The Literary Nightmare

November 3, 2023

“The Literary Nightmare” is a short, satirical essay by Mark Twain in which he recounts a whimsical dream he had. In this dream, Twain finds himself in a topsy-turvy literary world where he encounters a series of absurd and comical situations. 

In his dream, Twain interacts with eccentric characters, including authors who have lost their own identities and can’t remember what they have written. The dream also features books coming to life, and characters from literature stepping out of their stories to engage in wild and irrational behavior.

Mark Twain uses this dream as a vehicle to humorously satirize the publishing and literary world of his time. Through his dream narrative, he offers a lighthearted commentary on the complexities and idiosyncrasies of the writing and publishing industry in the 19th century. Twain’s wit and humor shine as he playfully highlights the absurdities and challenges that authors and publishers faced during this era.