Category Archives: Letter ‘T’

Day 20 Nanowrimo letter ‘T’ Twain’s Stretchers

Twain’s humor

I could use this as an ‘H’ if I wasn’t well past Day 8. Can you tell me who more than Mark Twain had a knack for the subtle and overblown use of humor?

Mark Twain used exaggeration and understatement in his pieces. He even set it out downplaying it, allowing the reader to ‘get it’. That humor that will hit you after you set down the book. It can be called, dry humor.

“We ought never to do wrong when people are looking,” ~ A Double-Barrelled Detective Story.” You can read that here in


Exaggerations: Mark Twain called them “stretchers” ( lies) Twain, (Samuel Clemens) used those lies to stretch the truth, showing us the emotional truth, by exaggerating it, enlarging or overstating the truth.

Mark Twain used the understatement. Providing the reader just enough to imagine the scene, with the added surprise of the advice given.

“If at any time you find it necessary to correct your brother, do not correct him with mud—never, on any account, throw mud at him, because it will spoil his clothes. It is better to scald him a little, for then you obtain desirable results. You secure his immediate attention to the lessons you are inculcating, and at the same time your hot water will have a tendency to move impurities from his person, and possibly the skin, in spots.” ~You can find Mark Twain’s ‘Advice for Good Little Girls” written for San Francisco magazine the Youth’s Companion, June of 1865

And just enough humor to get feathers ruffled while tickling your funny bone:

“All Democrats are insane, but not one of them knows it; none but the Republicans and Mugwumps know it. All the Republicans are insane, but only the Democrats and Mugwumps can perceive it. The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane. When I look around me, I am often troubled to see how many people are mad.”

Just so you know a Mugwump is: ” a person who remains aloof or independent, especially from party politics”

Thrown for snicks and grins, Shakespeare’s humor Example:

Act 3 scene 2, As You Like It, “I was seeking for a fool when I found you.”

Henry IV, ~ “Thou art as fat as butter!”

That last one wasn’t subtle or an understatement, just a humorous simile.

Yes, I know, ‘S’ Day 19.