Beloved by millions, Mark Twain is the quintessential American writer. More than anyone else, his blend of scepticism, caustic wit and sharp prose defines a certain American mythos. While his novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is still taught to anyone who attends school and is considered by many to be the Great American Novel, Twain's shorter stories and criticisms have unequalled style and bite.
In a review that's less than kind to the writing of James Fenimore Cooper, Twain writes: "Every time a Cooper person is in peril, and absolute silence is worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a dry twig. There may be a hundred handier things to step on, but that wouldn't satisfy Cooper. Cooper requires him to turn out and find a dry twig; and if he can't do it, go and borrow one." It's difficult to imagine anyone else writing in quite this style, which is why Twain's legacy only continues to grow.