Session 1 April 4: "The proverb says that Providence protects children and idiots. This is really true. I know it because I have tested it." - Mark Twain
How much of the Mark Twain we think we know is the reflection of his childhood experiences? From his premature birth, Twain was his mother's favorite while his relatively indifferent father failed repeatedly at business ventures to "make the family fortune." After briefly trying his hand at war, Twain escaped to the Great Far West, that undisciplined and rowdy fertile ground from which he was to harvest material for the rest of his life. Here he was "discovered" through his newspaper columns.
"The Private History of a Campaign that Failed" - Twain 1885
"A True Story" - Twain 1874
"How I Edited an Agricultural Paper Once" - Twain 1870
"Jim Smiley and his Jumping Frog" - Twain 1865
Session 2 April 11: "If it can be proved that my fame reaches to Neptune and Saturn, that will satisfy me." - Mark Twain
What makes a great American novel? Ernest Hemingway was convinced that whatever the key was, Twain had achieved it in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). This novel, together with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), mark the zenith of Twain's literary acclaim. Much has been made of the influence on Twain by his wife, Livy, and their life together. She was his muse as well as his lover, a devoted wife and mother to his children. During this period he achieved fame, love and respectability.
"The $30,000 Bequest" - Twain 1906
"The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg" - Twain 1899
"The Story of the Bad Little Boy Who Didn't Come to Grief" - Twain 1865
"The Story of Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper" - Twain 1870
"The Stolen White Elephant" - Twain 1882
Session 3 April 18: "Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes, and wishes he was certain." - Mark Twain
Twain's was a far-reaching imagination, creating works that defy classification. Throughout his life, however, Twain grappled with the concept of religion and the reality of God. He was fascinated by science, and one of his writings (an unfinished novella entitled "The Great Dark") had serious promise as a work of science fiction. His musings concerning the private thoughts of Adam and Eve are among the most charming and controversial of his writings. He forbade their publication, together with a number of his more cynical writings, until well after his death.
"Letter from the Recording Angel" - Twain 1887/1889
"Extracts from Adam's Diary" - Twain 1903
"Eve's Diary" - Twain - 1905
"The Great Dark" - Twain - 1898 / 1905
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