By Michael Shelden
Someday in past due 1906, seventy-one-year-old Mark Twain attended a gathering on copyright legislation on the Library of Congress. the arriving of the well-known writer prompted the standard stir—but then Twain took off his overcoat to bare a "snow-white" adapted go well with and scandalized the room. His surprising outfit appalled and extremely joyful his contemporaries, yet excess of that, as Pulitzer Prize finalist Michael Shelden exhibits during this exceptional new biography, Twain had brilliantly staged this act of showmanship to cement his picture, and his own legend, within the public's mind's eye. That afternoon in Washington, lower than 4 years earlier than his dying, marked the start of a colourful, tumultuous interval in Twain's existence that may form a lot of the now-famous photo through which he has turn out to be known—America's indomitable icon, the guy in White.
Although Mark Twain has lengthy been one in all our such a lot liked literary figures—Time journal has declared him "our unique superstar"—his ultimate years were mostly misunderstood. regardless of relations tragedies, Twain's final part- decade was once one of the so much dynamic classes within the author's existence. With the spirit and energy of a guy fifty years more youthful, he persisted to fire up hassle, perfecting his ability for residing huge. Writing eternally and regularly prepared with considered one of his mythical quips, Twain might hazard his fortune, turn into the keen sufferer of a lost-at-sea hoax, and choose fights with King Leopold of Belgium and Mary Baker Eddy.
Drawing on a few unpublished assets, together with Twain's personal journals, letters, and a revealing four-hundred-page own account stored less than wraps for many years (and nonetheless but to be published), Mark Twain: guy in White brings the mythical author's twilight years vividly to lifestyles, delivering marvelous insights, together with an intimate, gentle examine his relatives lifestyles. packed with high-quality scholarship, infrequent and never-published Twain pictures, pleasant anecdotes, and remarkable fees, together with a number of recovered Twainisms, this definitive biography of Twain's final years offers a striking portrait of the fellow himself and of the unforgettable period in American letters that, in lots of methods, he helped to create.
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Extra resources for Mark Twain: Man in White: The Grand Adventure of His Final Years
The deal called for Twain to be paid $30,000. For that much money, white suits and funny parties were easy ways for the author to advertise himself and his autobiography-in-progress. It was also a great pleasure for him to pretend that he could be an old reprobate and stay up late and get drunk if he wanted to. During the long years of his marriage to the very proper Olivia Langdon, he wouldn’t have dared to throw a big New Year’s Eve party in which he played an alcoholic. ” But, much as he adored his wife’s memory, he clearly relished the freedom to take new liberties with his public image.
To imagine the old senator in the clutches of the devil was at least some compensation for having been forced to endure his presence on that long winter evening. And though there was a serious point to be made about society’s worship of men like Clark, there was also for Twain the sheer delight of cutting one of the high and mighty down to size, and doing it in a style meant to shock and amuse. Because it was too risky to expose him while he was alive, all the pleasure of abusing the senator had to be enjoyed in private.
But the colony’s political and social concerns didn’t interest Twain as much as its natural beauty and its peaceful atmosphere. For the most part, he went there to relax and dream, and to congratulate himself on finding a place that seemed to have been made for him. … NOT ALL TWAIN’S OUTINGS that winter turned out well. In January he was a reluctant guest at a disastrous weekend dinner honoring one of the richest and most powerful politicians of the time— United States senator William Andrews Clark.