Monday, December 6, 2010
An Autobiographical Stroll
Happy Monday morning, dear Twain fans and readers!
This past week was a hootananny here at The Mark Twain House & Museum-- we celebrated Sam's 175th birthday with a Party on the Mississippi, wrapped up our Nook Farm Book Club with a discussion of The Diaries of Adam & Eve, brainstormed about nonfiction in this week's writer's workshop, and took over 500 people through the house during our annual Friends Holiday House Tour. Whew! That was all fantastic but our staff is ready for a long winter's nap.
Luckily, this quiet morning is a fantastic time to get back to the reason we're working so hard: Twain's writing. This is one of my first opportunities to sit down and peruse the best-selling, very recently published, much buzzed about Autobiography of Mark Twain, so we can flip through some sentences together. Ready, dear readers, for a coming attraction of the book?
On the structure of the narrative: "It starts out with good confidence, but suffers the fate of its brethren-- is presently abandoned for some other and newer interest. This is not be wondered at, for its plan is the old, old, old unflexible and difficult one-- the plan that starts you at the cradle and drives you straight for the grave, with no side-excursions permitted on the way. Whereas the side-excursions are the life of our life-voyage, and should be, also, of its history."
On his family: "As I have said, the Clemens family was penniless. Orion came to the rescue."
On first meeting Helen Keller when she was fourteen years old: "Mr. Howells seated himself by Helen on the sofa and she put her fingers against his lips and he told her a story of considerable length, and you could see each detail of it pass into her mind and strike fire there and throw the flash of it into her face."
On politics: "I said that no party held the privilege of dictating to me how I should vote. That if party loyalty as a form of patriotism, I was no patriot, and that I didn't think I was much of a patriot anyway, for oftener than otherwise what the general body of Americans regarded as the patriotic course was not in accordance with my views; that if there was any valuable difference between being an American and a monarchist it lay in the theory that the American could decide for himself what is patriotic and what isn't; whereas the king could dictate the monarchist's patriotism for him..."
If you have the Autobiography, what are some of your favorite lines?
If you don't, and would like one, order it from our store-- it sells out within a few days of each new shipment, so plan ahead for the holidays if you'd like one.
Otherwise, let's hear what you think!
- Julia Pistell
The Mark Twain House & Museum