Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mark Twain, from a great height, gets the very last laugh on the Gilded Age

Dinner held for Clemens, December 1900 (photo courtesy

The Autobiography of Mark Twain receives the deluxe treatment this fall: the first volume of the three-volume, unexpurgated work of half-a-million words will be published by the University of California Press on November 15. Over the years the Autobiography has been issued in many edited forms. This is the first time the full work will be available as Twain dictated it in the last years of his life.

Not that there's still any lack of controversy with Mr. Clemens safely at rest in Elmira, New York. Vain Twain is a contemporary site that rips the veil off of Twain's still-scandalous religious views, and is worth a browse: The Contradictory Anti-Christian Attacks of the Narcissist and Freemason, Mark Twain. Here's a photo, courtesy of Vain Twain with caption, of "the ingrate" Mr. Twain striking sparks with the "anti-social narcissist," Nikola Tesla.

"The ingrate Mark Twain, enjoying the incredible technology that God allowed Tesla, an anti-social narcissist, to create." (photo and caption courtesy Vain Twain)

Clemens was a writer as concerned with crafting his legacy as any novel he ever wrote, and his instructions to publish the full Autobiography one hundred years after his death indicates he certainly meant to have the very last laugh on the Gilded Age. Here is a poem featured last spring on WSKG-FM's Off the Page program website that imagines the author traveling the vast reaches of the Universe -- and sending back a telegram about conditions there.

News item (from a great height, April 21, 2010)
M Bromberg

After he was described in the Atlantic Monthly as "Mark Twain, originally of Missouri, but then of Hartford, and now ultimately of the solar system, not to say the universe ... " he took pleasure in thinking of his name floating somewhere among distant planets.

Michael Shelden, Mark Twain: Man in White (2010)

Your correspondent here reports
that Sam Clemens has laid aside his pen.
Having once arrived on Mr. Halley's comet,
the author has it by the tail again.
His surprise at this astounding feat
can not be overstated in the least;
he was quite prepared to make the journey --
but not so much deceased.

Mr. Clemens tells us he is luckily unafraid of heights,
and daily enjoys one of St. Peter's good cigars.
Until some wires can be arranged, he sends regrets
that telegrams will be less frequent from these stars.

The author is off in search of a dark saloon. Until then, I remain
your reporter and most far-flung correspondent, Twain.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Twain should meet up with Mr. Sagan. Or perhaps, to observe the social niceties, Mr. Sagan could call on Mr. Twain.

M Bromberg said...

... and together they should pay a call on Mr. Tesla to see what nebula he's creating now.

The above fore-mentioned. said...

The tirade against Twain on the Vain Twain site was priceless. I didn't realise that kind of religious zeal was being unleashed upon Twain, or that some Christians would care so much to write a rant that ended with the ever so enlightened and Christian words as: "Mark Twain is dead and his foul words will burn in Hell with him". Oh me, oh my.