16 Poems

© Hereus de Roberto Bolaño. Barcelona (Spain), 1981

 

“…31. Soñé que la tierra se acababa. Y que el único ser humano que contemplaba el final era Franz Kafka. En el cielo los Titanes luchaban a muerte. Desde un asiento de hierro forjado del parque de Nueva York veía arder el mundo.

32. Soñé que estaba soñando y que volvía a mi casa demasiado tarde. En mi cama encontraba a Mario de Sá-Carneiro durmiendo con mi primer amor. Al destaparlos descubría que estaban muertos y mordiéndome los labios hasta hacerme sangre volvía a los caminos vecinales.

33. Soñé que Anacreonte construía su castillo en la cima de una colina pelada y luego lo destruía.

34. Soñé que era un detective latinoamericano muy viejo. Vivía en NuevaYork y Mark Twain me contrataba para salvarle la vida a alguien que no tenía rostro. Va a ser un caso condenadamente difícil, señor Twain, le decía.

35. Soñé que me enamoraba de Alice Sheldon. Ella no me quería. Así que intentaba hacerme matar en tres continentes. Pasaban los años. Por fin, cuando ya era muy viejo, ella aparecía por el otro extremo del Paseo Marítimo de Nueva York y mediante señas (como las que hacían en los portaaviones para que los pilotos aterrizaran) me decía que siempre me había querido.

36. Soñé que hacía un 69 con Anaïs Nin sobre una enorme losa de basalto.

37. Soñé que follaba con Carson McCullers en una habitación en penumbras en la primavera de 1981. Y los dos nos sentíamos irracionalmente felices.

38. Soñé que volvía a mi viejo Liceo y que Alphonse Daudet era mi profesor de francés. Algo imperceptible nos indicaba que estábamos soñando. Daudet miraba a cada rato por la ventana y fumaba la pipa de Tartarín.

39. Soñé que me quedaba dormido mientras mis compañeros de Liceo intentaban liberar a Robert Desnos del campo de concentración de Terezin. Cuando despertaba una voz me ordenaba que me pusiera en movimiento. Rápido, Bolaño, rápido, no hay tiempo que perder. Al llegar sólo encontraba a un vieoj detective escarbando en las ruinas humeantes del asalto.

40. Soñé que una tormenta de números fantasmales era lo único que quedaba de los seres humanos tres mil millones de años después de que la Tierra hubiera dejado de existir.

41. Soñé que estaba soñando y que en los túneles de los sueños encontraba el sueño de Roque Dalton: el sueño de los valientes que murieron por una quimera de mierda.

42. Soñé que tenía dieciocho años y que veía a mi mejor amigo de entonces, que también tenía dieciocho, haciendo el amor con Walt Whitman. Lo hacían en un sillón, contemplando el atardecer borrascoso de Civitavecchia.

43. Soñé que estaba preso y que Boecio era mi compañero de celda. Mira, Bolaño, decía extendiendo la mano y la pluma en la semioscuridad: ¡no tiemblan!, ¡no tiemblan! (Después de un rato, añadía con voz tranquila: pero tamblarán cuando reconozcan al cabrón de Teodorico.)

44. Soñé que traducía al Marqués de Sade a golpes de hacha. Me había vuelto loco y vivía en un bosque.

45. Soñé que Pascal hablaba del miedo con palabras cristalinas en una taberna de Civitavecchia: “Los milagros no sirven para convertir, sino para condenar”, decía.

46. Soñé que era un viejo detective latinoamericano y que una Fundación misteriosa me encargaba encontrar las actas de defunción de los Sudacas Voladores. Viajaba por todo el mundo: hospitales, campos de batalla, pulquerías, escuelas abandonadas…”

Roberto Bolaño

Blanes, 1994

Tres (Fragmento de una colección de poemas)

 

_______________________________________

 

…”31. I dreamt that Earth was finished. And the only
human being to contemplate the end was Franz
Kafka. In heaven, the Titans were fighting to the
death. From a wrought-iron seat in Central Park,
Kafka was watching the world burn.

32. I dreamt I was dreaming and I came home
too late. In my bed I found Mário de Sá-Carneiro
sleeping with my first love. When I uncovered them
I found they were dead and, biting my lips till they
bled, I went back to the streets.

33. I dreamt that Anacreon was building his castle
on the top of a barren hill and then destroying it.

34. I dreamt I was a really old Latin American
detective. I lived in New York and Mark Twain
was hiring me to save the life of someone without
a face. “It’s going to be a damn tough case, Mr.
Twain,” I told him.

35. I dreamt I was falling in love with Alice Sheldon.
She didn’t want me. So I tried getting myself killed
on three continents. Years passed. Finally, when I
was really old, she appeared on the other end of the
promenade in New York and with signals (like the
ones they use on aircraft carriers to help the pilots
land) she told me she’d always loved me.

36. I dreamt I was 69ing with Anaïs Nin on an
enormous basaltic flagstone.

37. I dreamt I was fucking Carson McCullers in a
dim-lit room in the spring of 1981. And we both felt
irrationally happy.

38. I dreamt I was back at my old high school
and Alphonse Daudet was my French teacher.
Something imperceptible made us realize we were
dreaming. Daudet kept looking out the window
and smoking Tartarin’s pipe

39. I dreamt I kept sleeping while my classmates
tried to liberate Robert Desnos from the Terezín
concentration camp. When I woke a voice was
telling me to get moving. “Quick, Bolaño, quick,
there’s no time to lose.” When I got there, all I
found was an old detective picking through the
smoking ruins of the attack.

40. I dreamt that a storm of phantom numbers was
the only thing left of human beings three billion
years after Earth ceased to exist.

41. I dreamt I was dreaming and in the dream
tunnels i found Roque Dalton’s dream: the dream
of the brave ones who died for a fucking chimera.

42. I dreamt I was 18 and saw my best friend at
the time, who was also 18, making love to Walt
Whitman. They did it in an armchair, contemplating
the stormy Civitavecchia sunset.

43. I dreamt I was a prisoner and Boethius was
my cellmate. “look, Bolaño,” he said, extending
his hand and his pen in the shadows:
“they’re not trembling! they’re not
trembling!” (after a while,
he added in a calm voice: “but they’ll tremble when
they recognize that bastard Theodoric.”)

44. I dreamt I was translating the Marquis de Sade
with axe blows. I’d gone crazy and was living in the
woods.

45. I dreamt that Pascal was talking about fear with
crystal clear words at a tavern in Civitavecchia:
Miracles don’t convert, they condemn, he said.

46. I dreamt I was an old Latin American detective
and a mysterious Foundation hired me to find the
death certificates of the Flying Spics. I was traveling
all around the world: hospitals, battlefields, pulque
bars, abandoned schools….”

Excerpt from Tres (a collection of poetry)

English translation by Laura Healy

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Wanting to Be Big Stars

“The outside influences are always pouring in upon us, and we are always obeying their orders and accepting their verdicts. The Smiths like the new play; the Joneses go to see it, and they copy the Smith verdict.”

Mark Twain
Corn Pone Opinions
1923

 
 

 
 

“Sha, la, la, la, la, la, la

Mmm

Uh huh

I was down at the New Amsterdam

Staring at this yellow-haired girl

Mr Jones strikes up a conversation

Sha, la, la, la, la, la, la

Mmm

Uh huh

With a black-haired flamenco dancer

You know, she dances while his father plays guitar

She’s suddenly beautiful

We all want something beautiful

Man, I wish I was beautiful

So come dance the silence down through the morning

Sha la, la, la, la, la, la, la

Yeah

Uh huh

Yeah

Cut up, Maria!

Show me some of that Spanish dancin’

Pass me a bottle, Mr Jones

Believe in me

Help me believe in anything

‘Cause I want to be someone who believes

Yeah

Mr Jones and me

Tell each other fairy tales

And we stare at the beautiful women

She’s looking at you

Ah, no, no, she’s looking at me

Smilin’ in the bright lights

Coming through in stereo

When everybody loves you

You can never be lonely

Well, I’m gonna paint my picture

Paint myself in blue and red and black and gray

All of the beautiful colors are very, very meaningful

Yeah, well, you know gray is my favorite color

I felt so symbolic yesterday

If I knew Picasso

I would buy myself a gray guitar and play

Mr Jones and me

Look into the future

Yeah, we stare at the beautiful women

She’s looking at you

I don’t think so

She’s looking at me

Standing in the spotlight

I bought myself a gray guitar

When everybody loves me

I will never be lonely

I will never be lonely

Said I’m never gonna be

Lonely

I wanna be a lion

Yeah, everybody wants to pass as cats

We all wanna be big, big stars

Yeah, but we got different reasons for that

Believe in me

‘Cause I don’t believe in anything

And I wanna be someone to believe, to believe, to believe

Yeah!

Mr Jones and me

Stumbling through the Barrio

Yeah, we stare at the beautiful women

She’s perfect for you

Man, there’s got to be somebody for me

I wanna be Bob Dylan

Mr Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky

When everybody love you

Oh! Son, that’s just about as funky as you can be

Mr Jones and me

Starin’ at the video

When I look at the television, I wanna see me

Staring right back at me

We all wanna be big stars

But we don’t know why, and we don’t know how

But when everybody loves me

I’m wanna be just about as happy as I can be

Mr Jones and me

We’re gonna be big stars”

 
 

Mr. Jones is a song by American alternative rock band Counting Crows. It was released in December 1993 as the lead single and third track from their debut album, August and Everything After (1993). It was the band’s first radio hit and one of their most popular singles.

 
 

The album cover depicts handwritten lyrics to a song called August and Everything After, but the band decided against featuring the song on the album of the same name; it was not until over a decade later that it was played as part of one of their live concerts.

 
 

The band’s debut album August and Everything After was produced by American musician, songwriter, and soundtrack and record producer T-Bone Burnett. Joseph Henry “T Bone” Burnett was a touring guitarist in Bob Dylan‘s band on the Rolling Thunder Revue. And he also produced the second album by The Wallflowers, Bringing Down the Horse, released in 1996. August and Everything After became the fastest-selling album since Nirvana‘s Nevermind.

According to Adam Duritz, the song title had a hand in the naming by Jonathan Pontell of Generation Jones, the group of people born between 1954 and 1965. “I feel honored that my song Mr. Jones was part of the inspiration for the name Generation Jones. The name Generation Jones has several connotations, including a large anonymous generation, a “keeping up with the Joneses” competitiveness and the slang word “jones” or “jonesing”, meaning a yearning or craving

The primary topic of the song itself is perhaps how two struggling musicians (Duritz and bassist Marty Jones of The Himalayans) “want to be big stars,” believing that “when everybody loves me, I will never be lonely.” Duritz would later recant these values, and in later concert appearances, Mr. Jones was played in a subdued acoustic style, if at all. On the live CD Across a Wire Duritz changes the lyrics “We all wanna be big, big stars, but we got different reasons for that” to “We all wanna be big, big stars, but then we get second thoughts about that,” and “when everybody loves you, sometimes that’s just about as funky as you can be” to “when everybody loves you, sometimes that’s just about as fucked up as you can be.”

Some believe the song is a veiled reference to the protagonist of Bob Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man, based on the lyric “I wanna be Bob Dylan, Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky.” According to Adam Duritz on VH1 Story Tellers “It’s really a song about my friend Marty and I. We went out one night to watch his dad play, his dad was a Flamenco guitar player who lived in Spain (David Serva), and he was in San Francisco in the mission playing with his old Flamenco troupe. And after the gig we all went to this bar called the New Amsterdam in San Francisco on Columbus.”

In a 2013 interview, Duritz explained that the song is named for his friend Marty Jones, but that is about Duritz himself. “I wrote a song about me, I just happened to be out with him that night,” Duritz said. The inspiration for the song came as Duritz and Jones were d runk at a bar after watching Jones’ father perform, when they saw Kenney Dale Johnson, longtime drummer for the musician Chris Isaak, sitting with three women. “It just seemed like, you know, we couldn’t even manage to talk to girls, … we were just thinking if we were rock stars, it’d be easier. I went home and wrote the song,” Duritz said. He sang the song in fun, enjoying the fantasy of making it big. However, he did not realize that just months later, in December 1993, MTV would begin playing the video for the song. It was an unexpected hit song, drawing massive radio play and launching the band into stardom.

 

To listen to this song and watch the music video, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228

Became a Habit

“Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for — annually, not oftener — if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man’s side, consequently on the Lord’s side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments.”

Mark Twain

 
 

The Saturday Evening Post, November 26, 1921 – Illustration by Joseph C. Leyendecker

Lovers Throughout the Centuries

“My main inspiration for this film, which isn’t referred to anywhere, is Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve. I’m a big Mark Twain fan, but that’s maybe my favorite book of his. ”

Jim Jarmusch

 
 

 
 

Only Lovers Left Alive is a 2013 British-German vampire film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, and starring Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, and Jeffrey Wright.

Married for centuries and now living half a world apart, two vampires wake as the sun goes down. The only solace he finds from miserable modernity is Eve. Lovers throughout the centuries, the two would be soul mates – if only they had souls. Adam sits holding a lute, in his cluttered Detroit Victorian , as Eve wakes up in her bedroom in Tangier, surrounded by books. Acting like addicts, blood for them is a drug that provides a wave of euphoria as well as sustenance. They are dependent on local suppliers of the “good stuff”, fearing contamination from blood poisoned by the degradation of the environment. Adam visits a local blood bank in the dead of night, masquerading as “Dr. Faust”, paying “Dr. Watson” for his coveted O negative, while Eve relies on their old friend Christopher Marlowe, who faked his death in 1593 and lives under the protection of a local man.

After influencing the careers of countless famous musicians and scientists, Adam has become withdrawn and suicidal. His desire to connect through his music is at odds with the danger of recognition as well as his contempt for the corrupt and foolish humans he refers to as “zombies”. He spends his days recording his compositions on outdated studio equipment and lamenting the state of the modern world whilst collecting vintage instruments. He pays Ian, a naive human “rock and roll kid”, to procure vintage guitars and other assorted curiosities, including a custom-made bullet with a brass casing and a wooden tip. Having acquired substantial scientific knowledge over the years, the vampire has managed to build contraptions to power both his home and vintage sports car with technology originally pioneered by Nikola Tesla.

The film is one of several Jarmusch productions, alongside films such as Night on Earth, in which the action mainly occurs at night-time. Swinton stated after the film’s release: “Jim is pretty much nocturnal, so the nightscape is pretty much his palette. There’s something about things glowing in the darkness that feels to me really Jim Jarmusch. He’s a rock star.”

The film’s greatest triumph is how it manages to avoid and subvert the clichés surroundings vampire folklore. The v-word is never mentioned, and in a playful twist, it is the humans who are derisively referred to by Adam and Eve as “the zombies”. The two of them are cultural snobs, looking down upon humans as mindless beings who go about their days without a thought to the finer things in life.

It’s a personal take on how Jarmusch himself must feel. A film-maker who has built his hipster reputation as an independent New York artist working outside the mainstream, those like him who devote their time to the counter-culture will always feel isolated from the rest of the world. In Adam and Eve’s tender relationship he has made his warmest film yet, a movie with the message that the price of genius doesn’t have to be loneliness if you find a loving kindred spirit.

The Private Lives of Adam and Eve

 
 

Eve’s Diary is a comic short story by Mark Twain. It was first published in the 1905 Christmas issue of the magazine Harper’s Bazaar, and in book format in June 1906 by Harper and Brothers publishing house. It is written in the style of a diary kept by the first woman in the biblical creation story, Eve, and is claimed to be “translated from the original MS.” The book may have been written as a posthumous love-letter to Mark Twain’s wife Olivia Langdon Clemens, or Livy, who died in June 1904, just before the story was written. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “Eve’s Diary is finished — I’ve been waiting for her to speak, but she doesn’t say anything more.” The story ends with Adam’s speaking at Eve’s grave, “Wherever she was, there was Eden.”

 
 

Eve’s Diary, page 3

 
 

The “plot” of this novel is the first-person account of Eve (modeled after his wife Livy) from her creation up to her burial by, her mate, Adam (based on Twain himself), including meeting and getting to know Adam, and exploring the world around her, Eden. The story then jumps 40 years into the future after the Fall and expulsion from Eden. It is one of a series of books Twain wrote concerning the story of Adam and Eve, including Extracts from Adam’s Diary, That Day In Eden, Eve Speaks, Adam’s Soliloquy, and the Autobiography of Eve. Eve’s Diary has a lighter tone than the others in the series, as Eve has a strong appreciation for beauty and love.

 
 

 
 

The book version of the story was published with 55 illustrations by Lester Ralph, on each left hand page. The illustrations depicted Eve and Adam in their natural settings. The depiction of an unclothed woman was considered pornographic when the book was first released in the United States, and created a controversy around the book. One library in Charlton, Massachusetts banned the book for the depictions of Eve in “summer costume.”

Mark Twain wrote Adam’s Diary at the Villa Viviani, near Florence, Italy, where the family had moved in late September 1892, after a summer at Bad Nauheim, Germany. There he wrote several works, including Those Extraordinary Twins which would later be rewritten as The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson. He began work on Adam’s Diary during December of 1892 as early in January 1893 he noted that both Pudd’nhead Wilson and Adam’s Diary had gone to the typist.

When the copy of Adam’s Diary was finished, Mark Twain sent it to Webster and Company manager Fred Hall on 13 March 1893, along with another recently completed story, Is He Living or Is He Dead?, suggesting that Hall try to place them with the Cosmopolitan or Century magazine. The diary he declared “a gem, if I do say it myself that shouldn’t”. Although turned down by both Cosmopolitan and Century, the diary finally found a place in The Niagara Book, a volume that Irving S. Underhill, the son of an old friend from Buffalo, was preparing in the hope of promoting Niagara Falls as a tourist attraction.

While the revisions of Adam’s Diary were made to include references to Niagara Falls, Mark Twain apparently never really liked the Niagara Falls portions of the story. In August 1895, near the beginning of his world lecture tour, he revised a copy of the Niagara Book piece, marking out the Niagara Falls passages and localized allusions and making a few additional changes.

He made further revisions as he was writing Eve’s Diary in order to publish both diaries as companion pieces. On 16 July he wrote to his daughter Clara: “This morning I gutted old Adam’s Diary & removed every blemish from it.” “Matters did not allow the publication until 1931, when Harper’s [sic] finally published them together as The Private Lives of Adam and Eve.”

Twain had long been fascinated with the story of our First Parents. Examples of literary works involving Adam include: Chapter 53 of The Innocents Abroad, where the narrator revels in “tumultuous emotions” at finding himself beside Adam’s tomb, and bewails that fact that neither of them had had the opportunity to know the other. And in 1877 Adam’s Expulsion, though not published until [The Bible According to Mark Twain], marked his first attempt to present Adam as an actual character and to delve into his motivations and reactions. Adam is based on Twain himself.

Many of Twain’s joking references to Adam are among his most outrageous remarks. When he thinks of a plight of his own, like unjust copyright laws, he is reminded of Adam: “Adam was the author of sin, and I wish he had taken out an international copyright on it. For international copyright could have won, then. But when there came to be two men, it was too late, because there was one to oppose it, and experience shows that that fellow would have had the most influence.”

Mark Twain wrote Eve’s Diary in Dublin, New Hampshire, in July 1905, following a visit from Harper editor Frederick Duneka, who suggested he write the story for the magazine’s Christmas issue. From the beginning he thought of the story as a companion piece to Adam’s Diary, with Eve using Adam’s record as her “unwitting and unconscious” text. That desire led to the revision of Adam’s Diary, as described earlier. Although Twain wanted both pieces to appear in Harper’s, Duneka rejected the idea, saying that they would be issued together in a single volume as soon as “matters” allowed doing the book properly, and that Eve’s Diary itself would go into the Christmas magazine.

Kafka for Kids

Sylvia Plath believed it was never too early to dip children’s toes in the vast body of literature. But to plunge straight into Franz Kafka? Why not, which is precisely what Brooklyn-based writer and videogame designer Matthue Roth has done in My First Kafka: Runaways, Rodents, and Giant Bugs (public library) — a magnificent adaptation of Kafka for kids. With stunning black-and-white illustrations by London-based fine artist Rohan Daniel Eason, this gem falls — rises, rather — somewhere between Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak, and the Graphic Canon series.

 
 

 
 

The idea came to Roth after he accidentally started reading Kafka to his two little girls, who grew enchanted with the stories. As for the choice to adapt Kafka’s characteristically dark sensibility for children, Roth clearly subscribes to the Sendakian belief that grown-ups project their own fears onto kids, who welcome rather than dread the dark. Indeed, it’s hard not to see Sendak’s fatherly echo in Eason’s beautifully haunting black-and-white drawings.

 
 


 
 

Much likeJonathan Safran Foer used Street of Crocodiles to create his brilliant Tree of Codes literary remix and Charles Darwin’s great-granddaughter adapted the legendary naturalist’s biography into verse, Roth scoured public domain texts and various translations of Kafka to find the perfect works for his singsong transformations: the short prose poem Excursion into the Mountains, the novella The Metamorphosis, which endures as Kafka’s best-known masterpiece, and Josefine the Singer, his final story.

 
 

“I don’t know!”
I cried without being heard.

“I do not know.”

If nobody comes,
then nobody comes.

I’ve done nobody any harm.
Nobody’s done me any harm.
But nobody will help me.

A pack of nobodies
would be rather fine,
on the other hand.

I’d love to go on a trip — why not? —
with a pack of nobodies.

Into the mountains, of course.
Where else?

 
 

In a way, the book — like most of Kafka’s writing — also bears the odd mesmerism of literary history’s letters and diaries, the semi-forbidden pleasure of which swells under the awareness that their writers never meant for us to read the very words we’re reading, never sought to invite us into their private worlds. Kafka wished for his entire world to remain private — he never finished any of his novels and burned the majority of his manuscripts; the rest he left with his closest friend and literary executor, Max Brod, whom he instructed to burn the remaining diaries, sketches, manuscripts, and letters. It was out of love that Brod chose not to, possibly displeasing his friend but eternally pleasing the literary public.

 
 

 
 

Though Kafka never wrote for children (in fact, one might argue, he never wrote for anyone but himself), My First Kafka transforms his surviving work into a fine addition to other notable children’s book by famous authors of “adult” literature, including Mark Twain, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, James Joyce, Sylvia Plath, William Faulkner, Gertrude Stein, Anne Sexton, T. S. Eliot, and John Updike.

Butterflies Are Free

Butterflies Are Free is a 1972 film based on the play by Leonard Gershe. Goldie Hawn and Edward Albert starred. Eileen Heckart received an Academy Award for her performance.

 
 

While the original play was set in Manhattan, New York, the screenplay written for the 1972 film was set in an unknown location in San Francisco. The 1972 film was produced by M.J. Frankovich, released by Columbia Pictures, directed by Milton Katselas and adapted for the screen by Gershe. It was released on 6 July 1972 in the USA.

In the San Francisco of the 1970s, Don Baker (Edward Albert), who was born blind, has lived all his life with his mother (Eileen Heckart). When the Fletcher family moves near his home, he meets their daughter Linda Fletcher. Linda takes Don out to parties and fills him with confidence. She talks him into moving out of his mother’s house and having his own apartment. She even finds an apartment for him. She encourages Don to become a musician. But after Don moves into his new apartment, Linda meets a guy from a party and goes to live with him in Mexico.

Don finds himself all alone. He has made a contract that his mother will not come to see him for at least two months. One month has passed. This is when Jill Tanner (Goldie Hawn) moves in an apartment next door to Don. She listens to Don talking to his mother over the phone and turns on the radio. When Don asks her to turn the volume down, she invites herself over for a cup of coffee. They start talking and find each other friendly. Jill does not realize that Don is blind, until she sees him dropping his cigarette ash on the table.

Jill has never met a blind man before, so she asks all sorts of question about how Don manages everyday chores. She tells Don that her favorite quote is from Mark Twain: “I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies.” Don corrects her that actually this is a quote from Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Don makes up a song and starts to sing Butterflies are free on his guitar. Jill takes Don out for shopping to find better-fitting clothes for an aspiring musician. They have dinner together and later spend the night together in Don’s bed.

In the morning Don’s mother, Mrs. Baker (Eileen Heckart), surprises Don with a visit. Mrs. Baker sees that Don has attached himself to Jill (they are in their underwear). She fears that Jill will break Don’s heart just like Linda did. She takes Jill out for a lunch and tries to talk her out of Don’s life. Jill has strong feelings for Don and tells Mrs. Baker that if there is someone who should get out of Don’s life, it is she. However, Jill herself has problems making a commitment, and when she starts to fall for Don, she begins to look for ways to end the growing relationship. She makes a dinner date with Don, but she appears over three hours late with another man, Ralph (Paul Michael Glaser). She announces that she is moving in with Ralph, who is director of a play in which she’ll be acting (in the nude). This breaks Don’s heart and he gets ready to go home with his mother. Mrs. Baker, who had been telling Don to come back home, makes an about-face and starts telling him not to come home and to face life’s challenges. Mrs. Baker leaves. Soon after, Jill departs. Don is shattered and trips over the sofa. Sitting on the floor, he puts his head down on the table in despair. This is when he hears someone opening the door of the apartment. Jill walks in and asks Don what he’s doing on the floor. Don says, “I was just about to have a picnic.” Jill asks, “Without me?” Don answers, “I didn’t know I had a choice.” The picture ends with the two embracing.

Travel is Fatal to Prejudice

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime”

Mark Twain

 
 

Salvador Dalí and Federico García Lorca

 
 

Lorca and Luis Buñuel

New Fidelity Following the Equator

Samuel Clemens at the sea traveling in a steamboat, 1895. Photographer unknown

 
 

Following The Equator which was published in 1897. It was Mark Twain‘s most elaborate travel book, with numerous illustrations, and, for the first time, photographs.

 
 

Samuel Clemens’ Pilot Certificate

 
 

Drawing by John Harley, illustrator of Life On The Mississippi.

 
 

“Do you know what it means to be a boy on the banks of the Mississippi, to see the steamboats go up and down the river, and never to have had a ride on one? Can you form any conception of what that really means? I think not. Well, I was seven years old and my dream by night and my longing by day had never been realized. But I guess it came to pass. That was my first vacation.”

Mark Twain

 
 

New Fidelity, steamboat from Love in the Time of Cholera (Mike Newell, 2008)

 
 

…In January 1824, Commodore Johann Bernard Elbers, the father of river navigation, had registered the first steamboat to sail the Magdalena River, a primitive old forty-horsepower wreck named Fidelity. More than a century later, one seventh of July at six o’clock in the evening, Dr. Urbino Daza and his wife accompanied Fermina Daza as she boarded the boat that was to carry her on her first river voyage. It was the first vessel built in the localshipyards and had been christened New Fidelity in memory of its glorious ancestor. Fermina Daza could never believe that so significant a name for them both was indeed a historical coincidence and not another conceit born of Florentino Ariza’s chronic romanticism…

Gabriel García Márquez

Rush, Tom Sawyer


First track from Moving Pictures (1981), the eighth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush. This song was named after Mark Twain‘s literary character. The song was written by Lee, Peart, and guitarist Alex Lifeson in collaboration with Canadian lyricist Pye Dubois (the lyricist of Max Webster), who also co-wrote other Rush songs such as Force Ten, Between Sun and Moon, and Test For Echo. According to the US radio show In the Studio with Redbeard (which devoted an entire episode to the making of Moving Pictures), Tom Sawyer came about during a summer rehearsal holiday that Rush spent at Ronnie Hawkins’ farm outside Toronto. Peart was presented with a poem by Dubois named Louis the Lawyer (often cited as Louis the Warrior) that he modified and expanded.

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

“MOST of the adventures recorded in this book really occurred; one or two were experiences of my own, the rest those of boys who were schoolmates of mine. Huck Finn is drawn from life; Tom Sawyer also, but not from an individual — he is a combina- tion of the characteristics of three boys whom I knew, and therefore belongs to the composite order of archi- tecture…”

Mark Twain
Tom Sawyer
(Preface)

 
 

Illustrations by Norman Rockwell

 
 

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is an 1876 novel about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River. The story is set in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, inspired by Hannibal, Missouri, where Twain lived. According to an October 2012 article published in Smithsonian magazine, Twain named his fictional character after a San Francisco fireman whom he met in June 1863.

Twain’s next major publication was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which drew on his youth in Hannibal. Tom Sawyer was modeled on Twain as a child, with traces of two schoolmates, John Briggs and Will Bowen. The book also introduced in a supporting role Huckleberry Finn, based on Twain’s boyhood friend Tom Blankenship.

In between the writing of The Prince and the Pauper, Twain had started Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which he consistently had problems completing) and started and completed another travel book, A Tramp Abroad, which follows Twain as he traveled through central and southern Europe.

Twain’s next major published work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, solidified him as a noteworthy American writer. Some have called it the first Great American Novel, and the book has become required reading in many schools throughout the United States. Huckleberry Finn was an offshoot from Tom Sawyer and had a more serious tone than its predecessor. The main premise behind Huckleberry Finn is the young boy’s belief in the right thing to do though most believed that it was wrong. Four hundred manuscript pages of Huckleberry Finn were written in mid-1876, right after the publication of Tom Sawyer. Some accounts have Twain taking seven years off after his first burst of creativity, eventually finishing the book in 1883. Other accounts have Twain working on Huckleberry Finn in tandem with The Prince and the Pauper and other works in 1880 and other years. The last fifth of Huckleberry Finn is subject to much controversy. Some say that Twain experienced, as critic Leo Marx puts it, a “failure of nerve.” Ernest Hemingway once said of Huckleberry Finn:

If you read it, you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating.

Hemingway also wrote in the same essay:

All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.

Near the completion of Huckleberry Finn, Twain wrote Life on the Mississippi, which is said to have heavily influenced the former book.The work recounts Twain’s memories and new experiences after a 22-year absence from the Mississippi. In it, he also states that “Mark Twain” was the call made when the boat was in safe water – two fathoms (12 feet or 3.7 metres).

 
 

Nigger Jim

 
 

Twain was an adamant supporter of abolition and emancipation, even going so far to say “Lincoln’s Proclamation … not only set the black slaves free, but set the white man free also.”