TWAIN-L Archives

Mark Twain Forum


Options: Use Forum View

Use Proportional Font
Show HTML Part by Default
Condense Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 11 Sep 1996 17:11:11 -0400
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (34 lines)
At long last I've located the quotation in the _Autobiography_ that I
promised someone.  It's from chapter 55 (at least of my Neider-ized

"...within the compass of these forty years wherein I have been playing
professional humorist before the public, I have had for company
other American humorists.  Each and every one of the seventy-eight rose in
time, became conspicuous and popular, and by and by vanished.  . . .  Why
have they perished?  Because they were merely humorists.  Humorists of the
'mere' sort cannot survive.  Humor is only a fragrance, a decoration.  Often
it is merely an odd trick of speech and of spelling, as in the case of
[Artemus] Ward and [Josh] Billings and [Petroleum Vesuvius] Nasby and the
'Disbanded Volunteer,' and presently the fashion passes and the fame along
with it.  There are those who say a novel should be a work of art solely and
you must not preach in it, you must not teach in it. That may be true as
regards novels but it is not true as regards humor.  Humor must not
professedly teach and it must not professedly preach, but it must do both if
it would live forever [thus the source of the previously mentioned quote].
 By forever, I mean thirty years.  With all its preaching it is not likely
outlive so long a term as that.. . . I have always preached.  That is the
reason that I have lasted thirty years.  If the humor came of its own accord
and uninvited I have allowed it a place in my sermon, but I was not writing
the sermon for the sake of the humor.  I should have written the sermon just
the same, whether any humor applied for admission or not.  I am saying these
vain things in this frank way because I am a dead person speaking from the
grave.  Even I would be too modest to say them in life."

Hope this interests some of you.  I know it does me.

Scott Dalrymple