Five More Little Known Facts About Mark Twain

December 4, 2010

A promising bare-knuckle boxer in his younger days, Mark Twain once went ninety-six rounds against a Haitian stevedore. The two later became friends, and most Twainians agree that this man probably provided the model for the character of Jim.

Possessed of a rare condition wherein the legs cannot support the body’s weight while the prostate is relaxed, Mark Twain was physically incapable of peeing standing up, and in Hannibal Missouri-even years after his leaving-to pee sitting down was still called “taking a Twain.” Which probably, Twainians agree, had a lot to do with his leaving in the first place.

Despite being an inveterate cigar smoker, and despite gangster raps claims to the contrary (see Lucscious Larry and the Hot Freaks’ 1994 track “Blaze Like Twain”), Mark Twain did not refer to his habit as “firing up the blizzies.”

People assume that Mark Twain either had many of his trademark white suits, or that he only had one, and that he just never took it off. Neither of these assumptions is correct. It just happened, as things will, that the only times he was photographed he was coincidentally wearing that one suit. Weird, but true.

Twainians disagree on the exact number, but the various manuscripts of Huckleberry Finn suggest that Twain originally wanted to use the N word somewhere between seven and eight hundred more times than in the manuscript as printed. According to one set of notes (Twainians are split as to whether it’s possible to attribute the note to Twain), he worries that “using the word any less will cause readers to question whether I might myself be racist, whereas if I use the word more, and more, and more (in this set of notes, he takes umbrage with his editor for suggesting the cut of a scene wherein Huck calls Jim “the N-word” two hundred times in a row) then they will see it for what it is. Any less, and I’m troubled about what understanding, if any, people will have of what I’m trying to accomplish here.”

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1 David Gillaspie December 7, 2010 at 7:56 am

Thank you Murky for the inside line on MTwain. Bare knuckle fighter Twain will be an installment in Mixed Martial Authors, where he will fight well and lose, smoke between rounds, and keep a camp toilet handy in case his era-specific Depends (handkerchief) overflows in his trunks.

An updated Twain book, not Twain but Twain-like, is Forest Gump. Winston Groom channels Huck Finn.

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