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Twain’s Brand and the Modern Mood

Twain’s Brand and the Modern Mood

(p.3) Chapter One Twain’s Brand and the Modern Mood
Twain's Brand
Judith Yaross Lee
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter shows that, although Mark Twain tops most lists of great American humorists, analyses of his significance treat American culture as if humor were barely part of it. One of the likely reasons for this is the belief that Twain’s humor belongs to a trivial nineteenth-century popular culture of dialect writing, hoaxes, and tall yarns, while his themes, especially race and politics, belong to the twentieth-century canon of belle lettres. This book shows that Samuel L. Clemens adapted nineteenth-century comic traditions to burgeoning twentieth-century cultural trends in ways that won popular and economic success in his own time, expressed modern views of self and society, and anticipated contemporary American humor and culture in many ways.

Keywords:   belle letters, Mark Twain, American humorists, Samuel L. Clemens, comic traditions, cultural trends

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