nikola

The Awesomeness of Mark Twain

Mark Twain was one of the most awesome, hilarious, ingenious and original people in modern history. I’ll discuss a few of his funniest or most favourable aspects.

Originality

One of the things I like about Mark Twain is his originality. He didn’t bow to popular belief or peer pressure and change his opinions accordingly. His opinions were his alone. As an example, read his comments on Da Vinci’s the Mona Lisa…

To me it was merely a serene and subdued face, and there an end. There might be more in it, but I could not find it. The complexion was bad; in fact, it was not even human; there are no people that color.

At the start of the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he wrote:

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

I don’t understand the motive behind this statement, but I’m guessing this was actually a challenge to attempt all the things he warned not to do.

Premature Obituary

On June 1, 1897, the New York Herald, a widely read and popular daily American newspaper wrote an article in which it stated that Mark Twain was on the verge of death and that his thinking facilities had already been completely compromised. Ironically, Mark Twain was alive and well at the time. In fact, it was Mark Twain’s cousin J.R Clemens who was severely ill and had probably been the cause of the New York Herald‘s mistake. In an article titled “Mark Twain Amused” published the very next day in another newspaper, the Journal, Mark Twain made history by writing this ingenious comedic masterpiece:

“The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

This statement has been misquoted in many ways but, in my opinion, the original is still the funniest and most befitting.

 

Hatred for Jane Austen

One of the aspects of Mark Twain I like the most was his hatred for Jane Austen and the hilarious way in which he expressed it. Here are a few of his quotes that illustrate how much he detested Jane Austen and her works:

“Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book.”

“Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her [Jane Austen] up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

“She makes me detest all her people, without reserve. Is that her intention? It is not believable. Then is it her purpose to make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters? That could be. That would be high art. It would be worth while, too. Some day I will examine the other end of her books and see.”

Perhaps it’s because I, too, share his prejudice towards Jane Austenish literature, but I find his statements to be humorous.

Interest in Science

Yes. Mark Twain was interested in science too. As I mentioned in a previous post, Mark Twain was a close friend of Nikola Tesla. Mark Twain also patented three inventions including the Elastic-Clasp Brassiere Strap which is used nowadays in women’s bras. In addition, Mark Twain also wrote one of the first novels related to time travel called A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

Here is a letter Mark Twain wrote to Nikola Tesla. I’m dead serious…

Letter Mark Twain Tesla

 

This is beside the point but to be frank, I don’t think Tesla ever invented a “destructive terror” but still, he invented lots of other great things that have shaped the modern world.

Random Interesting Facts

Mark Twain in Tesla’s laboratory.

Here are a few surprising and interesting facts I’ve come across.

  • Brian May, the guitarist of Queen, one of the most popular bands of all time, also has a PhD in Astrophysics from the Imperial College and was the chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University. source
  • The Elastic-Clasp Brassiere Strap used in women’s bras was invented by Mark Twain. source
  • Physicist Brian Cox was also the keyboard player for the rock band Dare. source
  • Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla were great friends and fan-boys of each other. source
  • There’s an entire society of people who believe the Earth is flat. source
  • There’s a person who claims to own the Moon. source
  • People in the United States and Canada mistook a 1938 radio adaptation of H.G Wells’ The War of the Worlds to be fact and began fleeing their homes. source
  • Richard Feynman played the bongo drums (you probably know this one, but anyway). source
  • Richard Feynman was also an artist. He exhibited his work under the pseudonym “Ofey”. source
  • Richard Feynman was also an expert on safe-cracking (dammit, is there anything Feynman hasn’t done? 😀 ). source
  • Niels Bohr cancelled his honeymoon to write a paper on Quantum Mechanics. source

Here’s a video of Richard Feynman playing the bongo drums (I’ve also linked it as the source of fact #8):

My personal favourite is the fact that Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla (who are, in my opinion, two of the greatest people in history) were friends. One can only imagine what their discussion would have been like.

Addendum

  • The maiden name of astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s mother was Marion Moon.