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Mark Coburn <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 14 Apr 1997 10:11:21 -0600
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Mike Pearson wrote:
> Hoping one of you brave souls you can shed some light on this...
> Can anyone resolve the apparent contradiction between Twain's
> "moralistic dudgeon" and his claim that the Moral Sense is to blame
> for most human shortcomings?

I've seen at least one place (a letter?  somewhere in the
Autobiography?) where Twain notes the paradox, and berates himself for
snarling at people for doing what they are programmed to do.  The same
point comes up in the Morgan Le Fay section of CONNECTICUT YANKEE.  Hank
says something like, she does as she's been trained to do...but
adds that he'll hang her for it if he gets the chance.

But I think a broader answer to your question, Mike, is that we often
expect a consistency from the dead that we never expect from ourselves.
 No one who has ever bought a product because the label said "Old
Fashioned" and then bought another  because the label read "New!!"
should belabor Clemens for his inconsistencies.

To me, much of Twain's appeal is that his paradoxes are so much our
own--e.g., yearning for simplicity and also craving goodies; wanting
public adoration, yet often seeing people as damned fools.

Mark Coburn
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