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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mark Twain Emulates Jane Austen AGAIN!

Apropos my most recent post about Mark Twain and Jane Austen….

….and pending my fulfilling my promise, as promptly possible, to produce my magnus opus in progress of being written proving that Mark Twain really loved and emulated Jane Austen’s writing, I came across another gem that I can share now, which I think will just leap off the screen at most of you without the necessity of elaborate explanation:

“I was sorry to have my name mentioned as one of the great authors, because they have a sad habit of dying off. Chaucer is dead, Spencer is dead, so is Milton, so is Shakespeare, and I’m not feeling so well myself.”—From a speech given by Mark Twain to the Savage Club in London, published in 1907.

"Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor, which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony" -- Jane Austen, letter of March 13, 1816, first published in 1884.

If anyone believes the striking parallelism between the above two quotes was coincidental, or was unconscious on Mark Twain's part, I have several bridges to sell you at a heavy discount. It seems pretty clear to me that this is in exactly the same spirit of veiled homage as the following previously recognized gem courtesy of Mark Twain:

"Every time I read 'Pride and Prejudice' I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone"—Mark Twain writing to Janeite pal William Dean Howells, the operative satirical words being “Every time”, mock-betraying that Mark Twain rereads P&P regularly.

"From the very beginning—from the first moment, I may almost say—of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry."—Elizabeth Bennet betraying that she considered marrying Darcy during the first month of their acquaintance.

Mark Twain had the very good taste to emulate a great master. And…the best  part of his “sad habit of  dying off” homage,  is that overtly it is about dead great authors….and yet covertly, in its comic phrasing,  it is all about another dead great author who is not  one of the four (men) named—Jane Austen! So, it means that Mark Twain loved to play the part of the sexist snob, but in his  heart of hearts,  the author he actually emulated was Jane Austen.

@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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