The purpose of this project is to celebrate Samuel L. Clemens' life in Redding, Connecticut by documenting and showcasing his time here in multiple formats both online and offline. Your donations & site sponsorships will help me dedicate more time to these projects and allow me to get them online sooner.

Thursday, April 7

Twain seems to have known we'd be reading his letters

Going through the MTP papers this letter caught my eye...

It is Mark Twain's letter to Joe Twichell in 1880 about his new baby daughter Jean and life in general.


"Well, we are all getting along here first-rate; Livy gains strength daily, [&] sits up a deal; the baby is five weeks old [ and—— but] no more of this;

[He stops the letter abruptly to scold someone in the 1960's reading the letter]

somebody may be reading this letter 80 years hence. And so, my friend (you pitying snob, I mean, who are holding this yellow paper in [your] hand in 1960,) save yourself the trouble of looking further; I know how pathetically trivial our small concerns [would] seem to you, [&] I will not let your eye profane them. No, I keep my news; you keep your compassion. Suffice it you to know, scoffer [&] ribald, that the little child is old [&] blind, now, [&] once more toothless; [&] the rest of us are shadows, these many, many years. Yes, [&] your time cometh!"


Twain estimates 80 years and we're still reading his letters 130 years later! And what is really wild is that we, here in 2011, can read this letter thanks to the intensive, ongoing editorial work going since the mid 1960s at the Mark Twain Papers & Project at University of California, Berkeley.

"The story of my life will make certain people sit up and take notice, but I will use my influence not to have it published until the persons mentioned in it and their children and grandchildren are dead. I tell you it will be something awful. It will be what you might call good reading."
- Twain during interview aboard SS Minneapolis, New York 06/08/1907

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