Monday, 24 May 2010

From the grave

How cool is this?

Exactly a century after rumours of his death turned out to be entirely accurate, one of Mark Twain's dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published.

He asked for it not to be published until 2010 and they've honoured his wishes. And it's going to quite a read by all accounts.

The eventual trilogy will run to half a million words, and shed new light on the quintessentially American novelist.

"There is a perception that Twain spent his final years basking in the adoration of fans. The autobiography will perhaps show that it wasn't such a happy time. He spent six months of the last year of his life writing a manuscript full of vitriol, saying things that he'd never said about anyone in print before. It really is 400 pages of bile."

No one seems to know exactly why he demanded a 100 year postponement to publication, but this gives us a hint:

A section of the memoir will detail his little-known but scandalous relationship with Isabel Van Kleek Lyon, who became his secretary after the death of his wife Olivia in 1904. Twain was so close to Lyon that she once bought him an electric vibrating sex toy. But she was abruptly sacked in 1909, after the author claimed she had "hypnotised" him into giving her power of attorney over his estate.

Their ill-fated relationship will be recounted in full in a 400-page addendum, which Twain wrote during the last year of his life. It provides a remarkable account of how the dying novelist's final months were overshadowed by personal upheavals.

"Most people think Mark Twain was a sort of genteel Victorian. Well, in this document he calls her a slut and says she tried to seduce him."

Santa, if you reading, I'd like it for Christmas please.

1 comment:

Michael J. McFadden said...

I've often wondered what Mark Twain would have to say about "Tom Sawyer" being rewritten to remove the smoking pipes sequence when the boys are on the island.

I don't think they've managed to eliminate smoking from Catcher in the Rye yet though. But I'll bet we'll see a computer fuzzed version of Casablanca before too long.

I remember an Antismoker arguing on some netgroup back in the 90s that they were just being reasonable and that they would NEVER take Santa Claus's pipe away.

Yeah, right.