Historical background and period of realism
In American literature the period of realism (1860 - 1890) stretches from the Civil war to the turn of the century. After the Civil war United States changed quickly. The slavery was abolished, democracy increased, towns became industrialized and urbanized, the population expanded because of the immigration, and the middle-class prospered. This provided a good environment for literature and for readers who were interested in understanding all these changes. Mark Twain was (together with William Dean Howells, Rebecca Harding Davis, John W. DeForest and Henry James) a representative of this literary period. Literature during the realism presented reality very closely and was detailed. Character was usually much more important than the plot and action. Moral choices and own experience were often the subject. Characters reflected their real nature and temperament and they had a strong relation to nature, to each other, to their social class, which was important in those times.
Americans wanted to know what their country looked like, and how the different races which made up their growing population lived and talked. Emphasis was placed on realization of democracy and morality. Events were usually believable and objectivity was important. Diction was often colloquial, not poetic at all. Tone was usually comic or satiric. Realism was in contrast with previous literary period, romanticism. Realism was a reaction against romanticism. (http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/faculty/campbell/enl311/realism.htm). The purpose of writing was to entertain. Authors were pragmatic, relativistic, democratic, and experimental. Relations between people and society were explored. Authors were interested in how much society influences people. (http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap5/5intro.html).
Mark Twain's life and works
Mark Twain's real name was Samuel L. Clemens. He lived in the years 1835 - 1910. His first book was The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, but before its publication, Mark Twain worked as a...