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10/3/2013 6:00 p.m. - 10/24/2013 8:00 p.m.
Mark Twain Book Discussion
PROGRAM: Wit, Wisdom, and Woe: The Many Faces of Mark Twain" Union Parish Public Library October 3, 10, and 24, 2013 WHEN: October 3, October 10, October 17; 6:00-8:00 SPEAKER: Georgiann Potts, Facilitator,uses her skills as an instructor of Literature, experience as a Public Relations Director, and years of serving as a Louisiana Endowment for Humanities scholar to weave participants into the mind of the Author through storytelling, humor, and interactive discussion—true to the style of Mark Twain, himself! DETAILS: Mark Twain. The name brings to mind many associations --- Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, newspaperman, humorist, the Mississippi River, Halley's Comet, and jumping frogs, to name a few. In spite of an humble beginning, Twain was enormously successful thanks to his gifts as a natural storyteller and lively conversationalist. While we have some idea of his importance as an American writer, we may not be as familiar with the variety and scope of his work. Similarly, while we may assume that he was a happy, congenial fellow, the truth is that he was at times deep in despair, filled with dark thoughts and an abiding pessimism. Twain, like others in his family, was a consistent failure in business ventures, and lost several fortunes during his career. The greater failure in his life was his inability to come to a resolution concerning the relationship between Man and God. A complex character in his own right, Twain is far more interesting and contradictory than any of the fictional characters he brought to life in print and on stage. For this series, participants will read selected short stories for discussion, but may also read any of the other materials collected in the text as their interest dictates. To supplement the discussion, each session will include excerpts from Hal Holbrook's classic presentation of Twain on stage as circuit lecturer in "Mark Twain Tonight!" These excerpts will give the participants a clearer sense of the man, complete with his mannerisms and uncanny way in which he "owns" his audience. Session 1: "The proverb says that Providence protects children and idiots. This is really true. I know it because I have tested it." - Mark Twain How much of the Mark Twain we think we know is the reflection of his childhood experiences? From his premature birth, Twain was his mother's favorite while his relatively indifferent father failed repeatedly at business ventures to "make the family fortune." After briefly trying his hand at war, Twain escaped to the Great Far West, that undisciplined and rowdy fertile ground from which he was to harvest material for the rest of his life. Here he was "discovered" through his newspaper columns. "The Private History of a Campaign that Failed" - Twain 1885 "A True Story" - Twain 1874 "How I Edited an Agricultural Paper Once" - Twain 1870 "Jim Smiley and his Jumping Frog" - Twain 1865 Session 2: "If it can be proved that my fame reaches to Neptune and Saturn, that will satisfy me." - Mark Twain What makes a great American novel? Ernest Hemingway was convinced that whatever the key was, Twain had achieved it in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). This novel, together with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), mark the zenith of Twain's literary acclaim. Much has been made of the influence on Twain by his wife, Livy, and their life together. She was his muse as well as his lover, a devoted wife and mother to his children. During this period he achieved fame, love, and respectability. "The $30,000 Bequest" - Twain 1906 "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg" - Twain 1899 "The Story of the Bad Little Boy Who Didn't Come to Grief" - Twain 1865 "The Story of Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper" - Twain 1870 "The Stolen White Elephant" - Twain 1882 Session 3: "Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes, and wishes he was certain." - Mark Twain Twain's was a far-reaching imagination, creating works that defy classification. Throughout his life, however, Twain grappled with the concept of religion and the reality of God. He was fascinated by science, and one of his writings (an unfinished novella entitled "The Great Dark") had serious promise as a work of science fiction. His musings concerning the private thoughts of Adam and Eve are among the most charming and controversial of his writings. He forbade their publication, together with a number of his more cynical writings, until well after his death. "Letter from the Recording Angel" - Twain 1887/1889 "Extracts from Adam's Diary" - Twain 1903 "Eve's Diary" - Twain - 1905 "The Great Dark" - Twain - 1898 / 1905