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Robert Hirst <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 29 Nov 2000 13:28:29 -0800
text/plain (61 lines)
The Mark Twain Project owns a modern print of the photograph in question,
taken on the evening of April 11, 1906, at the meeting of the A club at #3
Fifth Avenue, NYC. It was recently given to us by Valery A. Aleksandrov of
the Institute of World Literature in Moscow, who has been writing about
Mark Twain and Gorky for publication in Russia.

The photograph shows a group of nine men standing behind four seated men at
a round dining table. The four seated men are identified by Aleksandrov as
Zinovii Peshkov (Gorky's adopted son), Gorky himself, Mark Twain, and Ivan
Narodny. It was Narodny who invited Mark Twain to "give us the pleasure of
your company at dinner Wednesday evening, April 11th, at seven o'clock, to
meet Maxim Gorky" (Narodny to SLC, 10 April 1906, CU-MARK).

We know that Charlotte Teller (Mrs. Johnson, later Hirsch) was partly
responsible for this meeting. She recalled in the introduction to her
S.L.C. to C.T. that "It was during the Russian Revolution of 1905 [sic]
that word came to a group of us who were living at 3 Fifth Ave, all of us
writers, that Tschaikowsky was coming with Gorki to raise money in the U.S.
When he arrived I saw him, and found him much depressed because he did not
know how to reach Mark Twain, whom he wanted as chairman for a big mass
meeting. Although I did not know Mark Twain myself, I offered to see what
could be done. I went to 21 Fifth Ave. and asked for Mr. Clemens's
secretary. She said to bring Tschaikowsky back at 2 o'clock in the
afternoon. I did, and introduced the two men, both of them white haired and
most distinguished in appearance. As I started to leave, Mark Twain asked
me my name and when he found that I had written a 'Joan d'Arc' play which
was considered the previous year by Maude Adams, he asked me to come back
the next morning and read him the play. I did, and when I finished he was
much moved . . . . From that day I saw him almost every day for nearly
three months."

On 28 March Isabel V. Lyon recorded the following in her Daily Reminder: "A
young and delightfulish Mrs. Johnson came in yesterday to ask if Mr.
Clemens would care to meet Mr. Tschaykoffski, the Russian Revolutionary
agitator. He came and Mr. Clemens had a good talk with him, but discouraged
him a bit I fear. Mrs. Johnson herself is a clever creature, I believe, for
she attracts you and she told me how for a year she has been working on a
Joan of Arc play for Maude Adams."

On 11 April, IVL wrote: "Last night Mr. Clemens dined with Mrs. Johnson and
her revolutionary tribe--Narodny and others. No--Narodny wasn't there
either--but he's to be there tonight, and Gorky too. A buck dinner."

Then on April 12, IVL wrote: "Last night  Mr. Clemens dined with Narodny
and Maxim Gorky and others down at #3 Fifth Avenue. It must have been a
delight even if Gorky cannot speak a word of English. He sat on Mr.
Clemens's right and his adopted son acted as interpreter . . ."
This explains, perhaps, why there are not extensive records of what the two
talked about.

Shortly after the scandal broke, Mark Twain wrote a four page manuscript,
still unpublished I believe, called "A Cloud-Burst of Calamities," in which
he tracked day by day, from April 12 through April 14, what was happening
and what he was thinking privately vis a vis Gorky.

Any or all of these documents are available in the usual way through the
Mark Twain Project.

Bob Hirst
General Editor, Mark Twain Project