Right around the time of making a trip to Samuel Clemens’ boyhood home, in Hannibal, Missouri (see my travelogue), I was reading a great deal of Rousseau, and I noticed an interesting similarity. The realization takes some developing, so I will start with how I arrived at noticing the similarity, before saying what it was.
There is a very good biography of Clemen’s last years (approximately his last decade) by Michael Sheldon, called Mark Twain: Man in White: The Grand Adventure of his Final Years. It struck me as very, very out of place, with respect to my overall impression of Clemens. In retrospect, I know that this is because I read much of Twain’s books, while knowing very little about Clemens, the man. “Grand Adventure” is a really bizarre way of putting such a grim, dismal, and pessimistic end to a life. It had its ups, don’t get me wrong; for instance, he was awarded his DLitt and doctoral robes from Oxford. Continue reading