Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mark Twain Insult of the Day #2

Today's subject is Clemens's attorney William Hamersly, who advised him poorly in several matters, including contracts with the aforementioned Paige:

I have no feeling about him, I have no harsh words to say about him. He is a great fat good-natured, kind-hearted, chicken-livered slave; with no more pride than a tramp, no more sand than a rabbit, no more moral sense than a wax figure, and no more sex than a tape-worm. He sincerely thinks he is honest, he sincerely thinks he is honorable. It is my daily prayer to God that he be permitted to live and die in those superstitions.


Mike said...

Now, explain to me again why Twain wanted this stuff embargoed until a century after his death ...

Brian Fies said...

I haven't come across any controversial bombshells yet, but it's still early in the day. The Introduction addresses the 100-year question in some detail. In fact, Twain published many excerpts from his autobiography during his lifetime without qualms. But he had some very interesting insights into the form and purpose of autobiography--was very dissatisfied with the traditional chronological narrative and "invented" a stream-of-consciousness dictation method that he found both more honest and literary. He was obsessed with the challenge of writing an honest autobiography that didn't whitewash its subject (that is, himself), and felt he couldn't do it while worrying about the reactions of the people he wrote about or their immediate descendants. I'll see if there was any point to the embargo as I read on.