14 June 2018
CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne, "Mark Twain" (1835-1910). Autograph manuscript of a humorous passage, with several deleted words, insertions and additions by the author, n. p., n.d. [ca.1880s].
One page, 220 x 140mm, formerly bound into the limited edition of Mark Twain's Works, New York: Harper & Bros, 1929 (limitation leaf present).
Clemens revises Clemens. An apparently unpublished humorous fragment – complete in itself – though paginated "4" by Clemens. It involves mathematics, a particularly painful discipline for Clemens and a subject often the butt of his barbed humor. "On Friday Mr. Loeb, Official & Chief of the Board of Assertions & Denials, [by] Megaphone announced from the Lighthouse by command of the Head of the Family, that from & after said date the multiplication table would be excluded from the public schools & the Bible put in its place." Clemens has taken considerable care to prune and shape the brief anecdote, adding some eight words and lining out two others. Much of Mr. Loeb's grandiose official title Clemens has added as an interlinear insertion. "The Head of the Family" cited as the ultimate authority for the decree, is, one can hardly doubt, none other than paterfamilias, Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The text strongly suggests the humor he shared with his daughters, and may well have been intended as a private, family joke.
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