The next Mark Twain

Mark Twain is one of my absolute favorite authors. (If I’d realized his brilliance a little earlier, I might have avoided detention in middle school.) I’ve particularly enjoyed Roughing It (including his tales of traveling through Utah (and meeting Brigham Young), setting a forest fire near Mono Lake, crunching across barely-cooled lava in Kilauea, and other amazing adventures), Letters to the Earth (with hilarious retellings of Adam and Eve’s first experiences in the world), At a Fire (satire of an etiquette book likely titled “At a Dance”, which would have indicated the order in which ladies may be asked to dance, etc.), and a dinner speech on the crazy English alphabet (don’t worry, he picked on German, too), and more.

But I never thought of being Mark Twain myself.

To promote a new book on Twain trivia, the Twainia folks are having a competition titled “I Am The Next Mark Twain.” Contestants are to read an unfinished piece by Twain (Conversations with Satan) and finish it, using up to 300 words. Entries will be judged 50% on “originality of idea/creativity” and 50% on “writing style”. Entries are due May 31. I’m immediately intrigued. Who’s in it with me?

Another interesting Twain resource: The Mark Twain Project is working to put all of Twain’s writings (including his letters) online in a central location. Not only do they provide access to the texts, but they also provide a split-pane view so you can see the original text plus edits that were made and explanatory notes side-by-side. In some cases, you can also see a scanned version of the original handwritten version (mainly for letters). (It reminds me a little of the marvelous online version of Darwin’s works.) To date, only some of his letters have been added to the archive, but they make for delightful reading, including his courtship letters to his future wife, Livy. And more is in the works!

2 of 2 people learned something from this entry.

  1. Katie said,

    April 23, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    Very cool! I, too, love Mark Twain. So much of what he wrote was written tongue-in-cheek! It would be very interesting to hear some of the entries to this contest!

  2. Terran said,

    April 27, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    Ok, I’ll bite. What’s the detention story? I thought that you were far too studious and rule-oriented to ever get in such dreadful trouble…

    I am curious about the writing challenge, though I’m not much on style emulation and I haven’t read enough Twain to have a good sense for his style. What I have read, though, I’ve enjoyed. I’ll check it out. Thanks!

  3. LS said,

    June 7, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I entered. Did anyone else?

  4. wkiri said,

    June 8, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Good for you, LS! After reading “Conversations with Satan,” I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in it. Instead of being an interesting conversation with Satan, it turned into a rant about cigars. I was left uninspired and decided not to enter. But best of luck to you!

Post a Comment

I knew this already. I learned something new!