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Sender: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2011 11:53:15 -0500
Reply-To: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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From: "Carl J. Chimi" <[log in to unmask]>
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I would really like to see that paper.  Is it possible to find out how to
obtain a copy?


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mark Twain Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of David
> Foster
> Sent: Monday, January 31, 2011 10:53 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Sam Clemens and bicycle riding
> Thanks for your paper, John.  I really enjoyed it, and was especially
> taken=
>  with the idea that the bicycle was the first mode of individual
> transporta=
> tion not to involve an animal and with your suggestion that it was in a
> way=
>  the precursor of the automobile and the airplane. (Incidentally, I
> would g=
> ive the canoe - in my view, an almost perfect piece of technology - the
> hon=
> or of being the first non-animal conveyance, but I'll grant you the
> bicycle=
>  for solid land.)  You make a good case for the charm as well as the
> influe=
> nce of the bicycle.=20
> -David
> ________________________________________
> From: Mark Twain Forum [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of John Bird
> [birdj1@PE=
> Sent: Monday, January 31, 2011 7:32 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Sam Clemens and bicycle riding
> As Larry Howe said, I gave a paper on Mark Twain and the bicycle at the
> San
> Diego conference last month. (I sent David the paper this morning, as
> well
> as a PowerPoint of bicycle pictures.) The main sources are his piece
> "Tamin=
> g
> the Bicycle," as well as his comments in the Autobiography. As is
> usual, hi=
> s
> autobiographical fiction and his autobiography are both not quite
> accurate.
> Peter Messent notes Twichell's journal, which is more accurate. The
> story
> condensed: Twichell and Twain bought bicycles in May 1884 and learned
> to
> ride. Twichell thought that the bicycle might be a good way for him to
> visi=
> t
> parishioners who lived farther out of town. Twain's bicycle was a
> Columbia
> 50-inch velocipede, also called a penny farthing, with a large front
> wheel
> and a small rear one. Hartford was the center of bicycle manufacturing
> in
> America, by the Pope Manufacturing Company, which had a virtual
> monopoly on
> bicycles in America. As Twain notes, his 50-inch bike was smaller than
> the
> usual 60-inch wheel; he calls his a "colt," a horse metaphor that runs
> all
> the way through "Taming the Bicycle."  As is usual with him, he
> exaggerates
> (greatly) his inability to learn to ride, for comic effect.  Twichell
> write=
> s
> that the two went on a 25-30 mile ride, more or less successfully. When
> the
> Clemens family went to Elmira for the summer in 1884, he took his
> bicycle
> along, but he gave it up because of all the hills. I find it curious
> that h=
> e
> did not publish "Taming the Bicycle," which is quite funny and quite
> good,
> and especially because he published almost nothing that year, calling
> the
> summer of 1884 his first lost year for writing in many years. (Of
> course, h=
> e
> was finishing the editing and publication of "Huck Finn," so it was not
> a
> lost summer at all.) If he had published the piece, he would have been
> one
> of the first writers to use the bicycle in fiction, as he had done with
> the
> telephone a few years before.  The next year, the safety bicycle was
> invented, with wheels of the same size, which made riding much easier.
> Readers of "Connecticut Yankee" in 1889 would have already seen the
> knights=
> '
> bikes as superseded technology--but technology that Hank Morgan would
> no
> doubt have known in the late 1870s, when he was knocked on the head and
> transported to King Arthur's Court. For me, the mental image of Twain
> and
> Twichell riding through Hartford on velocipedes is an indelible one.
> John Bird
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mark Twain Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of David
> Foster
> Sent: Saturday, January 29, 2011 8:21 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Sam Clemens and bicycle riding
> Everyone knows that Hank Morgan is rescued by bicycle riding knights in
> the=
> =3D
>  Connecticut Yankee, but does anyone know whether Clemens himself ever
> lear=
> =3D
> ned to ride a bicycle? If so, where could I find an account of
> that?=3D20
> Thanks for any leads,
> David=3D=