August 1, 2011

#63 The Mark Twain House

The Mark Twain House

Here Mark Twain penned some of his most famous works, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. These were the happiest years of his life, living here with his wife and three daughters, and here Sam Clemens (according to our guide) created the character called Mark Twain.

-Amen, Mr. Clemens







Our guide was super fantastic, she was young and really enthusiastic and knowledgeable about Sam Clemens, his life and his work. She said that he and his wife would host dinner parties where he would entertain the guests with elaborate and offensive stories. His daughters would creep down from their bedrooms and sit on the stairs where they could see and hear what was going on in the dining room. Their job during these parties was to keep track of any offensive words used, or any breaches in manners and signal their mother. Olivia would then work a key word into conversation to alert her husband that he had crossed the line. According to our guide, he delighted in being as offensive as possible without actually offending anyone.





I also learned that he was extremely outspoken in his values and political beliefs and wouldn't censor himself during discussions on topics he was passionate about. Hearing from someone who is so clearly enamored with Mark Twain and his work made me really want to re-read those high school reading assignments with a different perspective.

She ended the tour by telling us that his autobiography had been published just last year because his will contained a stipulation that it couldn't be published for 100 years. He also believed that autobiographies shouldn't be a list of chronological events or a timeline of life achievements, but instead should be stories should be told with a waterfall of memories, each memory tripping off of other recollections. She said that because of the 100 year ban and the style of autobiography, along with the number of Twain fans his autobiography was the "tickle me elmo of academia last Christmas". I love that phrase. A Lot.

And as Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."