Why the Mississippi River Inspires Great Literature - Mississippi Farm Country

Why the Mississippi River Inspires Great Literature

This majestic body of water has inspired authors throughout the ages, prompting great works of art such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Photo credit: istock.com/wsfurlan

Arguably, the state’s biggest claim to fame, the Mississippi River, is inextricably embedded into the history of the early United States. This body of water has inspired many great writers and poets who have gone on to canonize it in American literature.
Immediate titles that come to mind are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Indeed, the author is practically synonymous with the Mississippi – not just in legend but in actual name. Originally born Samuel Clemens, the author adopted the pen name Mark Twain, which was a Mississippi River term, meaning “mark number two.” (This indicated the mark on a measuring stick that determined the safe depth for a steamboat.) Working as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi at the age of 21, Twain was seemingly inspired by the Mississippi River from the very beginning of his writing career.
Of course, Twain isn’t the only author to immortalize the Mississippi River. The book Show Boat by Edna Ferber (which later became a musical) immortalizes the showboats that were integral to Mississippi culture in the early 20th century. Herman Melville also paid tribute to the Mississippi in his book The Confidence-Man, which follows a group of steamboat passengers in the 1800s. 
Even popular contemporary authors, like the acclaimed George R.R. Martin (best known for the Game of Thrones series) have written about the Mississippi River. Martin penned Fevre Dream, which follows a riverboat captain in the mid-1800s.
There’s no denying it: The Mississippi River flows through the hearts and pages of America. 

See more: Get to Know Kermit the Frog in Leland

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