Samuel L. Clemens

Samuel L. Clemens Humorous Autograph Manuscript about Mathematics, referencing the Bible

Samuel L. Clemens humorous AM about mathematics


1p AM inscribed overall in the hand of Samuel L. Clemens (1835-1910), and later bound in an early-twentieth-century Memorial Edition of the Writings of Mark Twain (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1929), ed. #77. On cream stationery paper, possibly bifold. The left edge is ragged, and there are a few chipped edges. A lightly rusted paper clip impression located at upper right of first page. Two linen tabs located at the top of the last blank page. Else near fine. Measures 5.5" x 8.625". Comes with the corresponding Memorial Edition half-title page.


The 1929 Memorial Edition of Mark Twain's complete works was limited to 90 copies, and featured an original author's manuscript inserted directly into the first volume. The manuscripts included within this series appear to be unpublished.


This manuscript fragment, comprised of 50+ words, gives us tremendous insight into Clemens's writing process. The author crossed out 3 words and added 11 in this zany and humorous critique of mathematics. The main character's honorary title, for example, was later added as an interlinear insertion. The fragment, delineated as page 4 at top, reads:


"On Friday Mr. Loeb, Official + Chief of the Board of Assertions + Denials, [by Megaphone announced from the Lighthouse by command of the Head of the Family, that from + after said date the multiplication table would be excluded from the public schools + the Bible put in its place."


Clemens particularly hated the discipline of mathematics, and often made it the butt of his barbed humor. Clemens wrote acidly in his 1883-1884 Notebook #22: "We could use up two Eternities in learning all that is to be learned about our own world and the thousands of nations that have arisen and flourished and vanished from it. Mathematics alone would occupy me eight million years."


In addition, Clemens's inclusion of the phrase "Head of the Family" suggests he is ironically referring to himself as a sort of omnipotent paterfamilias. The fragment may have been part of a family joke shared with three daughters Susy, Clara, and Jean.



Item: 64775

Price: $2,750.00
Samuel L. ClemensSamuel L. ClemensSamuel L. ClemensSamuel L. Clemens
Samuel L. Clemens
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