Often cited as the father of American literature, Mark Twain used his fantastic wit to not only amuse his audience, but to get them thinking. Best known for novels, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin, his literary work is compelling and innovative for its use of dialect. More than that, Mark Twain has been widely quoted because his mixture of humor and common sense made people acutely aware of their faults without inspiring insult. Basically, he was a master at making people laugh at their own short-comings.

“I have never let schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain

Outside of his obvious brilliance in writing, Twain often reminded people that no person was better than the other due to position or class. Quotes such as the one above are tongue-in-cheek, but true to his life’s message – there is as much to learn in the common as there is in what the world calls “great”. His dialect in novels reflects his belief that the vernacular does not make the intellect, often the least educated of his characters were the most morally and intellectually superior.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

Most of his often repeated quotes give sage advice on dealing with the pettiness of human nature, and overcoming its ability to diminish your own life. Twain was often sarcastic and faced his life and his work with a sense of wit that made even the pessimistic heart get at least a bit of a chuckle.

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” – Mark Twain

Twain had little affection for entitlement or any belief that one person was better than another and he often stated his frustrations with a joke or one-line sure to inspire laughter, even as it made people laugh at themselves.

His life’s works often battled such heavy issues as racism. In a time when his views were seen as unpopular, he never wavered and still managed to maintain unprecedented success as an author with a message that was important to his beliefs and the world’s changing moral compass. His larger than life persona is only eclipsed by the importance of his intellectual impact on fiction, and the world at large.

From Twain, we can all take the lesson of never taking ourselves or, more importantly, never taking others’ opinions of ourselves so seriously. Or, as Twain so eloquently said:

“Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.” – Mark Twain