Twain and the barbaric yawp

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mark-twainWe’ve written about the centenary of Mark Twain’s death this week here and here, but for sheer liveliness, it’s hard to top Tom Wolfe’s take in the New York Times today here.

An excerpt:

“The rest of the world regarded Americans as a mob of barbarians who happened to live on top of a mother lode of precious minerals, fertile land, inexhaustible woodlands and waterways galore … but were as uncouth as they were rich … and spoke in barbaric yawps. This improbable yobbo, Mark Twain, had risen up from the buried life of the mines and the boiler rooms and done an amazing thing. He had turned the local yokel’s yawping yodels into … literature!

England gawked. Europe gawked. The whole globe gawked, even India. It has been recorded that Twain once returned from India and said to a friend, eyes wide, mandibles agape, soul in a state of utterly sincere self-awe: “In India, they know only three things about America … Wall Street … the Statue of Liberty …and Mark Twain!”

HOLB_LPostscript: Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight! on Tuesday, April 27, at 8 p.m., in Memorial Auditorium.  Sold out, I’m afraid, but there’s always a chance of returns… More info here.

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” Mark Twain


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