around Europe, and ended with the Holy Land and Egypt’s historic monuments.

As the Washington Post reports, Mark Twain (born Samuel Longhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri) was at that time a roving correspondent for the San Francisco newspaper, the Alta California. Indeed, as Richochet reported in an interview with The Bookmonger, Twain’s most recent biographer Morris mentioned that the author of one of the Great American Novels, Huckleberry Finn, was in his own time actually known more as a journalist and travel writer than he was as a novelist.

In this way, it is pertinent to mention that, as Morris releases his new Mark Twain biography (following on from his previous title, Lighting Out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain), another journalistic publication which Twain used to work on is being revived.

As News.com.au reports, The Territorial Enterprise is being brought back after three decades of dormancy. Originally based in Virginia City, Nevada, the paper has now been set up in Carson City by Capitol Publishing Group and will be available online and in monthly print format. Twain worked at The Territorial Enterprise from 1862 until 1864, prior to his adventures on The Quaker City and subsequent literary success. Former Nevada state historic preservation officer, Ron James, is one individual who is looking forward to Twain’s story-telling journalistic touch being revivified by a new generation.

“I’ve always said Samuel Clemens was born in Missouri and Mark Twain was born in Nevada, and without his western sojourn there’s no way he would have been a nationally renowned author.”

Certainly, Twain’s fame lives on – sometimes in strange ways. As the Inquisitr reported at the start of the year, even Adam Sandler wants to keep the legacy of the literary giant alive. Directing the upcoming Netflix movie, The Ridiculous 6, Sandler received some ridicule in his choice not only to include Twain as a character in his parody of westerns such as the Magnificent Seven, but that he had chosen Vanilla Ice to take on the role. Some subsequently quoted Twain on God making “idiots” as “practice.”

As Roy Morris Jr.’s American Vandal makes mention, Mark Twain’s adventure begun in 1867 was eventually published as The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrim’s Progress. Reporting for the Washington Post, Michael Dira appreciated the biography’s freedom from heavy academic tone, and inclusion of interesting tidbits of information on the writer who brought the American reading public the likes of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, and Life on the Mississippi. The title, too, was apt.

“In its [Innocents Abroad] pages Twain looked at old Europe not as a Henry Jamesian sophisticate but as a down-to-earth, no-nonsense “American Vandal”.”

A biography, a newspaper reborn, a reappearance in film: Mark Twain’s legacy is ongoing; an inspiration to so many. As the author himself advised, “The secret of getting ahead, is getting started.”

[Image courtesy of Alvin Langdon Coburn/Getty Images]