Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"Extracts From Adam's Diary" by Mark Twain

"Extracts From Adam's Diary" by Mark Twain (1880, ten pages)

Mark Twain (pen name for Samuel Clemens-1835 to 1910-Missouri, USA) is the "All American" writer.  Herman Melville might be more admired but Twain is (or was) more loved.    Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are canon status works. Kenzaburo Oe has stated that Huckleberry Finn had a great influence on his writings.       There has been a number of postings on Mark Twain recently because of the plans to publish a new edition of Huckleberry Finn that censors it for politically incorrect expressions so when I saw one of his short stories "Extracts From Adam's Diary"  was one of the stories of the day on East of the Web I decided to read it.

"Extracts From Adam's Diary"  is just what it sounds like.   It is Twain's idea of what a diary kept by Adam  would be like.   The diary begins right after a new creature enters Adam's world, a woman.   The style of the prose is direct  and delightful.    I think perhaps some very politically correct persons might see the treatment of women in this work as patronizing.     Adam speaks of the creature as annoying him by never stopping talking and makes use of other stereotypes.  

As I read this I could see this being read aloud to groups of barely literate Americans in the 1890s who would find it quite credible that they were being read to from the actual diary of Adam.    

TUESDAY -- She has taken up with a snake now. The other animals are glad, for she was always experimenting with them and bothering them; and I am glad because the snake talks, and this enables me to get a rest.
     FRIDAY -- She says the snake advises her to try the fruit of the tree, and says the result will be a great and fine and noble education. I told her there would be another result, too -- it would introduce death into the world. That was a mistake -- it had been better to keep the remark to myself; it only gave her an idea -- she could save the sick buzzard, and furnish fresh meat to the despondent lions and tigers. I advised her to keep away from the tree. She said she wouldn't. I foresee trouble. Will emigrate.
I loved  the last paragraph of this story.     I think if you agree with what Adam says in the last paragraph of this story then you have a good marriage.   This is a fun easy to read story all can enjoy.

"Extracts From Adam's Diary" can be read online.

Mel u


Becky said...

I enjoyed both Adam's diary and Eve's diary. Both were very fun Twain pieces :)

Mel u said...

Becky-thanks for the comments-I will look for Eve's Diary and read it soon

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Not a comment on your Mark Twain post (FYI, when referring to a person's pseudonym, one should always refer to the full name, not just the "fake" last name as with writers who use their own name. Thus, always "Mark Twain" instead of "Twain.")

God, I sound horribly pompous. Sorry--I can get carried away sometimes. But he really was a comic genius, wasn't he? I'm not sure anybody else from 19th century American used irony to the same effect he did.

Anyway, you asked me over on my blog which Welty short stories to read. "Why I Live at the PO " is a great comic one, but she has many good ones. You might want to try "Powerhouse," "A Worn Path," " A Still Moment." I also really like her collection called The Golden Apples.

Mel u said...

As the Crowe Flies and Reads-I checked in the writings of Robert Hirst, leading Twain scholar, head of the Twain Project, he uses simply Twain in his writings as did numerous other places I quickly checked-I am very far from a grammatical authority but I was wondering what the source of the rule you make reference to is?

Mel u said...

As the Crowe Flies and Reads-just for sake of being interested and perhaps learning something-I checked to see how Professors from Yale, Harvard and Oxford refer to George Eliot and George Sand-all follow the usage of referring to them by their their assumed sur name-I am no expert on grammar for sure and perhaps there was a time when you were correct but I do not see the rule you mentioned being observed by anyone-