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A Barkeeper Entering the Kingdom of Heaven

Mark Twain famously derided Jane Austen (who would have had her 238th birthday yesterday), saying (among other things) that he could not read her prose even if paid a salary to do so. But what did Twain really think about Austen's work?
posted by Jonathan Livengood on Dec 17, 2013 - 63 comments

Marginalia and Annotations online

In literature, there are two key sorts of annotations: marginalia, or the notes jotted down in the margins by the reader, and additional information formally provided in expanded editions of a text, and you can find a bit of both online. Annotated Books Online is an on-line interactive archive of early modern annotated books, where researchers can share digitized documents and collaborate on translations. For insight into a single author's notes, Melville's Marginalia provides just that. For annotations with additional information, The Thoreau Reader provides context for Walden (linked previously), The Maine Woods, and other writings. Then there's the mostly annotated edition Ulysses, analysis of Joseph Conrad's Nostromo, and the thoroughly annotated US constitution (twentieth amendment linked previously). More marginalia and annotations inside. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 14, 2013 - 6 comments

The Only Woman Caricaturist

"Mary Williams adopted the name “Kate Carew” and wrote candid, witty interviews with luminaries of the day, including Mark Twain, Pablo Picasso, and the Wright Brothers. She adorned her interviews with her unique “Carewatures,” and often drew herself into the scene. Imagine Oprah Winfrey as a liberated woman caricaturist-interviewer in 1900 and you have an idea of who Kate Carew was. -- The Comics Journal's Paul Tumey rediscovers a cartooning pioneer in the course of a review of a new book about early US comics. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 31, 2013 - 4 comments

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work

The author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a popular MetaFilter topic, was born 177 years ago today (November 30th 1835) in Missouri. The printer, riverboat pilot, game designer, journalist, lecturer, technology investor, gold miner, publisher and patent holder wrote short stories, essays, novels and non-fiction under the pen name Mark Twain. This included The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (recently adapted into a musical), one of the top five challenged books of the 1990s, published in 1884-85 to a mixed reception and with an ending that still causes debate. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Nov 30, 2012 - 42 comments

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.

"I thought the matter over, and concluded I could do it. So I went down and bought a barrel of Pond's Extract and a bicycle." "Taming The Bicycle" by Mark Twain.
posted by nowhere man on Nov 16, 2012 - 12 comments

Tom Sawyer: Fireman, Policeman, Customs Inspector, Alcoholic Superman

The Adventures of the Real Tom Sawyer " Mark Twain was nursing a bad hangover inside Ed Stahle’s fashionable Montgomery Street steam rooms, halfway through a two-month visit to San Francisco that would ultimately stretch to three years. At the baths he played penny ante with Stahle, the proprietor, and Tom Sawyer, the recently appointed customs inspector, volunteer fireman, special policeman and bona fide local hero."
posted by artof.mulata on Sep 24, 2012 - 21 comments

Beneath the Planet of the Twains

Two months ago, writer/humorist/TV personality/podcast judge/deranged millionaire John Hodgman was inspired to commission a work of art from the internet. On January 20th, 2012 Hodgman's impossible dream became reality: Presenting Dana Gould as Doctor Zaius as Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain.
posted by Strange Interlude on Feb 10, 2012 - 26 comments

The Fear You Can Hear

The CBS Radio Mystery Theater aired weeknights from 1974 to 1982. Here are all 1,399 original episodes , free to stream or download. [more inside]
posted by timsteil on Oct 27, 2011 - 39 comments

Mark Twain's Advice To Little Girls

[Mark Twain] did not squat down to be heard and understood by children, but asked them to stand on their tiptoes—to absorb the kind of language and humor suitable for adults.
posted by Fiasco da Gama on Jul 15, 2011 - 21 comments

In the country of blinds, the one eyed men are kings.

"English As She Is Spoke is a broken Portuguese-to-English phrasebook written by two translators, José da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino. Sort of. You see, in reality, translator Pedro Carolino wanted to create a phrasebook on his own. Not knowing English, he took José da Fonseca’s French-to-English phrasebook and then used a Portuguese-to-French phrasebook to translate that. It’s sort of like what you and your friends do on Google Translate, but with a poor, mislead Portuguese man doing it by hand in candlelight." [more inside]
posted by item on Apr 18, 2011 - 52 comments

Chabon blogs

Michael Chabon is currently blogging about President Obama's Arizona speech, Huck Finn, the return of hip-hop to his life, and his hometown.
posted by AceRock on Jan 13, 2011 - 42 comments

Politically Correct Huck

"He was a mighty good nigger [sic, recte slave], Jim was." [more inside]
posted by ericost on Jan 4, 2011 - 210 comments

Leci n'est pas une pipe

Ever wanted to start smoking a tobacco pipe? Begin by selecting from the many types of pipes available. Next, choose a tobacco type and flavor. Pipe smoking has a long and storied history- many a famous man, woman, or fictional character would not be parted from his or her pipe (link slightly NSFW). Pipes in art. Books about pipes. And of course, there is widely varying opinion on just how healthy pipe smoking isn't.
posted by nzero on Dec 1, 2010 - 111 comments

We as a nation retain our sense of humor.

The Thirteenth Annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American humor was awarded to Tina Fey. Here is video of the PBS broadcast of the awards ceremony as well as Ms. Fey's complete acceptance speech.
posted by West of House on Nov 16, 2010 - 78 comments

"He was capable of composing entire paragraphs in his head."

"He was capable of composing entire paragraphs in his head." Mark Twain's dictated autobiography available now, 100 years after his death, per his request.
posted by AugieAugustus on Nov 16, 2010 - 33 comments

"Shall I Learn to Be Good?" — This is Mark Twain

This is Mark Twain. In preparation for the long awaited release of the uncensored Autobiography of Mark Twain *, the University of California Press and the Bancroft Library * have put together an informative site about Twain's life. It features two interactive timelines (one in chronological order and one using the order of events as written in the autobiography) with audio excerpts from the autobiography, video of the editors of the Twain Papers offering context, and historic images documenting his life. Also on the site, though confusingly linked as "more about the autobiography", is a short documentary about the Twain archives at the Bancroft. Worth a visit at the very least for this image of Sexy Sam. Uncensored indeed.
posted by Toekneesan on Oct 8, 2010 - 14 comments

The books are gravy

i wanted to call him up and tell him his notes are funny, but then i realized he DIED A MONTH AGO. bummer. Craig Fehrman traces the post-mortem dispersion of writers' personal libraries: in particular, David Markson's personal library and the way in which his fans are using Facebook to reconstruct the range of Markson's reading.
posted by catlet on Sep 23, 2010 - 12 comments

Find the enemy, attack him, invade his land, raise hell while you’re at it.

Historically famous men and their use of pocket notebooks (spread over two pages).
posted by gman on Sep 13, 2010 - 31 comments

"... for interviewers are courteous and gentle-mannered, even when they come to destroy."

"The Interview was not a happy invention.... In the first place, the interviewer is the reverse of an inspiration, because you are afraid of him." An epic rant by Mark Twain, published for the first time this week. [more inside]
posted by ardgedee on Jul 8, 2010 - 31 comments

In order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain.

Mark Twain wrote an extensive memoir, but stipulated that it not be published until 100 years after his death. This November it will be published.
posted by borkencode on May 23, 2010 - 65 comments

I wonder if Roy has seen the President. Aunt Winifred says she does not doubt it.

About 2% of the US population died while serving in the military during the US Civil War, roughly equivalent to about six million people today. A few years after the war the best selling book at 100,000 copies was Elizabeth Stuart Phelps' The Gates Ajar, which deals mainly with heaven and what exactly happens there. Spoilers follow. [more inside]
posted by shothotbot on Jan 27, 2010 - 29 comments

You're an Idiot of the 33rd Degree

In November of 1905, an enraged Mark Twain sent this superb letter to J. H. Todd, a patent medicine salesman who had just attempted to sell bogus medicine to the author by way of a letter and leaflet delivered to his home.
posted by gman on Jan 27, 2010 - 34 comments

How to Tell a Story

How to Tell a Story. "The humorous story is strictly a work of art--high and delicate art-- and only an artist can tell it; but no art is necessary in telling the comic and the witty story; anybody can do it. The art of telling a humorous story--understand, I mean by word of mouth, not print--was created in America, and has remained at home." That Itchy Chick | You Should Have Seen The Old Man [more inside]
posted by Mike Buechel on Oct 11, 2009 - 17 comments

"She was obsessed with God. He was obsessed with her."

Mark Twain & Mary Baker Eddy, a film by Val Kilmer.
posted by hermitosis on Jul 22, 2009 - 15 comments

Over 2000 classic short stories

Over 2000 classic short stories from American Literature as well as an option to sign up for a short story of the day rss feed. Among the authors on offer are Kate Chopin, Saki, O. Henry, Louisa May Alcott, Ambrose Bierce, H. P. Lovecraft, Jack London, James Joyce, Willa Cather, Guy de Maupassant, Charles Dickens, Herman Hesse, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franz Kafka, Honoré de Balzac, Edith Warton, P. G. Wodehouse, Virginia Woolf, Langston Hughes, Leo Tolstoy, Aldous Huxley, Roald Dahl, Henry James, Katherine Mansfield and I could keep going for a while. The point is, there's over 2000 short stories in there.
posted by Kattullus on Feb 17, 2008 - 31 comments

Welcome to the to the Mysterious Stranger

The Adventures of Mark Twain. Some of you may remember this strange film from 1985 , this clip in particular.
posted by nola on Sep 30, 2007 - 45 comments

To the Person Sitting in Darkness

"The Blessings-of-Civilization Trust, wisely and cautiously administered, is a Daisy. There is more money in it, more territory, more sovereignty, and other kinds of emolument, than there is in any other game that is played. But Christendom has been playing it badly of late years, and must certainly suffer by it, in my opinion. She has been so eager to get every stake that appeared on the green cloth, that the People who Sit in Darkness have noticed it – they have noticed it, and have begun to show alarm. They have become suspicious of the Blessings of Civilization."
posted by homunculus on Jun 13, 2007 - 13 comments

The War Prayer

The War Prayer -- Mark Twain's post-humously published anti-war classic, brought to life.
posted by empath on May 28, 2007 - 17 comments

Steaks on a train

After breakfast we elected a man by the name of Walker, from Detroit, for supper. "Cannibalism in the Cars," by Mark Twain.
posted by Astro Zombie on Aug 18, 2006 - 15 comments

Mark Twain and the 21st Century

"The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them." - Mark Twain
posted by mischief on Nov 16, 2005 - 33 comments

Le fap

"He was young and handsome, his mother's hope". Yes, the scourge of Onanism has long plagued our young people, causing them no end of misery, woe, and high ISP fees.

One champion of choice, our good friend Mark Twain, delivered a stirring lecture to the Stomach Club in Paris, 1879, to defend our right to love ourselves. Bless his crusty old heart.
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies on Jun 16, 2005 - 36 comments

Prithee sirrah, pull the finger

Sometimes science has to take a back seat to art. Mark Twain's contribution to the fart joke was '1601 Conversation As it was by the Social Fireside in the Time of the Tudors', a heart-warming tale of Elizabethan intrigue and fart queens.
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies on Mar 1, 2005 - 5 comments

fwappa

Some Thoughts on the Science of Onanism by Mark Twain
posted by Pretty_Generic on Nov 7, 2004 - 10 comments

This site rocks! No more books for me!

Mark Twain on evolution: It now seems plain to me that that theory ought to be vacated in favor of a new and truer one...the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals. And, on war: Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception. Alphabetized Mark Twain quotes.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly on Jul 24, 2003 - 16 comments

Mark Twain on War and Imperialism.

Mark Twain on War and Imperialism. A collection of Twain's satirical writings on imperialism and the Philippine-American War, including his famous "To the Person Sitting in Darkness" and "The War Prayer" (the later was previously discussed here.)
posted by homunculus on Feb 16, 2003 - 8 comments

What Mark Twain Didn't Say

What Mark Twain Didn't Say
posted by archimago on Oct 16, 2002 - 30 comments

Mark Twain: A Film Directed by Ken Burns

Mark Twain: A Film Directed by Ken Burns started on PBS tonite, on my local station. I know we have discussed Mark Twain's writting before, but I found this as I was looking for other sources about Twain. What do you think? Was he racist or was he trying to expose racist thinking? Or just weaving a good story?
posted by bjgeiger on Jan 14, 2002 - 15 comments

Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan... Mark Twain?

Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan... Mark Twain? I thought nothing else could increase my admiration of Twain but it turns out he sang and played guitar to newspapermen, miners, women (hmm), tourists... No recordings are known to exist. He's my all-time favorite wise guy and rebel!
posted by mmarcos on Nov 1, 2001 - 1 comment

A Little Light Relief - and Brush Up Your English While You're At It.

A Little Light Relief - and Brush Up Your English While You're At It. In the spirit of poking fun at one's own flesh and blood - and respecting all those who aren't - I offer the most appalling tribute to Shakespeare's and Emerson's language since time itself began. I give you, ladies and gentlemen, the great Portuguese scholar Pedro Carolino, whose "English As She Is Spoke" Mark Twain considered to be the funniest book ever written. Start with "Familiar Dialogues 1" and, if you've still been able to keep a straight face, try "Idiotisms and Proverbs" for the full effect... (Thanks to Ganz's Humor Page)
posted by MiguelCardoso on Sep 20, 2001 - 19 comments

The War Prayer,

The War Prayer, by Mark Twain. I always like running across this kind of unpublished Twain gem. He's absolutely amazing at making his readers think. [via boingboing]
posted by swell on Sep 14, 2001 - 5 comments

Mark Twain - Back from the Dead!

Mark Twain - Back from the Dead! I just caught this on the Jim Lehrer News Hour. The tale behind the tale A Murder, A Mystery, and A Marriage. A complete, unpublished manuscript of Mark Twain has surfaced, and after 125 years will finally find its way to the pages of the Atlantic Monthly this summer.
posted by ZachsMind on Jun 25, 2001 - 16 comments

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