Category Archives: Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Storm of Thoughts

“Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that are forever flowing through one’s head.” Mark Twain

Twain is known for his acerbic wit more than for positive thinking quotes – yet I see an encouraging thought in this sentence about the power we have to be happy. In this era, we might call it mindful living. Twain’s thought is similar to the quote about life being 10% what happens and 90% what we do about it. I recently wrote an article about joy and found that one proven “attitude changer” is to keep a gratitude journal and write five things you’re thankful for each day before bed. It helps shift your “storm of thoughts” to happier ones.

Jane Austen Mark Twain

Twain on Austen

“Jane Austen’s books, too, are absent from this library. Just that one omission alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn’t a book in it.”

Mark Twain and I do not agree on the merits of Jane Austen. One aspect I admire is how well she chronicled her era (she died two decades before Twain was born).

Twain left behind a scathing and unfinished essay of Austen. Yet he certainly was familiar with her novels — meaning he took the time to read them. Twain was a master of the “put down” and seemed to relish writing them. So I’m not sure if this literary feud was real or for the sport of it. You’ll find an interesting essay on Twain’s writings about Austen in The Virginia Quarterly Review. Twain went on to observe that an Austen novel was such that “once you put it down you simply can’t pick it up.”

Mark Twain

Huckleberry Finn

“I hadn’t had a bite to eat since yesterday, so Jim he got out some corn-dodgers and buttermilk, and pork and cabbage and greens—there ain’t nothing in the world so good when it’s cooked right—and whilst I eat my supper we talked and had a good time. . . We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.”

I’ve read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn several times; it’s one of those books that you get something new out of with each reading. Here in Mark Twain’s great novel, Finn and Jim are enjoying the simple pleasures on their raft away from the rules of society. Many essays and reviews have been written about this American classic, I’ll just add it’s a great re-read for summer.

You can visit the Mark Twain’s House and Museum in Connecticut.