Wednesday, February 23, 2011

March Mark Twain House Hapennings

"Mark Twain's Autobiography, Volume I", took the country by storm last year, putting an author dead for a century on the bestseller list.

Mark Twain frequently stated his desire that his autobiography not be published for 100 years, wanting to be able to discuss personalities and issues of politics and religion freely.

The book issued in November at last follows the formula Twain prescribed for writing a perfect autobiography: "Start it at no particular time of your life; talk only about the thing that interests you for the moment; drop it the moment its interest threatens to pale, and turn your talk upon the new and more interesting thing that has intruded itself into your mind meantime."

As a result, you hear the man himself as he paced back and forth before a stenographer, dictating as it came to him, subject by subject, with some editing afterward. Some have described the work as "Mark Twain's blog."

On Thursday, March 3, Dr. Kerry Driscoll of St. Joseph College in West Hartford, a nationally known Twain scholar, will lead a discussion of the classic autobiography at The Mark Twain Museum Center.

And lest readers be put off by the length of the book, be assured that the work has a good deal of pre- and post- scholarly material: The meat of Twain's acerbic recounting of his life and thoughts that intruded themselves into his mind runs 284 pages (pages 203-467 of the work). The book is available at the Mark Twain Museum Store.

A reception at 5 pm will open the event, with the book discussion starting at 5:30. Admission is free.

The event is the second in the series of Nook Farm Book Talks (formerly the Nook Farm Book Club), a collaboration of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and The Mark Twain House & Museum. Talks are held on the first Thursdays of each month, except for August and will alternate between the two museums.

The popular book club-style talks drew groups large and small last year as they explored Twain's and Stowe's works - along with the issues that captivated the two authors celebrated in the Nook Farm neighborhood. This year, selections range from Twain's little-known masterpiece of racial identity "The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson," to a present-day bestseller with a message: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".

A list of books to be read over the year follows. Receptions are at 5; discussions are at 5:30. Reservations are recommended: Call Kate Rounds at 860-522-9258, Ext. 317, or email Books discussed are available at the museums' gift shops.

April 7 at The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center:
"Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide" by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

May 5 at The Mark Twain House & Museum:
"The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic & Madness at the Fair That Changed America" by Erik Larson

June 2 at The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center:
"The Minister's Wooing" by Harriet Beecher Stowe

July 7 at The Mark Twain House & Museum:
"Joseph Hopkins Twichell: The Life & Times Of Mark Twain's Closest Friend"
by Steve Courtney (author present)

September 1 at The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center:
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson

October 6 at The Mark Twain House & Museum:
"The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James

November 3 at The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center:
The Lincoln and Douglass Papers

December 1 at The Mark Twain House & Museum:
"The Tragedy Of Pudd'nhead Wilson" by Mark Twain

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)
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