"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Announcing The Oxford Mark Twain!

Exciting news this week for Twainians! Oxford University Press has announced the publication of The Oxford Mark Twain, the 29-volume centennial paperback set, edited by Shelley Fisher Fishkin.

In addition to gathering together most of the writings ever published by Twain in the U.S., the set features forewords from literary luminaries such as Kurt Vonnegut, E. L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison, and Ursula Le Guin, as well as context-providing afterwords by noteworthy Twain scholars.

At the heart of each volume is a facsimile edition of Twain's original, which captures its contemporary flavor. Many include original illustrations which suggest the life and times of the books in a way that other editions cannot. This is a remarkable offering for Twain completists everywhere.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sam...

In honor of this, the 174th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, I present to you this rare motion picture footage of Twain at his Redding, Connecticut estate with daughters Clara and Jean. It was taken by Thomas Edison in 1909, a year before Twain's death. Enjoy...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Download Original Mark Twain Letters!

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County now has a very rare and amazing offering for all of us lovers of all things Sam Clemens. A total of seven personal letters written by Twain himself are now on display, and are available to be read and downloaded at the library's website.

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

A Classic Clip from Hal Holbrook's 1967 "Mark Twain Tonight"

An amazing and highly amusing tidbit from Holbrook's landmark TV special. Might this have been even somewhat what it was like to witness the master at work?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Washington Post's Yardley Reasses Connecticut Yankee

Being a Connecticut Yankee myself, I was very pleased to read the excellent discussion of Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court earlier this week in the Washington Post. The Post's Jonathan Yardley takes an extended look at the sometimes neglected Twain classic:

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

Archeaological Dig Resumes at Farm of Twain's Uncle

Last year, I reported of the archaeological excavation that had been taking place at the Florida, Missouri farm of Mark Twain's uncle John Quarles. And now, the Hannibal Courier-Post reports that the digging will once again be resuming on Saturdays of this month.

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

Scholars and Fans Converge in Elmira

Earlier this month, lovers and students of Twain's work met in Elmira, New York, the town in which Twain and his family are buried, for the sixth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College.

Here's a link to a terrific video on the conference, courtesy of WENY-TV:


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Which Mark Twin Character Are You?

Cindy Lovell of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri has created an extremely fun Facebook application, and for a very good cause.

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.

Which Mark Twain character are you? - Hannibal, MO - Hannibal Courier-Post

Which Mark Twain character are you? - Hannibal, MO - Hannibal Courier-Post

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July from Following the Equator

"We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and we glorious Americans will occasionally astonish the God that created us when we get a fair start."
- "The Bolters in Convention," Territorial Enterprise, 12/30/1863

"We are called the nation of inventors. And we are. We could still claim that title and wear its loftiest honors if we had stopped with the first thing we ever invented, which was human liberty."
- Foreign Critics speech, 1890

"The average American may not know who his grandfather was. But the American was, however, one degree better off than the average Frenchman who, as a rule, was in considerable doubt as to who his father was."

- quoted in "Stories of Mark Twain," C. D. Williard, Pacific Outlook, 4/30/1910

Monday, June 29, 2009

Remembering Jean Clemens

"There was never a kinder heart than Jean's. From her childhood up she always spent the most of her allowance on charities of one kind and another. After she became secretary and had her income doubled she spent her money upon these things with a free hand. Mine too, I am glad and grateful to say."
--Mark Twain, "The Death of Jean"

Yesterday in the Hartford Courant, I came across an excellent article commemorating the life of Sam Clemens' youngest daughter, and the last he saw die in his lifetime. It's an excellent piece on a sad, yet inspiring young woman who struggled with epilepsy all her life, and held a very special place in her famous father's heart.

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

Twain Museum Offering Writers' Workshops

If you happen to be in the area of Hannibal, Missouri, or if you're up for a trip, you might want to look up the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, which will be offering adult writers' workshops, according to the Hannibal Courier-Post.

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.