In the Footsteps of
~ Around the World ~
A Lifetime Pursuit of Experiences
Mark Twain was a bigger-than-life man even when he was alive. When you read his daughter's story about him, you realize that he was the same person that we all know ~ all the time ~ not someone else with his family and someone else with us. The magical thing about him was that he allowed people inside his thoughts, and his thoughts were slightly aschew of everyone else ~ at that time.
Twain was most certainly living ahead of his time. He had that backward perspective that is usually only gained after the history is written. His gift ~ his talent ~ was the ability to express himself in writing. Story-telling on paper and using words which conveyed his mindset ~ his humor. It seems to me that he must have had his tongue lodged tightly against his cheek as he wrote down some of his pieces.
I can remember as a youth reading some his writing and thinking, "why you silly man, of course that's the way it is." It is only now as an adult that I recognize that in HIS time, the things he was writing were novel and that few had written of things that way. He wrote as if a man stuck in a time which was not his own. Be that in the past, as with his "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" [which I loved as a youth] or in his side-ways admonishment of those who practiced racism by writing "Huckleberry Finn" foreshadowing the future of America's civil rights movement. Remember now, women did not even have the right to vote at the time he was alive and black men were still being denied their vote by Poll Taxes and other "tests" to see if they were literate. Twain, to me, took the illogical human traits he found and aired them out for all the world to examine, much like the "dirty laundry" my grandmother would talk about keeping out of the public.
People either loved him or hated him for his commentary through literature and articles. It is a harsh lesson to find your own traits condemned as false-thinking in a popular writer's stories. American society, as a whole, grew more nobel from the result. For sure, better able to laugh at themselves. Twain made us realize how serious we took our position as citizens of this "Grand Experiment" ~ the country without a monarchy ~ without a royal family to fawn on and envy. He would not live to see how 20th Century media presents the public with their idea of who is "royalty" -- the Kennedys, the movie stars, the sports stars. Wonder what he would say today.
It is our intention to use the web to introduce Twain's writings ~ including those where he went to other countries and wrote back his impressions. With no TV, no radio and no big-time movies going on yet, eloquent and prolific writers and speakers such as Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Bret Harte and Jack London all caught the attention of the reading American public who were all anxious for stories from "far away lands." We will serialize them, if you will. We invite you check back to see what we've posted. ~ Bridget E. Smith
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