William Faulkner called him “…the first truly American writer.” Ernest Hemingway declared that all American writing comes from “Huckleberry Finn,” and “there has been nothing as good since." And Norman Mailer said “Huck Finn” stands up “page for page” to the “best modern American novels.” Wednesday marks the 176th anniversary of the birth of the matchless Samuel Clemens, who wrote under the pen name Mark Twain. His genius lay in his distinctive ability to convey profound wisdom and profane wit in the same breath. Here, in tribute to the man Faulkner called the “father of American literature,” are 10 quotes from Mark Twain.
1. A recipe for contentment
"Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
2. True wisdom
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt."
3. Reading habits
"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
"To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence."
"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare."
"Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."
"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
9. Good editing
"A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it."
"Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."