Talk:Mark Twain

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Former good article nominee Mark Twain was a Language and literature good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
High traffic

On November 30, 2011, Mark Twain was linked from Google, a high-traffic website. (See visitor traffic)

The Players Club... the Ice Cube movie??[edit]

The section "Financial Troubles" has the following sentence: "Arriving in September 1893 he took a cheap room at $1.50 per day at The Players Club, which he had to keep until March 1894 meanwhile becoming The Belle of New York." Hilariously, but probably incorrectly, the link associated with The Players Club is to the 1998 movie with Ice Cube. This should probably be fixed, but it will have to be by someone other than me, since the article is locked.2601:B:C580:2D9:CAF7:33FF:FE77:D800 (talk) 02:10, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for the notice. I've made the correction. Dhtwiki (talk) 09:08, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

For some reason I get the feeling that Twain would have enjoyed that lol Vyselink (talk) 21:06, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

Added edit template to original request, and marked answered...please let me know if that wasn't proper wiki form Velojareal (talk) 03:27, 17 December 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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I have checked the archived source and found it present, but lacking in relevant information, perhaps due to dead internal links. The cite as it now exists is unnecessary. — Neonorange (talk) 10:02, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

was Twain truly an "abolitionist," in the strict meaning of the term at the time?[edit]

was Twain truly an "abolitionist," in the strict meaning of the term at the time?

before the Civil War, an "abolitionist" was someone who favored ending slavery immediately, in one fell swoop. there were many people who favored ending slavery, however, who were not "abolitionists." they were gradualists of one kind or another.

among other things, many gradualists feared that the slaves were not prepared for freedom, that because they had never taken care of themselves economically and therefore would suffer if they were suddenly freed. they believed that the slaves needed to be prepared for freedom, or that ending slavery should take place over the course of a generation, that the children of all slaves born after a certain date, for example should be free while the older generations, the parents and grandparents, remained slaves and the responsibility of their masters.

my recollection, although i don't remember where i read it, is that Twain expressed abhorrence at the idea of abolition, in the strict sense.

however, the word and its cognates have come to mean people who simply favored ending slavery.

2601:18A:8100:9BDA:4D4A:48C:96A1:D85B (talk) 19:33, 22 October 2015 (UTC) Michael Christian

First - Clemens as a child was not an "abolitionist" in the sense of seeking the end of slavery. Second - after the Civil War, Clemens took it upon himself to personally pay for educating some blacks all the way through college. He was thus more enlightened that many "abolitionists" had been. He did think his Hartford neighbor was a bit stuck-up. Collect (talk) 02:21, 23 October 2015 (UTC)

Twain joined an irregular militia aligned with the Confederacy until it maneuvers became to exhausting for him and the quit. He sided with the Confederacy in the early part of the war when he was in Nevada, when the war turned towards the Union advantage he switched sides. I do not see how he could support the Confederacy and be an abolitionist. After slavery is abolished by the 13th Amendment no one can become an abolitionist anymore because slavery is abolished. Perhaps Twain thought slavery would slowly die out if the states were allowed to police the matter, but that would not qualify him as an abolitionist. So there seems to be a very small window for him to be an abolitionist beginning when he stops supporting the Confederacy and the passage of the 13th Amendment. I haven't come across anything that would show that he was. -Wowaconia (talk) 16:03, 24 October 2015 (UTC)

Appreciable doubt has been cast on "The Private History of a Campaign that Failed" with regard to its historicity.[1]. " I was in the Civil War two weeks. In that brief time I rose from private to second lieutenant. The monumental feature of my campaign was the one battle which my command fought – it was in the summer of ’61. If I do say it, it was the bloodiest battle ever fought in human history; there is nothing approaching it for destruction of human life in the field, if you take into consideration the forces engaged and the proportion of death to survival. And yet you do not even know the name of that battle. Neither do I. It had a name, but I have forgotten it. It is no use to keep private information which you can’t show off. In our battle there were just 15 men engaged on our side – all brigadier-generals but me, and I was a second-lieutenant. " does not quite ring as entirely truthful at all. He decidedly did not side with the Confederacy when he was in Nevada for sure - he worked with his brother who was a Lincoln appointee. And as far as slavery goes - the "slave" was the smartest person in Huckleberry Finn. Rather look to his notebooks (#35 has " It shows that that strange thing, the conscience--the unerring monitor--can be trained to approve any wild thing you want it to approve if you begin its education early & stick to it. ") and tell us he was a true believer in slavery. Collect (talk) 16:26, 24 October 2015 (UTC)

He certainly favored the Confederacy in Nevada, while his brother was a Lincoln supporter he was not - working for a family member does not mean you have the same opinion as that person. Only as the war turned against the Confederacy did he begin to favor the Union. Huckleberry Finn was not written till far later in his life, when his views had changed. See Mark_Twain_in_Nevada#Shifting_sympathies for sources. --Wowaconia (talk) 20:14, 25 October 2015 (UTC)

The article you note from Wikipedia is not worth any more than its sources - it relies heavily, in fact, on one source for all the claims you wish to have here ("Mark Twain and the South") and I suggest you read the extended Autobiography at this point. Collect (talk) 21:42, 25 October 2015 (UTC)
He certainly favored the Confederacy in Nevada... Evidence? --Calton | Talk 05:09, 31 October 2015 (UTC)

It is a mistake to think that developing a support for civil rights after the war is the same as an abolitionism. One has to oppose slavery as an ongoing institution to qualify for the term abolitionist. You and I can not qualify regardless of our abhorrence to slavery because its not an ongoing institution anymore. Whatever Twain's opinion on civil rights after slavery was abolished can never raise him to the level of abolitionist. The sources presented in the article linked above show the youthful Twain supported the Confederacy early on, these sources are both notable and reliable. Provide countering sources of the same quality if you think your position has any grounds other than mere opinion.-Wowaconia (talk) 13:58, 30 October 2015 (UTC)

I fear you have misread my comments and the positions of experts on Twain. He was not opposed to slavery as a child for the simple reason that he lived in an area where slavery was practiced. He did not go to Nevada until after the start of the Civil War, and his brother was specifically appointed by Lincoln to go to Nevada - an area heavily populated by Southerners (vide the naming of "Virginia City" etc.) He was never an "abolitionist" for the very simple reason that he was never in a position to be an "abolitionist" but he was quite specifically an egalitarian and anti-racist quite early on. And note I in no place call him an "abolitionist" so I fear you may see straw men. As you have given one source, and the other sources make clear his egalitarianism and anti-racist views (note especially his period in San Francisco not all that much later where he decried the anti-Chinese (anti-Asian) sentiment which existed well into World War II, I fail to see what point you actually wish to make. Have you read the latest part of his Autobiography yet? Collect (talk) 14:44, 30 October 2015 (UTC)

Concerning the desire for a source on his changing opinion from pro-Confederacy to Union supporter see such books as The Reconstruction of Mark Twain: How a Confederate Bushwhacker Became the Lincoln of our Literature [books link] ; Mark Twain and the South [books link]. I think you will find that they are considered both reliable and notable by Wikipedia standards.

Scholars hold his autobiography is not concerned about historical accuracy but is more of a hagiography designed (and at points crafted from sheer imagination) to make the author look both humorous and never outside of the morality of the time.

The question at issue is about being an abolitionist and the answer is clearly he wasn't; raising points about his personality after the 13th Amendment is not germane to the question. Not only was Twain not an abolitionist but he voluntarily served militarily for the Confederate cause (dropping out due to hardship not a change of mind). He continued to root for them early on in Nevada before changing to support the Union side - from what looks like opportunism due to social pressure.

In reality Twain was easily in a position to be an abolitionist if he had the convictions to be one; as his brother Orion was an abolitionist [Google books reference provided here].

The tone of my responses comes from the feeling that the endless repeating of Twain's latter positions and the questioning of sources about his earlier ones has nothing to do with Wikipedia standards but are motivated by a desire to preserve a heroic view of Twain's entire life regardless of what historic sources actual say. Twain wasn't an abolitionist he was a Confederate--until the war turned on him. -Wowaconia (talk) 18:02, 10 November 2015 (UTC)

Your tone appears to be that of a person who "knows the truth" about a person and, come hell or high water, will dismiss sources one does not like as "hagiographies" and those sources which agree with what one "knows to be the truth" as "revealed scripture." As for making assertions that he ought to have the exact same opinions as his brother at the same time as his brother - I suspect you must have no siblings<g>. And I note your insistence that he was a major supporter of the Confederacy - using facts not in evidence. What we do know is that Virginia City was filled with Southerners, and that Orion was in Carson City. We have nothing written from Twain indicating that he favoured the CSA while in Nevada, nor indicating that he only "switched" after the CSA was losing. And one of your sources says "Young Sam may himself have set the type for the confession" which is editorial surmise of the lowest level. Saying Twain "may himself have set the type" for anti-black articles for a paper by which he was employed is on the order of saying that any typesetter for any newspaper believes in the articles he has typeset. I assure you that such a surmise is quite weak. In April 1861, Twain did not enlist in the CSA army. Your cite states that Twain basically saw no military action - yet you insist he was a strong Confederate? Do you think Twain altered printed maps to change boundaries as your source imputes? Page 27 of your source is interesting - saying that the Missourians had to be driven down to Arkansas before they could be defeated. I do not think this is much about "Confederate sympathies" at all. Your source then says that because he referred to the Union forces as "they" that this shows Confederate sympathies. In fact, it shows sympathy for Noah Webster as much as anything. I fear you read too much into quote-farming and not enough into reading the books. Collect (talk) 19:27, 10 November 2015 (UTC)

I have provided sources you have deemed that these sources do not fulfill your own person standard and have not made any attempt to say they are disqualified by Wikipedia standards.

The idea that Twain's writings put historical accuracy as less important than making a funny tale is widespread; here are a few of the scholars that came up from a quick search that hold he is more interested in humor rather than historical accuracy: See [Reverend Mark Twain: Theological Burlesque, Form, and Content By Joe B. Fulton];[Twain By Frederick Anderson]; [Twain, Culture and Gender: Envisioning America Through Europe By J. D. Stah]; [Twain's Other Woman: The Hidden Story of His Final Years By Laura Skandera Trombley].

I mentioned his brother Orion because he arose from the same household as Twain and his convictions led him to be an abolitionist, while the claim put forward was that Twain was somehow in a position to never become an abolitionist - in response I put forth a reference showing that it was Twain's will and not his opportunity that kept him from being an abolitionist - as his brother in the same household took the opportunity to become one. The young Twain did not have the conviction that abolitionism was a worthy cause despite being from the same household as his brother. It wasn't a case of opportunity but will.

Twain did have an attachment to the Confederate cause early on, and tried to pass himself off as having been a Lieut. of the Regular Confederate Army when he first came to Nevada, and was much embarrassed when he was found out to have been merely with an irregular militia [Google Books Ref].

You are flatly wrong about Twain's loyalty to the Confederate cause in his early days in Nevada - this is most easily seen in his own letter to William H. Clagett, on 28 Feb 1862 [this link from the Mark Twain Project]. In the letter he refers to those fighting the Union as "we", talks about the forces fighting for the Confederate cause as "our Missourians"; and refers to Union forces as "they". Historians constantly site this is proof of Twain's loyalties such as [this Google Books sample from historian Philip McFarland].

My point isn't that he is willing to bleed for the Confederacy, my point is that the Confederacy has a strong hold on his mind before Nevada and for awhile after he arrives there - and despite his brothers example, the idea of abolitionism has no hold on his mind whatsoever. --Wowaconia (talk) 19:52, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

Your primary problem is that I read sources - and pointed out that the sources you have given do not support your claims. That Clemens "may have set the type" for something does not make that article his personal opinion, for example. In point of fact, though, there is no source which says he was strongly attached to slavery, nor that he was a strong proponent of secession at all. Not even the sources you quote-mine actually make such claims. Your source you just give immediately above has him calling the Federal forces as "we" in 1862. Long before the "Confederates were losing the war." When quote-mining, read the entire page found - better yet, the entire book.
He has thrashed our Missourians like everything. But by the Lord, they didn’t do it on the Sacred Soil, my boy. They had to chase ’em clear down into Arkansas before they could whip them. There’s consolation in that. If they had remained on the Soil, Curtis couldn’t have done it. It’s all in the Soil, you know. Take a Missourian on his own soil, and he is invincible.
to me clearly reads like his usual satiric take on events - and not a claim that Missourians were special to him, or that he favoured the CSA - he was making fun of them being chased all the way out of their home state down into Arkansas. Collect (talk) 20:32, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

I didn't say he was for racial slavery I said he was for the Confederate cause. The Confederate cause included members who held the idea that slavery was unfortunate but would eventually die out on its own - this in contrast to the abolitionist position that called for slavery to be abolished immediately. Unless you want to say that the Confederate cause was about "state's rights" and had nothing to do with slavery, then supporting the Confederate cause means supporting the continuation of slavery rather than its immediate abolition.

I stated that Twain was attached to the Confederate cause in his youth even in his early days in Nevada. It seems you now accept this because of the sources I cited. Twain was not an abolitionist, he sided with the Confederate cause even for a while after he arrived in Nevada. --Wowaconia (talk) 21:45, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

Inasmuch as I never called Twain an "abolitionist" I fear I do not understand why you so adamantly insist your sources state what they do not state. Nor (other than your source which implies a typesetter is responsible for what he might have set in type) do you present any material contrariwise. This is finished. Collect (talk) 22:10, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

Twain's own letter proves he supported the Confederate cause when he was in Missouri and continued into his early period in Nevada. You can't support the Confederacy and be an abolitionist. So not only is there no evidence that he was an abolitionist there is evidence he was in opposition to them.--Wowaconia (talk) 22:23, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 5 November 2015[edit]

The nickname Livy is used without prior reference; elaborate spouse name (talk) 02:50, 5 November 2015 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done - I see what you mean. I've edited that section to make the mention of his wife more explicable. Dhtwiki (talk) 08:08, 5 November 2015 (UTC)

Recent archiving[edit]

@SNUGGUMS: Recent archiving of 2012–2014 shouldn't go into the first archive (#1), whose other articles are from 2002–2006 but into the latest (#6, or start #7). Dhtwiki (talk) 21:31, 9 November 2015 (UTC)

I don't know how things got messed up like that, but they've now been moved to archive 7. Snuggums (talk / edits) 21:38, 9 November 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 19 November 2015[edit] (talk) 21:09, 19 November 2015 (UTC) he was a cub pilot on the Mississippi river

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: Yes, Twain was; thanks for the suggestion. This is explained in the Early life section of the article: "Steamboat pilot Horace E. Bixby took on Twain as a "cub" pilot to teach him the river between New Orleans and St. Louis for $500, payable out of Twain's first wages after graduating". — Neonorange (talk) 01:22, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 1 February 2016[edit]

Category:People of the American Old West (talk) 01:51, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

Is this a request to add this article to the category People of the American Old West? If so, the requested change is not necessary because this article is already in the category People of the California Gold Rush, a subcategory of People of the American Old West. You can find an explaination of Wikipedia categories here.
If I have misinterpreted your request, please repeat your request (see box above) but explain fully the changes you wish to make, I.e., "Please add this article to the category 'People of the American Old West'.
The status of this request is X mark.svg Not doneNeonorange (talk) 09:39, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

Inappropriate link for citation[edit]

As a citation for the mention of the only existing video footage of Twain, the article links to the clickbait content farm io9, and only then does one get a link to for the video. The article should link to directly. CRCulver (talk) 18:42, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

I've changed the external link as you suggested, as well as re-working much of the citation. Dhtwiki (talk) 23:19, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
The citation (footnote 37) still links to io9 instead of CRCulver (talk) 00:05, 9 April 2016 (UTC)
I attempted to place a longer explanation of my reversion of Dthwiki's edit, but ran into an edit conflict with CRCulver's latest post. I will try again, as the correction was not sufficient. — Neonorange (talk) 00:50, 9 April 2016 (UTC)
@Dhtwiki and @CRCulver—The edit to the citation by Dhtwiki does not solve the problem:
  • the citation, after Dthwiki's edit points only to another copy of the film clip of Twain by Edison, it does no provide any information to the support the sentence.
  • the film clip already is pointed out, and can be viewed, at the image of the first frame of the clip at he the lede of the article (no reason for it to appear twice)
  • the pointer to viewing the film clip credits uTube, and redirects to uTube and its ads
  • the pointer to the clip must be changed on Commons—that means someone must download the clip from as an .ogg file, then uploaded to WikiCommons so that redirecting outside (with the possibility of link-rot, and the necessity of double bandwidth requirements) will not be necessary, and so that all the language wikis will have the same good access ( check how many language Wikipideias use this clip)
  • a WP:RS must be found for the Love and technology sentence. — Neonorange (talk) 00:50, 9 April 2016 (UTC)

Regarding Twain as author or writer[edit]

I’d just as soon call Twain a writer rather than an author because “author” is no more than a vague catch-all for the creator of almost anything. See the first definition in the OED:

      The person who originates or gives existence to anything.

But I’d prefer calling Twain a novelist and a short story writer, since he’s known for his humorous novels and short stories. But he was also a journalist. So, “writer” is the correct broader term.

To write Twain was an “author and humorist” is redundant, since the definition of author would include humorist and damn near anything else. JoePeschel (talk) 18:23, 1 August 2016 (UTC)

The Wikipedia featured article Ernest Hemingway begins

Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short story writer, and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Additional works, including three novels, four short story collections, and three non-fiction works, were published posthumously. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.

This is a good model for the Mark Twain article. Defeating Debating the dictionary definition of a word is getting a bit too granular. A good lede should be precise without being pedantic. A good lede should draw the reader in, while preparing her for the meat of the article. The lede here has gotten choppy through the accretion of small edits. I suggest rewriting the top of the lede, using a longer first paragraph. — Neonorange (talk) 19:47, 1 August 2016 (UTC)
The Hemingway lede sentence and lede graf are fine models for the Twain bio and the bios of other writers.
JoePeschel (talk) 17:09, 2 August 2016 (UTC)
The sense of "author" in the OED quoted above is marked gen, for "genitive", in my edition, meaning that "author of <something>", i.e. where author is qualified, can be used to refer to the maker of anything. But a later sense, marked esp[ecially] and abs[olutely], says that when used alone the word refers to "One who sets forth written statements; the composer or writer of a treatise or book." So, the OED is not by any means forbidding the use of "author" as it was used in this article in the past. Dhtwiki (talk) 05:15, 29 October 2016 (UTC)


The topic doesn't provide any support for the categorization of Twain as a publisher (aside from the use of the term "published" which has a different meaning) TEDickey (talk) 15:23, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

I've recently looked at several references that characterize Twain's profession(s), and not one uses "lecturer", "publisher", or "entrepreneur" to describe him. The Encyclopedia Britannica refers to him as a "novelist and humorist". Others use just "writer". Webster's dictionaries describe him as "American humorist". Dhtwiki (talk) 05:29, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
What? Founding and losing money with Charles L. Webster and Company doesn't count as publishing? Clarityfiend (talk) 10:18, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
Evidently not. Show me a source equal to the ones I listed that describes Twain as a "publisher". He was certainly not notable as a publisher. If publishing had been the main field of his endeavors, I don't think we'd be talking about him. Dhtwiki (talk) 23:32, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
Who says it has to be his "main field"? Should we then also remove him from Category:Confederate States Army soldiers and Category:People of the California Gold Rush because he wasn't successful or noted for them? Huffington Post talks about his self-publishing and publishing, and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum describes him as, among other things, a publisher. Clarityfiend (talk) 00:53, 30 October 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── For important authors, Wikipedia can depend on well-regarded, recent biographies. Tertiary references (Britannica) are useful as pointers to secondary sources.

Twain was a lecturer who embarked on extensive lecture tours:

In his lifetime Mark Twain was almost as well-known a public speaker as he was a writer, and lecture tours were a major source of his income. From early in his career, he could fill a lecture hall wherever he went. While he joked in 1868 that he was staying on in San Francisco an extra day “in order to lecture & so persecute the public for their lasting benefit & my profit,” by 1872 he was frustrated and exhausted by the demands of touring, and he hoped he could soon retire from lecturing. However, he had learned that his public appearances helped promote the sale of his books, and so he returned to the stage again and again. In 1884-1885 he hired author George Washington Cable to accompany him on what became their “Twins of Genius” tour, which he used to promote his forthcoming book, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Profits from his “Around the World” tour in 1895-1896 allowed him to clear the debts incurred by his investment and business failures.
— The Business of Being Mark Twain

Twain is notable as the publisher of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the memoirs of Ulesees S Grant:

His solution was to start his own subscription publishing firm. In 1884 he founded Charles L. Webster and Company, which he named after his business agent (and his niece’s husband), who became its director. Clemens hoped to reap the combined benefits of being an author and a publisher. The new company enjoyed great success with its first two publications, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. Sales of the two-volume memoir generated a record-breaking royalty payment of $200,000 for the president’s widow and made Clemens a wealthy man.
— The Business of Being Mark Twain

The above quotes from the online "catalog" from a Twain exhibition at the Cornell University Library seem persuasive to me. And would be supported by the Twain scholarship. — Neonorange (talk) 12:19, 30 October 2016 (UTC)

Infobox: unsupported parameter[edit]

I removed an unsupported parameter and argument form the infobox:

| influenced = [[Jeff Smith (cartoonist)|Jeff Smith]]<ref name=TheCartoonist>{{cite AV media|people = Ken Mills (Director) |title =[[The Cartoonist: Jeff Smith, BONE and the Changing Face of Comics]]|medium = Documentary|publisher = Mills James Productions|date = July 21, 2009}}</ref> .

The documentation for the writer infobox Template:Infobox writer states the contents of 'influenced' should be worked into the text of the article. The parameter has only on argument, 'Jeff Smith'—Mark Twain influenced many more writers. None are mentioned in the text. I am placing the name and citation here for possible future use. — Neonorange (talk) 07:27, 4 January 2017 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 23 February 2017[edit]

In Mark Twain's paragraph on his later life and his despise for religion, he his quoted saying "If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be – a Christian." This quote has now been proven false and should completely be removed. (talk) 09:12, 23 February 2017 (UTC)

Not done for now: Your claim requires verification. Please provide a link to a reliable source. RivertorchFIREWATER 13:30, 23 February 2017 (UTC)