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美国作家马克·吐温简介

2005-12-22 00:00

  马克·吐温(l835~1910)美国作家,本名塞缪尔·朗赫恩·克莱门斯。马克·吐温是其笔名。出生于密西西比河畔小城汉尼拔的一个乡村贫穷律师家庭,从小出外拜师学徒。当过排字工人,密西西比河水手、南军士兵,还经营过木材业、矿业和出版业,但有效的工作是当记者和写作幽默文学。

  马克·吐温是美国批判现实主义文学的奠基人,世界著名的短篇小说大师。他经历了美国从“自由”资本主义到帝国主义的发展过程,其思想和创作也表现为从轻快调笑到辛辣讽刺再到悲观厌世的发展阶段。他的早期创作,如短篇小说《竞选州长》(1870)、《哥尔斯密的朋友再度出洋》(1870)等,以幽默、诙谐的笔法嘲笑美国“民主选举”的荒谬和“民主天堂”的本质。中期作品,如长篇小说《镀金时代》(1874,与华纳合写)、代表作长篇小说《哈克贝里·费恩历险记》(1886)及《傻瓜威尔逊》(1893)等,则以深沉、辛辣的笔调讽刺和揭露像瘟疫般盛行于美国的投机、拜金狂热,及暗无天日的社会现实与惨无人道的种族歧视。《哈克贝里·费恩历险记》通过白人小孩哈克跟逃亡黑奴吉姆结伴在密西西比河流浪的故事,不仅批判封建家庭结仇械斗的野蛮,揭露私刑的毫无理性,而且讽刺宗教的虚伪愚昧,谴责蓄奴制的罪恶,并歌颂黑奴的优秀品质,宣传不分种族地位人人都享有自由权利的进步主张。作品文字清新有力,审视角度自然而独特,被视为美国文学史上具划时代意义的现实主义著作。19世纪末,随着美国进入帝国主义发展阶段,马克·吐温一些游记、杂文、政论,如《赤道环行记》(1897)、中篇小说《败坏了哈德莱堡的人》(1900)、《神秘来客》(1916)等的批判揭露意义也逐渐减弱,而绝望神秘情绪则有所伸长。

  马克·吐温被誉为“美国文学中的林肯”。他的主要作品大多有中文译本。

  Mark Twain (l835~1910)

  Write without pay until someone offers it. If no one does so within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended.

  Mark Twain was the pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who grew up in Hannibal, Missouri. His father was a storekeeper and died in 1847. His early occupations included apprenticeship to a printer, writing for his brother's newspaper and, just as importantly in retrospect, piloting ships on the Mississippi (where, incidentally, he was actively discouraged from reading). It was this latter job that provided material for his most famous books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), and gave him his working name. Mark twain is a naval term meaning two fathoms deep.

  In fact, Twain published his early works under the name Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass but he settled on the now familiar pseudonym as a correspondent for a variety of Nevada and California magazines. He achieved fame as a humorist with The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches (1867) and Innocents Abroad (1869), and began a first English lecture tour in 1872. His writing covered numerous topics but frequently utilised autobiography (Roughing It (1872), Life on the Mississippi (1883)) and fantasy (The Prince and the Pauper (1882), A Connecticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur (1889)).

  Twain's most famous books remain Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, both of which concern life on and around the Mississippi and contain much of the social and political satire familiar from his other writings. However, their success could not prevent Twain from experiencing financial troubles in the last twenty years of his life. He left for worldwide lecture tours and wrote many less purposeful books, although The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg (1900) is pleasingly inventive. Twain died in 1910 having made it to a ripe old age for a man who reportedly smoked forty cigars per day.

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