Monday, May 24, 2010

Mark Twain: Still Crazy After All These Years

Thomas Sowell said there were only two ways to tell the truth, anonymously or posthumously.

Never one for anonymity, Mark Twain chose the latter.

When Twain died he left behind a 5,000-page, unedited autobiography and a note saying it was not to be published for at least a century after his death.

Twain died in 1910. That means the seventh seal will be cracking soon. The first volume of an eventual trilogy will be released by the University of California, Berkeley, where the grail is vaulted.

I will be reading this autobiography, all of it. My self-inflicted limit on book length be damned.

Twain was known for his candor in life. Can you imagine what thoughts he needed to let stew for a century before they could be served?

While the salacious details of his relationship with former secretary Isabel Van Kleek Lyon may interest others, I just want to read about Twain being Twain. I want to know what quips, tidbits and quotable blog fodder he ensconced in this autobiography.

On an unrelated note, Stephen Fry will judge the Guardian Hay festival’s Twitter competition.

While I still have some misgivings toward Twitter (how it’s used, not the platform itself), I think a Twitter competition is positively democratic.

In the words of festival director Peter Florence, “It’s a little jolly and a leveller. We can all write tweets but not all of us can write poems or novels.”

Nominations for the most beautiful tweet must be posted @hayfestival. The winner will be announced June 6.

I will be nominating something from @FEMINISTHULK.

Finally, Christopher Hitchens answers the Proust Questionnaire.

-Jason Lea,

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