Mark Twain

‘Mark Twain’s America’ Shows Off a Rarely Seen Side of the Great Writer

In the handsome new book Mark Twain’s America: A Celebration in Words and Images, written by Harry K. Katz and with beautiful rarities, history, and arcana from the Library of Congress, we get to know the real stories behind one of America’s most celebrated and essential writers. It’s a gorgeous look at period Americana from 1850 to 1910, the odds and ends that, put together, serve as a biography of Twain, in the many roles that he played throughout his life. To celebrate this book, we’re sharing an exclusive sample of the book’s best in Mark Twain ephemera. … Read More

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50 Essays Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person

It’s hard to be a person in the world today — or, really, any day, but today’s what we’ve got. Humans are striving creatures, and also empathetic ones, so most of us are always looking for an opportunity to improve ourselves, even in tiny, literary ways. We’ve already established that novels can make you a better person, but of course, novels also take you down a long winding road to get there. If you’re looking for a more direct shot to the heart, try an essay. After the jump, you’ll find 50 essays more or less guaranteed to make you a better person — or at least a better-read one — some recommended by notables of the literary and literary nonfiction world, some recommended by yours truly, incessant consumer of the written word. Don’t see the essay that changed your life? Please do add it to the list. … Read More

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Loving Letters from Famous Fathers to Their Children

Happy Father’s Day to you and yours. We’re honoring dear old dad by looking at a collection of letters from famous fathers to their children. They’re an intimate glance at the personal lives of renowned figures as family men. Lovingly composed, these beautiful missives are inspirational, full of joy, and a wonderful source of advice. … Read More

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Hilarious Victorian-Era Caricatures of Famous Intellectuals

In case you couldn’t tell, Flavorwire loves 19th-century England. So when Open Culture alerted us to the existence of the 1873 book Cartoon Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Men of the Day, we had to click through its pages and share a few of our favorites of the 49 illustrations of famous English people. Drawn by Frederick Waddy, the images below even include one of our favorite Americans. … Read More

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Absurd Urban Dictionary Definitions of Famous Authors

You probably know Urban Dictionary as the place where parental types lurk and where the English language goes to die. As crass as the definitions are, they’re occasionally accurate — especially in the case of these famous authors. Urban Dictionary users have a crude way of getting right to the point, which is where the humor in these definitions of iconic literary figures shines bright. They’re not exactly factual, but we can’t argue that Poe’s life sucked, that Franz Kafka needs his own rock opera, or that Vonnegut is deserving of much worship. Presented without comment, and with grammatical/spelling errors intact, see how Urban Dictionary defines your favorite writers, below. … Read More

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20 Great Southern Short Stories

The American South has produced an incredible amount of great literature. Earlier this month, we published a hearty list of classic novels to come out of the region. But for those who don’t have the hours to devote to Southern culture’s long-form masterpieces, there’s plenty of great short fiction set south of the Mason-Dixon, too. Featuring some famous tales by literary greats like William Faulkner, Mark Twain, and Flannery O’Connor, this list is a great way to start exploring Southern short… Read More

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The 50 Best Southern Novels Ever Written

The American South has long been seen as the focus of the country’s Civil Rights Movement, carrying with it the stigma of poverty, racism, and anti-intellectualism. Yet the region has also produced a disproportionate number of intellectuals, poets, and writers, possibly because of the complicated and layered identities each Southerner holds within him- or herself. The South has begotten some of our nation’s most important authors, including prize winners like William Styron, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Ralph Ellison, Harper Lee, and that titan of American letters, William Faulkner. These 50 novels are a reminder that the South cannot be defined solely by its failings; it is also responsible for shaping the minds of countless thinkers who offered to American literature essential insights about not only their region but the world at… Read More

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20 Famous Authors as Dolls

How best to prove your adoration of a particular writer? Make a doll in their likeness, of course. Or if you’re a little less than crafty, buy one. Or, you know, just look at them on the Internet. This last bit you can accomplish right now. Yes, your favorite authors have been immortalized as everything from action figures to wooden works of art to paper dolls to LEGO figurines, and you’ll find 20 of them after the jump. As an added bonus, many of them are buyable, so if you’re still looking to fill your favorite bookish friend’s holiday stocking, look no further. But be prepared for them to think you’re slightly creepy. … Read More

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25 Fabulously Cranky Mark Twain Quotes

Mark Twain was born on this day in 1835. He lived until his 70s, which he considered “the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity.” The writer regarded old age with the same acerbic wit that made him the greatest humorist of his time. Tragedy always seemed to be knocking at Twain’s door. He lived through the death of three children and his wife, and financial troubles weighed heavy on him — but for Twain, “humor [was] the great thing, the saving thing after all.” We’ve gathered 25 of Twain’s crankiest quotes that celebrate the father of American literature’s sharp tongue. … Read More

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12 Vintage Advertisements Starring Famous Authors

Nowadays, you aren’t likely to find a famous novelist shilling for their favorite brand — for one thing, most writers just aren’t as recognizable as your average actor, and for another, well, they’re artists. But it wasn’t always that way: quite a few writers have appeared in advertisements over the years, even lending their own words to support a product. Yep, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck: both sellouts. We kid, we kid. After the jump, check out a few famous writers selling everything from alcohol to… well, it’s mostly alcohol. Have a favorite vintage literary ad we’ve missed? Link to it in the comments! … Read More

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