Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Books are the Liberated Spirits of Men

I've always been fascinated by Mark Twain the author.  Now I'm wanting to get to know Samuel Clemens, the man.  Though they shared a body, I am wondering if they might have differed some, and I would love to get to know just plain Sam.

On a recent vacation we visited the Mark Twain home in Hartford, Connecticut.  It was more lavish than I could have imagined, and we learned on our tour that it was intended to be showy.  The Clemens family hobnobbed with writers and artists and wanted to not just to fit in, but to stand out.  I suppose it had a lot to do with furthering Samuel's writing career.

The Clemens family hosted elaborate dinner parties at least three times a week.  The food was extravagant, and the entertainment was delightful.  Sam often did recitations, and the girls performed plays with the aid of neighborhood children.

Harriet Beecher Stowe lived nearby.

The money for the home and the extravagant entertaining came mainly from Livy's inheritance.  Olivia Langdon Clemens was the love of Sam's life.  They had three daughters.  They traveled extensively and lived in Europe for extended periods of time.

The home boasted elaborate and expensive furnishings imported from far away places like Venice and Scotland.  The walls were hand stenciled, and there is a glorious atrium attached to a comfortable and fabulous library.  The 11,000 square foot home has a large kitchen and indoor plumbing which was uncommon for the day.

I wonder what I would do if I had loads of money.  Would I want a showy home and servants where I could host extravagant dinner parties.  Not likely.  I wonder how much it did to influence Sam's career. 

Like other authors at the time, Mark Twain was opposed to slavery and helped to shape public opinion through his writing.  I have always loved Tom Sawyer, but I confess that I don't remember reading Huckleberry Finn.  I plan to read it sometime soon. 

Mark Twain's pithy sense of humor comes through loud and clear in the quotes we have often heard.  Here are a few of my favorites. 

Nothing needs so reforming as other people's habits.

Always do right.  This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.

Books are the liberated spirits of men.

An uneasy conscience is a hair in the mouth.

If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.

A full belly is of little worth where the mind is starved.

What's your favorite Mark Twain quote?

Linda Garner

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