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Barbara Gail Ladd <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Tue, 14 Aug 2007 14:32:06 -0400
text/plain (42 lines)
The only statement that comes to mind is Twain's observation about
letting the barrel refill after a bout of work, but I can't recall the
exact source of
that one.

My favorite comment is his passage on narrative in Life on the
Mississippi and in his Autobiography:

"Narrative should flow as flows the brook down through the hills and
woodlands, its course changed by every grass-clad gravelly spur that
projects into its path; its surface broken, but its course not stayed
by rocks and
gravel on the bottom in the shoal places; a brook that never goes
straight for a minute, but
goes, and goes briskly, sometimes ungrammatically, and sometimes fetching a
horseshoe three-quarters of a mile around,a dn at the end of the
circuit flowing within a yard of
the path it traversed an hour before; but always going, and always
following at
least one law, always loyal to that law, the law of narrative, which
has no law."

For comparison, look at James Garfield's comment of June 21, 1879 on
the Mississippi River, which parallels Twain's description of narrative
very well:

"It was said . . by a great and eminenbt politician of Mississippi
... that there were some things which were subject to the laws of
science; that there
were some things which could be controlled by man's ingenuity and man's
devices; but that
the Mississippi was not one of those things. He said that God Almighty,
when he made [it]
and bade its great floods flow from the mountains to the sea, said 'Let
her rip; there
is no law to govern it." (See Horwitz, By the Law of Nature, p 97).

Barbara Ladd
Emory University