tv Book Discussion on Mark Twains America CSPAN November 5, 2016 4:00pm-4:56pm EDT
follow us on twitter @ c-spanhistory to keep up with the latest history news. >> up next, harry katz speaks about "mark twain's america," and mark twain's influence on american culture. it is about 50 minutes. >> a little microphone adjustment. understandable. really happy to be here today because this is a culmination of about three years of wonderful work with my
author, harry katz. usually when we do a slideshow with these presentations, we are timing the talk or talking directly to the content of the slides. there are so many good slides today, harry and i decided to use them as wallpaper. we will run a slideshow, there 30 secondssumably for each side. there are about 70 slides. we may be referencing the slides occasionally, but we will be talking about the book in general. as you see the slides, if you have any questions, feel free to ask us at the end of the presentation. ado, t further a do -- , formerharry katz curator for the division of photographs at princeton. include civil war
sketchbook and great books with the publishing office, baseball americana. .ithout further ado, harry katz [applause] how is the sound, good? thank you for coming. it is wonderful for me to be back here. so many wonderful friends and former colleagues i recognize in the audience. it is a pleasure to be here. i am excited about this book. we are doing this little differently. ambitious mammoth, project to pull this material together. i could not have done it alone, and they did not. i had publishing office support. princeton phonograph division always has great professional staff.
wonderful images, putting everything online that they can. book,, starting with this -- as tom said, i have done a few books since i have been with the library. the inspiration, there are two parts. early 2010, i was working on a book about civil war sketch artists. i spoke to a friend who said, what will you do next? i said, i will finish this. how about mark twain? she lives in redding, connecticut, which is where he died. she has a son who every day on facebook would be quoting twain. around thee period, first volume of the autobiography. ands the digital age,
people are carrying around this six pound, eight pound book in 2010. they are reading mark twain's autobiography. it is huge, say, they are carrying it with them. twain -- how do i do mark twain? i work with pictures. at what the looking library had and what might be a pictureith twain in book i had the epiphany that yes, i can do this, but i have to do it my own way with pictures and text. that is when it took off. next thing we knew, that summer come all the book went sort of a viral.
it was number two on amazon, behind harry potter. harry potter and mark twain. the thing is, if you look online and on television, if you look anywhere, there is so much twain out there. he has become a cultural lightning rod. all have our own a mark twain and people all over the world have their own mark twain. we read it elsewhere because of its criticisms of american society. they are reading about politics in places and racism, all these things that are important around the world. twain was part of that conversation. that was the spark for me. there was an old guy, sitting on .he porch reading and yet, twain is everywhere. now at this time, we can
fully appreciate who he was and what he did. i needed to find out for myself because i read it twain all my life. i wanted tom to be up your with me because as i say, this was a team effort. the first thing, i am going to do this book on twain. the second thing, how am i going book this look on twain -- on twain? you get more familiar with twain , all the novels and sketches, the correspondents. words, words, words. 100,000, you,000, have to read them to understand twain. but pictures go beyond that. because you can see immediately what is happening, they are
visceral in a way that words are not. for me, words carry meaning. they are just as real as any document, in a lot of cases, they are more real because you can manipulate writing. it is harder to manipulate an image once it is taken, then to just manipulate what you are writing. for me, the exercise is to make sure every image in the book is not only what it represents, but that it is real. it is a real photograph from this period. these are not reproductions, 100 years back, these are period pieces from that library of artifacts,hese are just as strong and true as any document. we took this man, and in words
and pictures, cut back the layers of history, the layers of interpretation, the layers of our understanding that 100 years ago, throughout his life, we can really see who he was and what he was doing. many twain authors who have had to come to grips with twain himself. you are not dealing with one person, you are dealing with who is outside his time and yet firmly embedded in it at the same time. he is an avatar. he is this a literary god who understands the world. he has been everywhere, he traveled everywhere, worked everywhere. he met kings and queens and
royalty in europe. nevada,n the mines in he was among the literati in new york. it is the same guy, but there are so many angles and parts of twain, but i certainly needed lifejust to assemble his and go over the course of his life. i would like tom to actually talk a little bit about how we laid out the book, because that was very important. i spent so much time writing about twain, and getting to the point, you are not writing another biography of twain, we about what he meant to the country. history ofis long
reverence for twain. we wanted to explore that in a way in one volume where you could see the whole picture. out noteally started knowing. i knew there would be images we would see, and they would be wonderful things, but we did not know what. what we try to do, in organizing the book, was a chronology of his life. but to pick certain times in interestede, he was in certain subjects or became a certain kind of personality. five chapters are called "rivers of dreams," that is about life on the mississippi, and his youth, and hannibal. the second chapter was called "true west," about western swing.
twain's sojourn in the west, which got him out of serving in the civil war, and also where he made his bones as a writer. prospector,bad is a but he found his voice as a writer, which he already started finding when he was back in missouri. the third chapter is called trademark. that is when mark twain comes back to new york from the west and decides to make his living as a writer, and not just be a writer, but a public personality. in a way, mark twain was probably the first american writer, maybe the first american famous person to understand the idea of branding yourself. that takes us through the 1870's and 1880's. and we get to a point where mark twain becomes bigger than just a writer. he becomes an american oracle, that is our fourth chapter. he becomes the go to guy for
quotes. not just from his writing, but also from his speaking. he becomes a very famous public speaker and an incredible performer, as a live performer. and the fifth chapter, we circled back to talking about mark twain's circle, the family that nursed him, that he created with his wife, libby. the people he worked with and four, the rivals of my colleagues he had over the years, and finally, at the end of his life, a very constricting and different kind of circle of friends and relatives and acquaintances here it that is the way we organized the book. is, itz: the tough thing was ingenious, our former publishing head really helped me understand. this is a very difficult process. i have to look at pictures, his
writing, his life. mark twain did more in one year than most people did in a lifetime. if you look at his travel can find allu these wonderful maps and graphs, but he went everywhere. you look at the course of his life, nobody had traveled more and wrote more and see more. -- seen more. throughout his writings it is about what he is seeing and what he is observing, and this increasing sophistication of with his some on the pulse of the nation, and rides this wave of incredible popularity. one of the first images i remember in thinking about this "life on actually from the mississippi," where they
talk about the ambition of a steamboat. all the kids in hannibal wanted to be steamboat pilots or workers. that image of this young boy on the edge of civilization, the wilderness, by a big river, and how that river and all the things the carry, the people, the cargo, the steamboatmen themselves, all these things that enlivened twain's early imagination and early life -- but it is that image of him why on the outside of his growing civilization. by 1910 when he passes, he is living in an italianate villa outside new york city.
how do you get from this uneducated, belligerent, wayward youth, to one of the most magnificent commentators we have ever seen? tot was the journey for me, take him from that riverbank, to really come a capital of the world, and the height of sophistication, of civilization. and by doing what we did, we essentially, for each chapter, we carried the same forward. chapter, the river of dreams chapter, we carry that theme of the river all the way through that chapter because he goes back to the river. 1851,ves hannibal about does some traveling to the east coast cities, doing journey man hannibal,goes back to
becomes a steamboat pilot. within the onset of the civil war he goes west. we carry the river through his life, last time he was in hannibal was 19 o2, when he caught up with all of his old friends who had been basically the models for the people in "huckleberry finn." there is always a return to hannibal, the river, his roots. he never goes back to the south to live. in his writing, the south becomes another land, in a way. potential, so much but burdened by history and a feudal sensibility, almost. it keeps the south from advancing into the 20th century. he writes at length about those
things. when he goes west into the the trip described in "roughing it, is absolutely hysterical. onto thes brother get stagecoach, his brother will be the secretary of the territory of nevada, which has just been opened. there was really nothing there except some mining communities. went,at is where they bute twain found not gold, a lifetime of creativity in writing. that is where he launched himself into the role of writing, professionally. again, chapter two, we talked about the west. in chapter three, we talked isut its creativity, developing a professional persona.
do you want to talk a little bit about that? yes, the interesting yoedg about twain, he yo- across the country, to find out who he was and what he wanted to do when he grew up. in some ways, he never grew up. that was the charm of him, what attracted people to him. when twain arrived in new york in 1867, new york was the place to be, even then. especially as a writer. was, that understood not only were there a lot of writers, but artists and interesting culture. personalitieslic like beecher. twain made a point of going to his church, but also, to be seen.
he had an ambition that if he would be a public personality, he had to be seen in the right places. so he did lectures. he was probably america's greatest lecturer at a time when they were a great public entertainment, this was pre- electronic media. he was funny, provocative, witty, personable. people loved to hear mark twain spin his tales. to -- into alf in public personality in an arena where the public would know him. his first big break as a writer came when he discovered that beecher was taking a group of pilgrims across the ocean to the holy land. , formalhe first real uise in american
history. it was for pleasure, but also educational. they called them pilgrims. it was for many, a pilgrimage by boat. the first public cruise. mr. wiener: twain decided it was a great subject to write about. he did not go because he himself he was religious -- religious, but a religious skeptical devout person. he decided to go on to the cruise to check it out and write about it as it was happening. notes, met a lot of people, got to be friends with a lot of people, including his future brother-in-law. they arrived in the holy land and went to other sites in europe. he wrote notes, said them back to a newspaper in california, they started publishing these stories, and they were a big sensation. and he went, wait a minute, i can turn this into a book.
that is what he did. -- that really launched his career as a writer of books. mr. katz: those books were distributed in a different way. an americanr publishing company which was a subscription book service. subscription books were sold door-to-door, like bibles or encyclopedias or vacuum leaders. -- youa different set up would need a community and distribution network, but the ,ublishers, it was very popular getting to people that do not always read books. one of the reasons is because they are visual. these books have pictures. they have pictures of twain illustrations from the
text, by some of the best illustrators of the era. not only were their images from the book, but there were images of twain. so he became known. these books were not meant to be read, they were meant to be read aloud. -- whole notion of how fat of how families got to -- together, they would gather and you say,arth, my goodness. industrial age, they are sitting in a stuffy parlor and reading these amazing sentences with humor, sacrilege, although wonderful things you would not want your kids to learn. you are now reading it out loud to your kids.
it is very subversive in that way. and it is subversive in a visual way, which appeals to me, because the illustrations not take what was only becoming before thecountry, 1840's and 1850's, there was very little in the way of education. out, when his books came there was enough of an audience that could read, could be read to, and just look at the pictures. even if you cannot get every word or understand everything, you can see what is happening. and that was the big difference for twain. not only in branding himself, but in using illustrations to bring in as many readers as possible. and of the interesting jumping off point from "the innocents abroad," what you do to follow up a huge bestseller?
twain did "roughing it," which did well. his next book was, what i would rrant novelst au cu he wrote, "the gilded age." it was something he and his co-author got up to describe an era in which people were more interested in making money than anything else. they were not interested in helping their fellow man, they just wanted to make money. if that sounds familiar, just pick your own thoughts. it was a great satire about washington politics, lobbyists, lawyers, dreamers, schemers. there was even a character named washington in it. for $10,000 you could have a senator. for another $10,000 you could
get a terrific female lobbyist to lobby that senator. twain, too much about go back and look at politics. it was written in 1873, "the gilded age." and so many ways, twain was before his time, outside of his time. he saw these things. because he was an outsider, he had an incredibly fertile brain, and incredibly sensitive personality, he was sickly when he was born. inhink there was something him, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, that really connected with life. connected with people. and that is something i found that is quite extraordinary about him. then twain takes
another left turn in his career. he kind of goes backward. first of all, he is asked by one of the leading editors of the day, one of his friends, to write a book about his youth in the mississippi. tales,ould spin these talk to his friends about life growing up in hannibal and what it was like in the pre-civil war days. .e wrote a series of articles these start up something inside of him. he realized he had some unresolved issues with his upbringing. resentful, but he was still processing what it was like. it was very, very different before the civil war in the south. in some ways, because of the steamboat trade. but also, there was a different atmosphere. in acides to mine that
very accessible, approachable, popular way. was, "the adventures of tom sawyer." kids growing up and adults, were making his life miserable. he came up with this brilliant idea to encapsulate this pre-war, south, mississippi river kind of society. it was a huge, huge seller. he inevitably had to write a sequel to it. it was not only inevitable financially, but inevitable emotionally for him, to go and take that material and turn it. not upside down, but in such a way that it became a lot darker and i would say, more interesting. and that is, "huckleberry finn." that is another long step behind "tom sawyer," in
terms of social commentary. 1885, and you are talking about a country in reconstruction, building at a the generation of the wars turning over again, the country is taking a look back. is stripping doing the world of its allusions -- illusions. when they are gone, what you have left? much part ofvery my effort to strip away those illusions, to see what twain was like in his era. example, there is a popular
print from the princeton photographs division. numerous play scripts. he was very into drama and theater. many of the principal theatrical people. he developed his own stage scripts. what we found are all these personal interests and tangents, ,hether it is his dual identity the siamese twins, there was always a duality in his books. of --nd evil, a duality you have two people in one body,
samuel clemens and mark twain. this was an idea that captured his imagination. it showed throughout his writings. we're trying to show those connections, what made it twain different? why do we need another 20 book? -- why do we need another twain book? it shows you in plain imagery what he looked like and what the country was doing at the time, why he was embraced, why he became who he was. and 1884,answer that, they went on a sub -- spectacularly successful toward the stage. twain and the cable -- and cabl
e, twins of genius. seeing his life in this context, i think was extraordinary. he was so conscious of what he was doing. it was so effective. i think now about twain and his life, and the twittersphere, and the internet, it is pervasive. everyone around the world, or one reason or another, religion, race, childhood, , all of thesel things, he embeds into his books. because they were all things he
thought about all the time. and i hope in the end what comes from this book is that people this ise an idea that not mark twain and samuel clemens, this is one person, one fertile brain that is not jon writers,r a crowd of this is just one man working at his desk. and we forget that. we have to go back to that time and how he it was, became our most legendary and prolific writer. the interesting turning point in twain's personal life, which i think affected his writing a lot was moving to europe in 1891. as you have seen in the previous slides, he lived in a beautiful house in hartford. if you ever get a chance to go to his house, it is right up
there with monticello as one of the great american houses of a famous person. he built his house, he and his wife designed custom. they lived there with their daughters. this -- the expense of keeping up the house, the family and friends dropping in for overnight stays, staying there two weeks later. and, to have mark twain there for dinner, spinning stories, who would want to leave? the expense of keeping it up, and his personal setbacks with finances forced him to move to europe in 1891. it was actually cheaper to live in europe than it was to live in hartford, believe it or not. here is what happened. twain lost physical touch with america. he still came back to new york, but it was a different kind of writing that he was doing. he was more interested in the
present day, he was commenting on the present day, he was concerned about things like the trust. he became concerned in 1890's with imperialism. he was against some of teddy roosevelt's ventures abroad, and considered him one of the worst presidents we ever had, believe it or not. he changed, in terms of the kind of writing he was doing, he was still do a sustained novel from time to time, like "a connecticut yankee," but it was not the same energy or attention to detail that he had in his earlier writing. and they were not as popular. still said that, he was an immensely influential and popular person, as a public personality. we should probably finish up and get on to some questions. you see these creators.
's most prolific and happiest time was in 1870's and 1880's when they lived in hartford with his family and everything seemed wonderful. theatricals with his girls out in the yard, they did all these wonderful, wonderful things. foras incredibly productive him. professionally, financially he did very well. but as tom said, life caught up with him and his decision-making. there was a series of ongoing tragedies within his family. at the same time he is enjoying all of this incredible, popular success, his family is starting to deteriorate. and it becomes very painful to watch, to see what happens. but for me, that is just life. that is what we all go through. and he is not alone.
unique, and the way he made his own life accessible, he was the ultimate celebrity. he was the ultimate reality tv celebrity because he opened his life up, his personal and professional life, up to people. they would read about him all the time. in the newspapers, always in the news, because he knew that the people were his audience. they were the ones he wanted to spend time with. life,n see throughout his mixing with everybody from presidents to poppers. -- paupers. about, this is a story perseverance, resilience, re-creation, reinvention. he goes everywhere in the world and he recycles old
things but creates new inventions. he is very well read in the sciences, well read and politics. it shows. as a result, we are left with this boy from the river who goes on to this career in the 1870's. and roastsboston oliver wendell holmes and all of the great boston writers in the 1870's at this dinner. it is a complete fiasco. but at the end of his life, here he is, he is one of these literati. in the establishment. but you get there from hannibal, that is a long way. this house, these amazing writers, if you consider that group, the degrees from oxford,
the literary attention that was shown to him, and yet still, he never lost the child within him. he never lost the kid by the river who was open to everything and completely transparent. and i think that is really the wonderful story about twain. is, who he became and how consciously he worked to become man. [applause] mr. katz: thank you. [applause] we will open the floor to questions. mr. wiener: if you have questions about specific slides, let us know. we can bring it back up. hold on, we need a microphone. his life,the end of
he wrote "the mysterious stranger." literary critics have a backend d that because they see a revelation of his vision of how dark the world had become, almost to the point of nihilism. i was wondering, do you think his really did express true, utter pessimism about life toward the end of his life? she asked a question about "the mysterious stranger, a late novel that he wrote that was not publish in his lifetime. it is a very, very dark story living inoup of boys a small village who encounter the title character who turns out to be the devil incarnate. is about the duality of man's nature, the dark and the like. but mostly about the dark.
mr. katz: his life really took a 1890's.the going through bankruptcy and having to work back from that, losing his daughter, suzy. ill, libby was always very vulnerable and always sick. the 1890's became a really difficult time. this was his darkening path. early, he did talk about to validate and god versus the devil, satan. it becomes far more prevalent. the clouds gather and get darker and darker and darker as you mid-1890's up until his death in 1910. abouts on rants anti-imperialism, rants about
religion, rants against his christian god. and it was his christian god. he was a religious person who was incredibly skeptical. godaid, how could our create such a flawed thing as man? and that is what he felt. he felt his flaws, saw his flaws. yet, he pushed forward and pushed through them and kept moving. i think that is his big lesson, that we are all flawed and human. -- in a sense, all damped damned. but you get up and push for something new because you are curious, engaged. you will make mistakes, but those mistakes are just part of being human. yes, the writing that much darker as it went along. mysterious stranger," was published after his death because it was not something that the fans of "huckleberry
finn," would necessarily like. absolutely lot of fantastic late, critical writing. dark, but it was human. and, very humane. and that is where i leave off with twain, how human he was. he saw himself as flawed and damned, but he said, i will do it anyway. mr. wiener: any other questions? right here. >> i have a question about "huckleberry finn." in our lifetime, there are times when it has been banned or labeled as controversial. lifetime, was there ever any question about the morality or intention? absolutely, it was far more controversial than than it
is now. these books were to be read aloud. you are bringing in all this twain language and twain , bullng, hell, damn garrity, race relations. vulgarity,n a way -- race relations. he did it in a way, in connecticut, it was banned. pale that youthe would have this writing in the youth market, the family market. and it was extremely controversial. nowadays, yes, there are people that suggest that the language, the n-word is something that does not belong. if you take them out, you change it completely. mind is no question in my
-- twain grew up among slaves, but his experience, they were part of his family, his life, his world. to becomem a while more worldly, more aware of the true lives of black people in and native americans. when he was young he had those young ideas, he did not see much wrong with it. but immediately when he came into contact with the libby's family, a northeast, progressive forly, abolitionists, emancipation. he was from the deep south and married into that family. he wants to be part of that family, and he meets frederick douglass and becomes much more aware beyond the personal.
up,can watch them growing watch him mature with his writings. hishe end of the lot -- life he is ranting and raving, that he has come a long way in terms of his appreciation for the difference in variety of american life. he was a democrat in the broadest possible sense. one says, "a most democratic writer." he is writing about our democracy, which is about freedom, independence, the two words twain longed for. he talked about the independent riverboat pilot, the king of all he surveyed, and could not be crossed.
i think there is a sense in him as a writer, as a commentator, that he had achieved the freedom and independence. independence he never achieved was that from his god, which drove him crazy. because that responsibility to god and religion, he could not get rid of it. that is where his frustration came, it was within the realm of religion. he was not free to do with that -- to do whatever he wanted. mr. wiener: i would say one thing about "huckleberry finn," for my personal experience. i was in fourth grade, our teacher read "tom sawyer" allowed to us every afternoon for about an hour. we loved it, we aided up, this was about 1955, 1956. we all said, we know there is another book he wrote about those same characters, "huckleberry finn."
book to, it is a harder read. she waltzed around it, she did not want to read it to us. it was only later when we read it that we understood. it was more sophisticated and darker. if you can imagine people in the 19th century being set up with " tom sawyer," and here is another book about those young scams on the river, let's read this. three chapters and you realize, these are not the young scams we remember. they're the same characters, but definitely a different point of view. that was the thing that set people off about "huckleberry finn." be appreciated it in his time, but even more so later on when assad in the broad context of his career -- when they saw it in the broad context of his career. he did not just do the same book over and over, as we have seen. one more question.
>> would you compare and the way in which twain is perceived in his homeland today, america, with how he is perceived elsewhere in the world? the question is, how would we compare twain's reputation in america with his reputation around the world. for all his anti-imperialism, twain was, his books were sold around the world through the english trade market, which was quite an imperial empire. finn" was published first in england. the empire of britain actually embraced twain before we did.
there was a strong, european, twainlobal impulse toward that was probably stronger in some areas abroad than it was here. after "tom sawyer" and "huckleberry finn" he became one of our most celebrated writers. .here is no one who can compare after 1885, into the 1890's, when his message became more dark and complicated and less that is one maybe the book sales might have diminished. but when he died, there was an outpouring of love. for hisloved him honesty, as much as his imagination. 1890's when the books in the writings were there is a some diminishment in the popularity in this country.
allit was overwhelmingly, over the world, tributes came in at his passing. and there is no question he was the most well-traveled, well loved writer that we have ever seen. i think he is probably our most pervasive writer on the internet. [applause] mr. katz: thank you. [applause] speaking of book sales, sales and signings are part of books and beyond. i invite you to purchase a book at the library of congress discount and have a chance to get a signed by both authors and have a small chat with them about questions we have not had time to get answered. most of all, i want to thank of our co-presenters, harry and tom.
and the you have done resources of the library of congress is really remarkable. i went through the book, listening to you. you have not only taken the photographs collections, but all of it, your acknowledgment's of the many, many curators is remarkable. i want everyone to thank you for theway you have done library of congress proud. it was a wonderful presentation. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> on history bookshelf, here from the country's best-known american history writers of the , every saturday at
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