The Interview with Mark Twain

07-09-2021

Mark Twain: I am in shambles, as I died in peace. Problems came later.
—Did the Judgment Day provoke them?
—There was incredible crowd of souls waiting for me to arrive, and I was late as usual. I walked in with my wife Olivia, who had died earlier. We had our differences, but these were nothing in comparison with differences that I had with society and my finances, as I never learned to take advantage of our freedom, democracy, or money-making opportunities. Here they suggest that I must learn cooperation with the world around me and study the managerial skills instead of becoming a next Shakespeare. But I want to be a writer again. The next time I will not be a fool to seek fame what creates monsters around you and turns you into one of them.

Like myself, be aware that you may face the same problem. Thank God, it will not happen tomorrow, that you start climbing straight up on our meager short sized Olympus.  

—What have been told to you on your Judgment Day?

—Nothing. They said like you were a good boy, who worked yourself from ground zero onto American Olympus. I was promised that my name will stay there for a long time, and they added, “Now it is your turn to learn financial freedom without harming your life, also your loved ones, especially without turning your daughters’ life into living hell. Boys did not love girls with fathers’ who had shaking monetary problems.”  Suzy never married because of my outstanding financial failures. Terrible! However, I know that it was not because of me, or her mother, but because of her destiny to become a spinster.

—Will you go learn money making skills?      

—Yes, I will. And this time I do not have to start from ground zero level to force myself to rise on the top in furious fight with colleagues in envy and unfriendliness. I will be a nasty creature, real Gobseck, stingy type, women hater, and I am afraid — a gay. 

—In what country?
— Of course, France with Italian accent! Mama will be an Italian, beautiful as a … I cannot find a polite wording for description of Lutheran busy beauty with all passion for men. In short, they apologized for my terrible life down there, absence of real friends — always working. I know that here in some place lives a spirit of Pushkin, I want to meet that guy. Can you arrange this favor for me?

I have idea who he is, but to see him will be entirely different story.

—I will try?

—What is his main work?
—A novel in verses Yevgeny Onegin, his poems, and novel The Captain’s Daughter about Pugachev’s revolt, quite a serious thing in the past. Dostoyevsky said that this novel worked as a plan for Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace.

Pushkin included contemporary spoken language into high poetry and marked the circle of main themes of the Russian literature.

—They expect me break the real ground for English speaking world in my next round as an American writer as well. I will go soon for rebirth in Boston.

—Sorry, may I ask if your rebirth will happen in France or Boston?

—Still not sure, both paths are open, I must make the final decision! Or someone will make it for me!  

—How I met my monster? After my transition, I was merrily looking around when I saw myself in my clothes in my own garden… My double was ten times taller than me. Not, he was not like me, but he was recognizable. He said that he came to keep me alive, and protect me from evil forces that were surrounding me from every thinkable angel!

—He wanted to enter your body despite being significantly taller than you?

—Exactly!

—Did you allowed this to happen?

—No, and it caused me terrible trouble. He chased me about a year. And, finally, I yelled into his face, that I hate him! However, my revelation did not cause him to leave me. He looked terrible…like Jim from Huckleberry Finn’s novella, always drunk and threatening. And my double looked like a mulatto. Probably, because I had my share of problems with African Americans during my entire life on earth. My problems with my accusers started early on, soon after the first edition of Huckleberry Finn was printed. I was marked as racist who hated poor negros in this country.

—Did you answer them?

—Never ever, as I was aware of politics. And dark-skinned Amerika, heated human beings, founded struggle for equality with whites. Politically I was on their side, as a writer I saw the deepest humanity in them, as they were capable to protect and encompass with love Huckleberry Finn, the crooked bad boy, an abandoned orphan in extreme misery, my favorite character, I had ever created! I was told on my Judgment Day that I have to continue writing to create something like Russians had in their Gogol’s “Dead Souls,” not two characters, but a gallery of various characters. Let me think if this is a chance for me?

Mark Twain fell in silence and continued after a while.       

―Of course, for me the most American character would be Donald Trump with his half-Russian wife Melania and the absolute syntheses, their son who will grow up as a highbrow who would despise his father as a Hill Billy who paid the national debt by lucky chance alone. Oh, Tramp proved to be the best for the job, that m… f…er!

―Who else?

―Let look for some public figures! Louis Armstrong! Nancy Reagan, Malcolm McDowell as Alex in Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange.

― Very much like Gogol’s Nozdrev! A professional hater of humanity! 

―And of course, Charles Chaplin, gentlemen from head to waistline, and down from a rope for a belt ― pants, clearly originated in some dump. In short, a gentleman with a distant past, but still full of life and love and hope!

― And one cannot build a gallery of American characters without a scandalous preacher and a salesperson on the road who put cockroaches in your head selling you God that they do not believe in, and stuff that you do not need, but you pretend buying into their lies out of pity toward their hardship as traveling salespersons despised by almost everyone whom they made listen to them. These characters would be left for me to create digging to the bottom of their misery!  And the last, but not the least one will be the American travelling inventor raising funds for his invention, I gather!

Thank you, Tatyana, for giving me an idle idea how to come back to writing that I decided to forget or postpone for an immeasurable time, at least for now! 

―May I point to a closer source of inspiration that can be effortlessly found on Guttenberg Project. The first page of Charles Dicken’s Pickwick Papers. Can something be funnier than following start of a book?  

“May 12, 1827. Joseph Smiggers, Esq., P.V.P.M.P.C. [Perpetual Vice-President—Member Pickwick Club], presiding. The following resolutions unanimously agreed to:—

‘That this Association has heard read, with feelings of unmingled satisfaction, and unqualified approval, the paper communicated by Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C. [General Chairman—Member Pickwick Club], entitled “Speculations on the Source of the Hampstead Ponds, with some Observations on the Theory of Tittle Bats;” and that this Association does hereby return its warmest thanks to the said Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C., for the same…’ ”

“Theory of Tittle Bats in the bottom of the Hampstead Ponds for advancing science!  I laughed my head off when I discovered it some time ago. It sounded like a fanfare for activating inspiration and choosing humorous style for entire book! Do you also have your secret ways, say, tricks for wakening inspiration into working condition and commanding readers to choose your side what you have done so successfully your entire life?

―Of course, I have. But I will not reveal my secret tricks as I want to continue writing my next story and I will use it again for experiencing pleasure birthing out of nowhere alive characters that would live their own life in subtle worlds, as does Pickwick, Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer and his aunty Sally and so many others who were coming from conscious of so many great writers that had  helped to refine our minds and perception of the world around us! And here comes a little gift to you.

The note from the author of this interview with Mark Twain. Once I tossed in the air an abstract question, was there some truth to the rumor that Mark Twain started his career as a newspaper boy? Before I knew it, black and white visions of shamanic underworld started to appear in front of me replacing one vision with another one, a vision of a provincial town’s center-point with some Lutheran Church across of a busy tavern, a marry drinking establishment across the solemn entrance to the House of God. These visions were surfacing from the deep depts of shamanic underworld, until I clearly heard a male voice.   

“… Do not bother me, girl, I am sleepy… as a boy, I was a paper hawker shouting out memorable titles that sold papers to the curious morning crowd. So, I learned that newspapermen are not made equal, some were more popular than the others, and in my chest was growing and growing the burning desire to become one of them, the famous one, better than they all together, because I knew I would do better. …I would morph into Sally with her limited mind, and large heart encompassing the abandoned boys named Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, also Mississippi river and all those funny folks in misery that were floating (in rusty fishermen boats) back and forth by the great river, seeking food and roof and piece of fleeting happiness… but all they found were dreams of heavenly paradise at the end of their lives on earth. If you have some guts, write what they found instead.”

“Who needs these newspapers? Selling headlines, I realized the price of a powerful word. To write is to string words one to another in a phrase — or you string diamonds, or pellets of mouse droppings. This is my gift to you as a keepsake, and do not wake me up anymore, I was about to fall asleep, and you woke me up again … Even then, selling newspapers, I began to write down interesting words, and when I sailed as a journalist in the Mississippi, I did not swim in the water, but in verbal abundance of folk speech, remember this. Your vocabulary is still poor, but your Mississippi will be in your destiny, just do not oversleep this sacred voyage, forget your lovers, husbands, children, fame, money, absorb the words, they are alive, they will tell your stories, not you – but they.”

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