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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 17 Jan 2019 03:03:58 +0000
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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JULES AUSTIN HOJNOWSKI <[log in to unmask]>
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No, i have not

Not by postal or email

At least he read some of twain, to follow him :)


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From: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Kent Rasmussen <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2019 8:48:08 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Mark Twain in Venezuela

Today, I received a note from a South American identifying himself as a
"professor of literature" at a high school in Venezuela inviting me to
donate four volumes of Mark Twain's writings that I edited to his
unnamed school. The books, he assured me, "will be used, with students,
in order to study the 19th century American Literature and authors."

My initial reaction was sympathetic. I rather liked the idea of young
Venezuelan students eagerly poring through my books. At the same time,
however, I wondered if the letter was sincere. Something about it had a
familiar ring to it. The letter has too much the feel of boilerplate. I
decided to see what I could learn about the correspondent online, and
what I found is very revealing. My first discovery was the text of a
note he wrote to a British society of stamp collectors phrased almost
the same as his letter to me:

"Dear  staff  of  Norvic Philatelics . Im  a professor of  `History' at
a local High School. Id like to know if you can send as donation (by
Postal Service) some postage stamps from Great Britain. I need  these
postage stamps, in order to get better my classes with my students,
focused on Philately as a source to learn world history, arts and sciences."

Hey, I thought ... isn't he supposed to be a "professor of literature"?
Maybe he wears two hats. Or possibly three. I also found this note he
wrote to a German amateur film-making society:

"Dear Staff of Selon Fischer Filmproduktion, I am professor of Films &
Filmmaking at local school of cinema. I would like to know if you can
send as donation (using post office) the DVD-Films: Die Sprachlosen
(2014) Vogelfrauen (2015) Fettes Grn (2016) These DVD-Films will be
watched by students, in order to study: film-directing by Selon Fischer.

I suspect that further research might uncover more examples of this
fellow's versatility, but I won't bother to look for them. Meanwhile, I
have recalled why his boilerplate letters sounded so familiar. One of
the books he asked me to send him is DEAR MARK TWAIN, which contains a
letter (no. 99) from a young Norwegian asking Mark Twain for an
autograph in 1890, while suggesting that obtaining a sample of his
handwriting would give him his greatest joy. That letter didn't sound
sincere to me, either. A little research on my part discovered that its
author wrote similarly flattering letters to a wide variety of people,
essentially telling each that having his autograph would complete his
joy. The multi-talented "professor" in Venezuela sounds like his kinsman.

I would be interested to know if anyone else on the forum has received
similar requests from my brazen Venezuelan correspondent.