Abstract

Mark Twain's engagement with the “infernal phraseology of the law” spanned his career: from his sketches in Virginia City to the courtroom trials of his novels. Working in the context of legal reform movements, and using his own knowledge and mastery of law and procedure, Twain's legal burlesques develop into fully dramatized narratives of humor and satire in which legal rhetoric and the vernacular act as “infernal or subversive agents” of the authority inherent in the law. Thus, at a time when Samuel Clemens began to fashion the voice of Mark Twain, he worked within the context of reform movements that would democratize and demythologize legal language.

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