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Add to My Citations To Orion Clemens
30 April 1871 • Elmira, N.Y.
(MS: NPV, UCCL 00609)
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Elmira, 30.

Dear Bro:

I do not wish to write on the subject of articles any [more. Leave] me out of the paper except once in 3 6 months., & don’t write me anything more about it—either you or Bliss. I know that you both mean the very best for me, but you are wrong.

You both wrote me discouraging [letters. Yours] stopped my pen for two days—Bliss’s stopped it for three. Hereafter my wife will read my Hartford letters & if they are of the the same nature, keep them out of my hands. The idea of a newspaper editor & a publisher plying with dismal letters a man who is under contract to write humorous books for them!1

I sent Bliss MSS yesterday, up to about 100 pages2 of MSd.

Don’t be in a great hurry getting out the specimen chapters for canvassers, for I want the chapter I am writing now in it—& it is away up to page 750 of the MS.3 I would like to select the “specimen” chapters myself (along with Joe Goodman, who writes by my side every day up at the farm).4 Joe & I have a 600-page book in contemplation which will wake up the nation. It is a thing which David Gray & I have talked over with David Gray a good deal, & he wanted me to do it right & just & well—which I couldn’t without a [ re ] man to do the accurate drudgery and some little other writing. But Joe is the party. This present book will be a tolerable success—possibly an excellent success if the chief newspapers start it off well—but the other book will be an awful success.5 The only trouble is, how I am to hang on to Joe till I publish this present book & another before I begin on the joint one.6

When is the selection to be made for the specimen chapters?

Ys

Sam

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Clemens had already responded briefly to Orion’s letter (18 Apr 71 to OC). Bliss’s 22 April letter read as follows:
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In remarking on the diminished public “desire” for a book by Mark Twain, Bliss alluded to the damage done by the (Burlesque) Autobiography, a work he had opposed (27 Jan 71 to Sheldon, n. 1; 26 Apr 71 to Fairbanks, n. 1).

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2 That is, manuscript for chapters 12–15—which became chapters 12–14 and Appendixes A and B in Roughing It. The subjects were Clemens’s journey through Utah, his arrival in Salt Lake City, and his encounters with Mormons and Mormon history. These chapters were the same ones that Clemens again claimed, three days later, to have mailed “yesterday” (3 May 71 to Bliss; RI 1993, 814, 851).

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3 Most likely chapter 34, the story of the landslide case hoax. Clemens had probably reached the end of it or the beginning of chapter 35 (RI 1993, 814–15, 851). Neither was used for the prospectus.

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4 In addition to his planned novel, Goodman might have been working on some of his poetry (10 Jan 70 to OLL [2nd]; 18 Apr 71 to OC)—or perhaps on The Psychoscope: A Sensational Drama in Five Acts, which he co-authored with Rollin M. Daggett, another Nevada friend of Clemens’s, and published in Virginia City in 1871.

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5 The subject of the planned collaborative novel conceivably was Washington, D.C., where, in July 1870, Clemens had gathered material that he hoped to use in a book (8 July 70 to OLC; 17 or 24 Aug 70? to PAM).

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6 Clemens had contracted for two works to follow Roughing It: the South African diamond mine book and a volume of sketches (see Contract for Diamond Mine Book; and ET&S1, 435).



glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Jean Webster McKinney Family Papers, Vassar College Library (NPV).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L4, 386–88; MTBus, 118–19; Chester L. Davis 1954, 4.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphsee McKinney Family Papers in Description of Provenance.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph


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