Abstract

A surprising number of Mark Twain's texts include inheritance as a plot point and sometimes as a major premise, such as in The Gilded Age where he converted his family's disappointment about the Tennessee land into the engine of his first major work of fiction. This essay will discuss how a number of these texts project a skeptical attitude, even a satirical perspective, about how intergenerational wealth functions and how it affects the behavior of those who anticipate an inheritance. In so doing, Twain's writings about inheritance show how property rights rely on various discourses as the often-shaky building blocks of hereditary claims.

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