Books for the News

Samuel Clemens Centenary

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Today marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, pen name Mark Twain. And as this article in the Guardian points out despite Clemens’ “1896 dictum that ‘What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light'” many are marking the 100th anniversary of his death—including well, us I guess, and also Sotheby’s auction house in New York where an unpublished 64 page manuscript of an intimate account of Clemens’ family life titled “A Family Sketch” will be up for bidding today.
According to the Guardian, the memoir, “written shortly after Twain’s eldest daughter died of meningitis in 1896, is expected to sell for $120,000 to $180,000.” It doesn’t appear there are any plans on publishing the manuscript so if you can’t afford the six figure ticket you will have to skip on this autobiographical account of Clemens’ life for now, but you can of course always pick up the next best thing.
Renowned Twain scholar Hamlin Hill’s biography Mark Twain: God’s Fool digs through many of the myths surrounding Clemens’ personal life to reveal a surprisingly frustrated writer plagued by paranoia. As Hill reveals, despite Twain the author’s beloved depictions of nineteenth-century American life, Clemens’ the man suffered personal tragedies, got involved in questionable business ventures, and was a demanding and controlling father and husband. As Mark Twain: God’s Fool demonstrates, the difficult circumstances of Twain’s personal life make his humorous output all the more surprising and admirable.