The American Claimant is an 1892 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. Twain wrote the novel with the help of phonographic dictation, the first author (according to Twain himself) to do so. This was also (according to Twain) an attempt to write a book without mention of the weather, the first of its kind in fictitious literature. ...
The American Claimant is an 1892 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. Twain wrote the novel with the help of phonographic dictation, the first author (according to Twain himself) to do so. This was also (according to Twain) an attempt to write a book without mention of the weather, the first of its kind in fictitious literature. Indeed, all the weather is contained in an appendix, at the back of the book, which the reader is encouraged to turn to from time to time. Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 - April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called "The Great American Novel." Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which provided the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. After an apprenticeship with a printer, he worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to the newspaper of his older brother, Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his singular lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. In 1865, his humorous story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," was published, based on a story he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California, where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention, and was even translated into classic Greek. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. Though Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he invested in ventures that lost a great deal of money, notably the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter, which failed because of its complexity and imprecision. In the wake of these financial setbacks, he filed for protection from his creditors via bankruptcy, and with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, though he had no legal responsibility to do so. Twain was born shortly after a visit by Halley's Comet, and he predicted that he would "go out with it," too. He died the day after the comet returned. He was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age," and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature." Twain began his career writing light, humorous verse, but evolved into a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies and murderous acts of mankind. At mid-career, with Huckleberry Finn, he combined rich humor, sturdy narrative and social criticism. Twain was a master at rendering colloquial speech and helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. Many of Twain's works have been suppressed at times for various reasons. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been repeatedly restricted in American high schools, not least for its frequent use of the word "nigger," which was in common usage in the pre-Civil War period in which the novel was set. A complete bibliography of his works is nearly impossible to compile because of the vast number of pieces written by Twain (often in obscure newspapers) and his use of several different pen names. Additionally, a large portion of his speeches and lectures have been lost or were not written down; thus, the collection of Twain's works is an ongoing process. Researchers rediscovered published material by Twain as recently as 1995 and 2015.
'The American Claimant' is a preposterous sitcom from the American master of preposterosity, Mark Twain.
Col. Mulberry Sellers, a nutbag, claims he is rightful heir to the seat of an English earl. He threatens to sue the present earl to regain his title and lands.
The earl's son, meanwhile, has 'modern' ideas about the stigma of inherited wealth and position, says he wants to throw it all up. The silly young man goes to America to renounce his title, give his inheritance to the American claimant and make his own way in the world.
The situation, already grossly unlikely, is then resolved by a grossly unlikely train of coincidences: The young earl falls in love with the American claimant's beautiful, featherbrained daughter. His father, the stern and stolid present earl, approves. The nutbag American claimant approves. The young couple marry and are deliriously happy. Then the nutbag claimant suddenly finds himself vastly and independently wealthy. Hence he loses all interest in the English title and lands. Like a 19th century Al Gore, he sets out instead to buy a controlling interest in global climates and in the ownership of Siberia, Greenland, Iceland, and all of the sunspots on Sol.
So it is that 'The American Claimant' is not for serious readers nor is it for sane people generally. It's a romp for pathologically simple-minded people who are able to suspend all disbelief and laugh at comedic elements in a set of characters and situations that bear no resemblance to real life.
It seems to this writer that in 'The American Claimant,' Mark Twain somehow lost control of his narrative (or his mind). He stepped over the line that separates parody from absurdity and for whatever reason could not pull back. The ending is more of a train wreck than a resolution.
Solomon sez: 'The American Claimant' is a stinker in which one finds a few amusing situations and some clever lines floating, like bits of crackers, adrift in a soup of drivel. Maybe for you but not for me.
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