May 23, 2010

What did Mark Twain write...

... that he insisted we wait 100 years after his death to read?

26 comments:

Paul said...

Twain was very bitter at the end of his life, after the death of his favorite daughter, financial reverses, and other disappointments, so that will probably flavor the book. Also, the quality of Twain's writing is varies greatly, ranging from the sublime "Huckleberry Finn" to utter crap like "Tom Sawyer Abroad." At a certain point he was just hacking it out for the paycheck.

GMay said...

UC Bezerkeley has the manuscript? Why do I have an uneasy feeling about that?

Seven Machos said...

Sounds trite -- a little like reading in 2110 about -- I don't know -- what Maureen Dowd thought about Facebook or some newly elected Republican from Hawaii.

Mark Twain is proof that every mediocrity has a great novel in them. I, of course, have not risen to the level of mediocrity.

reader_iam said...

"Most people think Mark Twain was a sort of genteel Victorian. ... "

They DO? WTF? To Ann Althouse and every commenter here and every lurker, for that matter: This is one of the weirdest things, to and for me, I've ever read on Althouse or by virtue of following a thread from Althouse.

Wow. When you least expect to be smacked over the head with
"startlement," expect it.

wv: mindab

Well, hell yeah!

Steven said...

Hmm, I wonder what the copyright status is. There was a "last chance" to get old unpublished manuscripts under new, lengthy copyrights a few years ago, but parts of this have been published before . . .

Seven Machos said...

Reader -- I thought the same thing. Is it just me or is journalism just totally phoned in these days?

reader_iam said...

Oh, c'mon. Who the hell in his or her right mind could have actually read Twain and think he wouldn't have used the word "slut" or somethings akin to it in real life?

This is a revelation to me. I kid you not.

Seven Machos said...

It's one thing to say N***** Jim all the time. All the Victorians were saying that over tea and crumpets.

But slut!!!! Well! That's just beyond the pale.

reader_iam said...

Well, I'll say this for all of that: It goes a good damn long way to explaining why folks don't truly get this satirical quote from Mr. Dooley: Th' newspaper does ivrything f'r us. It…comforts th' afflicted, afflicts th' comfortable, buries th' dead an' roasts thim aftherward.

ABP said...

Is this a continuation of the lazy journalism theme? The part about Mark Twain being a genteel Victorian struck me as well.

Jason (the commenter) said...

They said that only about half of the manuscript is new material. The family has already gone against Twain's wishes and let people publish whatever bits they wanted. With that in mind, I'd assume the good stuff has already been used and what's left is a bunch of junk (it's an unedited manuscript). I doubt it's going to be up there with Letters From The Earth.

edutcher said...

Mark Twain's popularity rested in large part on his wit. When you read that he called his lady friend in his later years a slut, one gets the impression he had changed a great deal from the days when his wife and all his family were alive.

Paul is right about Twain's later years and it's probably true he got very sour on life in the same way as Red Skelton and Howard Cosell.

And GMay had the same thought as I did when I saw Berkeley is going to do the first read - where they will read a lot of their own prejudices and wishful thinking into it.

Moira Breen said...

ABP: Is this a continuation of the lazy journalism theme? The part about Mark Twain being a genteel Victorian struck me as well.

I think it's a step beyond "lazy journalism". The quote was from someone who'd written a book about an episode of MT's life, and is just a particularly idiotic sample of that "most/many people/experts" tick that in this case indicates, I think, not so much laziness, as that the writer's "education" was probably one long exposure to the cartoon propaganda that is modern schooling. The daffy "genteel Mark Twain" notion is a predictable consequence of having absorbed the cartoon unit about the Victorians.

Fred4Pres said...

It is probably not boring. At least I hope not.

Brian Hancock said...

I think a Twain unfiltered will be pretty damn interesting. I'm sure I'll miss some of his references

paul a'barge said...

You can pre-order it on Amazon.com now.

I did the click thing ...

http://www.amazon.com/Autobiography-Mark-Twain-Vol-1/dp/0520267192/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274714323&sr=1-3

traditionalguy said...

Twain was as funny as any writer you can name. He mixed real life experiences with thousands of people from many walks of life with a humerous story teller's skill that makes Johnny Carson seem like an amateur. So he made so many people happy, that I cannot begrudge him a cynical side after living in Connecticut a while, where their top people even fake serving in the USMC in combat. Bitter is a real emotion faced with those scumbags.

howzerdo said...

Can't wait! I have read all the other excerpts of his autiobiography. LOL funny in many places. Mediocre and crap do not apply to Twain. Even his lesser efforts are pretty good.

As the article mentions, scholars disagree on why he wanted to wait 100 years, but judging by the remarks of the editors of the volumes that already have been published (when his middle daughter was still alive), it sounds as if he didn't want to hurt his family. So what is left was probably material that offended Clara or that she felt would hurt the feelings of friends or would harm his reputation.

On the other hand, Twain knew how to set up a joke, and as Dr. Hirst in the article is quoted: "he was certainly a man who knew how to make people want to buy a book." So who knows? This is like a gift to his future fans.

William said...

He would let his wife edit offensive words from his books. That's pretty genteel and Victorian....Any diatribes against religion or admissions of love affairs will not have much shock value. Being a horny atheist isn't as flashy as it used to be. Perhaps he will admit to have written most of Grant's memoirs.

Trooper York said...

The only thing worse than a journalist is a lawyer.

They are without exception lazy, lying sacks of shit.

Trooper York said...

When you think of journalist two words should come to mind:

Ted Baxter.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cedarford said...

That is great news. I didn't know it was out there in a sort of legal time capsule to delay it 100 years.
Maybe a great idea, because writers who write honestly about what they see inevitably leave friends and acquaintences that thought they were on good terms feeling betrayed. If published while the author is living (Capote an infamous example) or shortly after death. Insights into others, unfiltered, can be painful.
Maybe the decent thing to do is wait. I'd thing 20 years is enough, but 100 sure did the trick. Absolutely no one who personally knew him can be offended.
Sad to hear he has no living relatives.
The Autobiography will have great value, not just on the man and his thoughts and works - but Twain was also in the center of that major literary world at the time that knew all the figures. He travelled internationally, wrote much about that, the cultural and political aspects of that world - perhaps has more to say.

Christy said...

I do hope he left an offering in the gene pool as a young man, and simply has no acknowledged heirs.

dick said...

I had read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn while still in grade school and again in high school. When I was in college I read Roughing It, his essays on life out west when he was young and that got me started in reading every one of his books I could find. What a treasure trove of good stuff he wrote. Even his mediocre stuff was better than most writer's best. Cannot wait for this to come out.

The Crack Emcee said...

"There is no God."

-Mark Twain

I betcha.