"I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it... The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'"
Why is he important?
His place among local color writers comes from his travels in the west (Roughing It) and his tours of Europe (Innocents Abroad), both done as travel literature and connected to his work as a newspaper journalist;
His greatest works, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are loosely based on his own boyhood in Hannibal, Missouri;
He was Darwinian and deistic, believing that one absorbs nature by assembling and assimilating bits of data and believing that God reveals himself neither personally nor scripturally but through “his works.” The deist believes in the divine order of things, and Twain believed in man’s reasoning ability to give meaning to the randomness of nature.
What differentiates him from his contemporaries?
Diversity in focus
Because he had such a long career as a writer, his focus shifted from humorous and lighthearted at the beginning of his career to dark and cynical towards the end.
He was critical of social ills and problems, ranging from slavery to the class system to poverty to governmental corruption;
His popularity as a journalist, essayist and lecturer made him a public figure and celebrity.
What are some of the Literary Characteristics of his work?
He uses realistic detail in his writing, presenting all facets of life objectively and refusing to sugar-coat the more unpleasant aspects;
He uses dialect and colloquialism to give his characters a regional flavor.
Early in his career, he is a local colorist, i.e., a regionalist: