Re-reading Samuel Clemens: Marking the Literary Adventures of Mark Twain

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Mr. Raju Kumar, Dr. AimanReyaz


Mark Twain hated to be introduced. He was somebody who stood up in front of a lot of large live audiences and very quickly and very early in his career, he decided to take over the business of introducing himself. In some sense he needs no introduction. Although Mark Twain never really existed; he was afterall simply a figment of imagination of a man named Samuel Clemens. During Clemens’ lifetime Mark Twain became and to this day he remains one of the best known and best loved of all Americans. He was a country’s first true literary celebrity and even in our 21st century, in a society saturated with celebrity images and various cultural and commercial icons with faces that we see on every magazine one month and then seem to disappear the next, even in our time the figure of Mark Twain stands out very vividly in most people’s minds. The image of a man in a white suit with that main of white hair with that moustache that seems to need combing with a cigar in one hand and a twinkle in both eyes. Generally, people smile thinking about Mark Twain because the image conjure up all the pleasure people associate with that figure. Advertisers tell us that image is everything but the researcher does not believe that. Image can be a mask which can disguise or hide more than it reveals (Arac 21). The thesis would focus on his public image and how he was seen amongst his contemporaries and the performances he engaged in. The writing in which he cast his ‘Mark Twain’ persona in the role or protagonist;lectures and speeches in which he performed Mark Twain before live audiences throughout America and around the world (Rasmussen 84). But the thesis will also keep trying to get behind the scene on which this image was being enacted. Not just at how it was being shaped but also at what is being disguised or transformed or lost in the process of its enactment (Harris 19). Throughout the thesis we will be guided by two large questions: a. What has Mark Twain meant to the American audience that made him such a star? b. What did Mark Twain mean to the man who created him, whose name was Samuel Clemens?

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