Saturday, July 10, 2010

More on the controversial Mark Twain autobiography

Ed here: It'll be interesting to see how America responds to publication of a book that spits in the face of many of our most sacred beliefs, including religion and the military. If as this piece in the NY Times suggests Twain's work has a real timeliness given today's politics, I imagine we'll hear a lot about it.

Dead for a Century, Twain Says What He Meant
Published: July 9, 2010

Wry and cranky, droll and cantankerous — that’s the Mark Twain we think we know, thanks to reading “Huck Finn” and “Tom Sawyer” in high school. But in his unexpurgated autobiography, whose first volume is about to be published a century after his death, a very different Twain emerges, more pointedly political and willing to play the role of the angry prophet.

Chris Hardy for The New York Times

Whether anguishing over American military interventions abroad or delivering jabs at Wall Street tycoons, this Twain is strikingly contemporary. Though the autobiography also contains its share of homespun tales, some of its observations about American life are so acerbic — at one point Twain refers to American soldiers as “uniformed assassins” — that his heirs and editors, as well as the writer himself, feared they would damage his reputation if not withheld.

“From the first, second, third and fourth editions all sound and sane expressions of opinion must be left out,” Twain instructed them in 1906. “There may be a market for that kind of wares a century from now. There is no hurry. Wait and see.”


In popular culture today, Twain is “Colonel Sanders without the chicken, the avuncular man who told stories,” Ron Powers, the author of “Mark Twain: A Life,” said in a phone interview. “He’s been scrubbed and sanitized, and his passion has been kind of forgotten in all these long decades. But here he is talking to us, without any filtering at all, and what comes through that we have lost is precisely this fierce, unceasing passion.”

for the rest go here:


Evan Lewis said...

OK, now I'm really looking forward to this.

Laurie Powers said...

Me too! Thanks for posting this Ed.

Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

This sounds really good.

Jeff P said...

I'm sure that conservatives will use this as a reason to call Twain's work overrated and unimportant, much as they've done recently with "To Kill A Mockingbird".

Just like Robert E Lee is a hero, slavery shouldn't be called slavery, etc, etc.

"*Sigh* If only we could go back to the GOOD old days!"