The Gilded Age, Part 2.
Charles Dudley Warner
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The term gilded age commonly given to the era comes from the title of this book. Twain and Warner got the name from Shakespeare's King John (1595), To gild refined gold, to paint the lily… is wasteful and ridiculous excess. Gilding a lily, which is already beautiful and not in need of further adornment, is excessive and wasteful, characteristics of the age Twain and Warner wrote about in their novel. Another interpretation of the title, of course, is the contrast between an ideal Golden Age and a less worthy Gilded Age, as gilding is only a thin layer of gold over baser metal so the title now takes on a pejorative meaning as to the novel's time events and people.