Nov. 30 is a historic day in American literature. It’s the day Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was born.

He has been hailed as the greatest American humorist of his age and the father of American literature.

“He wrote great books and had big ideas,” Weber State University English Professor Russel Burrows said.

Burrows uses Mark Twain as part of his class curriculum and has students read his books. He believes Twain had a great amount of influence on American literature and American English.

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Mark Twain (Wikimedia)

“First of all, he helped to start a revolution in English,” Burrows said. “If you read most of the big authors before the Civil War, they’re going to sound mostly British. Twain came along and used what you might call American English.”

Burrows credits Twain for starting the linguistic revolution he believes has been going on ever since.

One of his most beloved stories is “Huckleberry Finn.” It narrates the adventures of a boy from Missouri and his friend, an escaped young slave, as they embark on a river raft adventure down the Mississippi.

“He was one who had the courage to talk about America’s biggest sore spot, which had been slavery and racism,” Burrow said. “He told a great story of two characters on a raft, and to make the story interesting, he made the story an

Weber State English major Mackeely Morris remembers studying Twain in her high school classes.

Morris believes Twain had influence on more than just American literature. She thinks his influence was even greater in shifting attitudes regarding the issues affecting America at
the time.

“He kind of thought that there could be peace in America,” Morris said. “He definitely had ideas about making America a better place.”

Burrows believes Twain’s humor is the reason people still read his books.

“He was just helpless — he couldn’t resist a joke,” Burrows said. “He was a

Twain would have been 182 years old this month. His stories and name still live on today, entertaining and taking the minds of many on great adventures.

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