Thank you very much for your comments, Shelley.
I thought you and all the Twain lovers in this Forum would appreciate that my students finished watching Mark Twain Tonight! on January 23rd, and as usual in past classes, heartedly clapped when he came on stage. They are due to hand in their essays on his performance tomorrow—what chapters they enjoyed the most; what did Twain through Hal say about life, and how those experiences and observations are relevant to their lives. They studied his background from Kent’s Critical Companion before watching MT Tonight! and were leafing through the pages of Hal’s autobiography while viewing as well.
But what is most heartwarming and sent a chill through me, is that one of my students called me to express his sincere condolences. He said there is a Group Chat for my class (I did not know this) and in it, they were all remarking how uncanny is the timing of their watching and writing about him as he was passing.
In fact, this student said that through the Group Chat, they all agreed that while shocked and saddened, they are proud, deeply proud to claim that officially, they are the last group to formally study Hal Holbrook while he was still alive.
> On Feb 3, 2021, at 2:08 PM, Shelley Fisher Fishkin <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> John, your students who had the chance to meet him were, indeed, incredibly fortunate; those who encountered him (and will encounter him in the future) via video were (and will be) fortunate, as well. A brilliant actor, and a truly extraordinary Mark Twain scholar, Hal Holbrook Z"L brought unparalleled insight and understanding to the author who became his guiding star. We are all so blessed that Mark Twain found Hal Holbrook and that Hal Holbrook found Mark Twain. Holbrook allowed Twain to speak to 20th-century and 21st-century audiences with humor and wit, to be sure, but with dazzling eloquence and power, as well. No other author has had such a kindred spirit shape his legacy in such remarkable ways during the century after his death. My heart goes out to his family. It was a privilege to be his friend. May his memory be a blessing--and an inspiration. An inspiration to all of us to continue Twain's - and Holbrook's project of "the deriding of shams, the exposure of pretentious falsities, the laughing of stupid superstitions out of existence" -- and remembering "that whoso is by instinct engaged in this sort of warfare is the natural enemy of royalties, nobilities, privileges and all kindred swindles, and the natural friend of human rights and human liberties." That's how Twain put it when he got an honorary degree from Yale. Those are the values that animated the Twain that Holbrook gave us for more than six decades. The gratitude that overwhelms me as a I think about this helps soothe some of the sadness I feel at the thought that he is gone.
> Shelley Fisher Fishkin
> Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities; Professor of English, and Director of American Studies, Stanford University
> Mail: Department of English, Bldg. 460, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-2087
> On Feb 2, 2021, at 5:39 AM, John R. Pascal <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
> https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/02/theater/hal-holbrook-dead.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage <https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/02/theater/hal-holbrook-dead.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage>
> Thank God six classes of The Writings of Mark Twain got to know him. One class got to meet him.
> Future classes will continue to study and appreciate him.
> John R. Pascal, M.B.A., M.A.
> Teacher of 9th, 11th Grade English Honors, & The Writings of Mark Twain Honors
> Seton Hall Preparatory School
> Contributing Author to Mark Twain and Youth