Monday, November 30, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Ranging from 1870 to 1903, the letters are in Twain's own handwriting, to a variety of different recipients. They can be viewed at the website, and downloaded in full-color, PDF format. This is a unique opportunity, and one I suggest you take advantage of.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
For most of the way, "Connecticut Yankee" is a wonderfully funny and wildly improbable romp through Arthurian England, but toward the end it turns dark, with a bloody massacre that, as Justin Kaplan suggests in his introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, reflects Twain's own disenchantment with the mechanized modern world for which he had once held such high hopes. We now know, from the convenient vantage point of hindsight, that the darkness that had descended upon Twain never really lifted, and his writing became more eccentric and even angry as he railed against Christianity, despotism, humanity itself and anything else that aroused his considerable capacity for invective.
For more of this fascinating analysis, I encourage you to read the rest of the article right here.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The farm, which Twain once called, "a heavenly place for a boy," is now owned by a Karen Hunt, who has been granting permission for the digs on and off for the past two years. Conducting by small teams of volunteers, the digs have thus far yielded items such as dishes, marbles and square nails.
Hunt tells the Courier-Post that her eventual plan is to turn the farm into a historical tourist attraction.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Here's a link to a terrific video on the conference, courtesy of WENY-TV:
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Writing for the Hannibal Courier-Post, Lovell talks about using the quiz to help raise awareness for the financial dire straits the museum is currently in. You know how those FB quizzes work--by answering a series of question, you can determine which character you are most like. Are you Huck or Jim? Take this quiz and find out!
Log into Facebook and check under quizzes to find this one. It's a lot of fun, and supports a worthy cause. For more info on the museum, go to MarkTwainMuseum.org.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
After her infamous death in the bathtub of Twain's own Redding, Connecticut home on Christmas Eve 1909, the author was so broken up that he could not even attend the funeral, instead opting to morosely watch the hearse leave for the burial in Elmira, New York. Within a year's time, the heartbroken Twain himself would also be dead.
I encourage all to check out the superb article by Susan Campbell right here.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
The workshops will take place throughout the fall, and will be run by Dr. Cindy Lovell, the museum's executive director. Naturally, a large part of the contents of the workshop will be drawn from Mark Twain's own advice to writers. As writing advice goes, I can't imagine it gets much more reliable than that!
“We’ll begin with these one-day workshops and see if there is an interest in expanding them into something like a writers’ weekend at some point,” Lovell said. “For now it will be fun to use Mark Twain’s writing advice as a jumping off point for writers. It will be fun.”
For more information on the where, when and how, check out the official website of the Mark Twain Museum.
Friday, June 5, 2009
You may believe that much is known about America’s finest philosopher. But the sage of Concord has an imaginative side unrevealed until now. This work of historical fiction by Phil Gates takes you into his mysterious world, and into his contemplative walks to Walden Pond where he encountered Henry Thoreau, the frog he mentored toward self-realization and, ultimately, ascension.
Gates sets his novel in the middle of the Civil War while the explosive energy of westward expansion moves at a frenzied pace. The story of a perilous cross-country journey to California’s gold fields in 1863 is a rambunctious and delightful saga. Its tapestry includes the movers and shakers of the 19th century—the politicians, preachers, soldiers, trappers, charlatans and poets. It leads us to inquire and perhaps to answer life’s fundamental question: Who am I?
It would be a shame to miss this adventure.
Friday, May 29, 2009
It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spreads of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpouring of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.
It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.
Sunday morning came-next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their faces alight with material dreams-visions of a stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!-then home from the war, bronzed heros, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation -- "God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!"
Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was that an ever--merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory -
An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there, waiting.
With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal,"Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"
The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said
"I come from the Throne-bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd and grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import-that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of-except he pause and think.
"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of His Who hearth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this-keep it in mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
"You have heard your servant's prayer-the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it-that part which the pastor, and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory-must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle-be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it-for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I promise a full review once I get my hands on my very own copy. In the meantime, if any intrepid reader/publisher sees fit to send me a complementary copy, be my guest!!
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Workers have been rebuilding the statue, situated at the foot of Hannibal's Cardiff Hill. The new foundation, begun in January, is now complete, and all that remains is the landscaping. The re-dedication ceremony is expected later this month, most likely over the Memorial Day weekend.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Hartford mayor Eddie Perez told Channel 3 that he has considered proposing a Hartford stimulus project as a way of protecting the Twain House from future financial ruin. A total of $640 million in stimulus funds have been given to Connecticut, with a large portion obviously going to public works and infrastructure. But Perez and others also hope that a portion of it can be diverted to arts-related projects like the Twain House, as well.
Meanwhile, the Twain House is also waiting to hear back on the status of its recent application for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has called Carson City on the carpet for the money it has contributed for the maintenance of the 145-year-old church and its more modern, adjacent counterpart. Should the payments continue, the group has threatened to sue.
The city paid $78,800 to the church for sidewalks, landscaping and roof repairs last February. In 2006, the city gave $67,700 to help with design costs for the new church. City officials claim the money is not intended to defy church/state separation, but rather is being given for the preservation of a Nevada landmark.
While working as a newspaper man in the territory in his 20s, Clemens supported the construction of the church by raising approximately $200 (about $2,2oo in today's money) charging admission to his roast of Nevada's elected officials in January 1864.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Brinegar served under Richard Nixon, and is best remembered for instituting the 55 m.p.h. speed limit during the oil crisis of the mid 1970s. A lifelong oil man, as a hobby Brinegar indulged in a passion for Mark Twain throughout his life, collecting Twain memorabilia and first editions. He was also responsible for conclusively refuting the attribution of a collection of letters that had previously been credited to Twain.
Elmira College awarded Brinegar an honorary doctorate in 1997 for his work on Twain research. In lieu of services, his family is instead requesting contributions to either the college's Mark Twain Studies Center, or the Mark Twain House in Hartford.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Could be very interesting, although I admit I'm not at all a fan of the "historical dramatizations" employed these days by documentarians.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
"While [the 124th anniversary of the the publication of Huck Finn] passed with little fanfare, we should not forget the incredible contributions Mark Twain made to American literature," said Dodd in a press release.
The price of the coin would be the going cost of an ounce of gold or silver, plus ten dollars, which, in the case of gold, comes to a whopping $955. The proceeds would go towards the support of Twain-related landmarks, such as the recently beleaguered Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut. A Mark Twain commemorative coin was minted once before, back in 1981.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The exhibit, entitled "Imprint: From Walden to Graceland, 200 Years of Asian Spiritual Traditions in Western Thought", contains Asian volumes from the likes of Henry David Thoreau, Elvis Presley and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Twain's contribution is the 1889 book Aryan Sun-Myths: The Origins of Religions.
Best of all, the book actually contains some of Twain's own hand-written notes in the margins, such as this gem on the nature of "saviors" throughout history: "I feel an honest reverence [for saviors] … I was only meaning to slur those liars their followers."
Monday, February 16, 2009
If you proceed to his blog, you can check out the table of contents of the book, as well as Kick's own eloquent review. Of particular interest to me was ol' Sam's skewering of one of the canon's most overrated writers, Ms. Jane Austen.
Friday, February 6, 2009
After reports surfaced last year that the former home of the Clemens family was woefully in debt due to an overambitious renovation project, word got out in the news and several high-profile fund-raising efforts got underway.
And now, because of those efforts, the House actually made a profit when the book was finally closed on the fiscal year last weekend. Its operating deficit of $400,000 has been paid off, and that's without even tapping into a $500,000 Annenberg Foundation grant. That grant will be used to kickstart a new $1.5 million Stabilization and Planning Fund, intended to support operations and future fund-raising initiatives.
So it looks like the Mark Twain House has sidestepped financial calamity. If only Twain himself could've done so when he lived there!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Apparently, the piece ties into an event being put on by the Tuolumne County Historical Society at the Sonora Library this Friday night. Actor Pat Kaunert will portray Twain, and the book Mark Twain's Sojourn in Tuolumne County will be available for purchase. I encourage all to check out the article here.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
It's very sad that the so-called controversy still rages on after so many years, but apparently, it still does. Foley claims that he is tired of having to rationalize the book to offended students and parents, yet still claims to be "passionate" about it. Oh yeah, and he also wants To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men dropped from the curriculum as well, because of their repeated use of the word "nigger", and their supposed demeaning depiction of African Americans as "ignorant".
How unfortunate that these sentiments would be coming from an educator, and that that educator would be using the historic election of Barack Obama--which Twain himself would more than likely have welcomed joyously--as a justification for the abandonment of Twain's greatest work. That a man who claims to be "passionate" about the novel is unable to comprehend its true message and the means to bestow that message upon his students. All he sees is that word, regardless of context and meaning. Now that's ignorant.
Want to find a demeaning use of the word "nigger"? Try listening to some of the music that those very high school students he's trying to "protect" are listening to on their iPods.
Foley's editorial was met with a largely negative response by readers of the Post-Intelligencer, as well as fellow educators. That, at least, I can take solace in. For the entire report, go here.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Specifically, Holbrook has played Twain for 55 years, since his first 1954 performance at Pennsylvania's Lock Haven State Teachers College. Clemens only used the Twain pen name for the last 47 years of his life.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Sloan's endowment will allow the University library to purchase literature by and about Twain. The businessman, who previously created a room in the library in honor of Albert Schweitzer, said that Twain, "is a prime example of literary genius in American history." Make that the prime example, Mr. Sloan!
Friday, January 9, 2009
Monday, January 5, 2009
"Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever."
"New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody, save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions."