By which I mean: if you’re in the United States of America, and you can find a Mark Twain quote which bolsters a point you’re trying to make, you are golden. Because somehow Twain is seen as a sort of conduit for the wisdom of the nation, a proxy for American common sense and knowhow. Nobody ever says “Mark Twain was full of shit.” You’re kind of not allowed.
I asked an British friend whether there was a British equivalent of this, whether, for instance, it was George Orwell. He said, no, in Britain, Orwell is seen as being for children, it’s not Orwell. Then he thought for a while and said, oh, no, obviously, it’s Samuel Johnson.
Agree? Disagree? Other candidates? Is there a French Mark Twain, or a Chinese one?