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Add to My CitationsTo Orion Clemens
6 May 1880 • Hartford, Conn.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCCL 01799)
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May 6.

My Dear Bro—

It is a model autobiography.

Continue to develop your own character in the same gradual, inconspicuous & apparently unconscious way. When Don’t The reader, up to this time, may have his doubts, perhaps, but he can’t even say decidedly, “This read writer is not such a simpleton as he has been letting on to be.” Keep him in that state of mind. If, when you shall have finished, the reader shall say, “The man is an ass, but I really don’t know whether he knows it or not,” your work will be a triumph.

Stop re-writing. I saw places in your last batch where re-writing had done formidable injury. Do not try to find those places, else you will mar them further by trying to better them. It is perilous to revise a book while it is under way. All of us have injured our books in that foolish way.

Keep in mind what I told you—when you recollect something which belonged in an earlier chapter, do not go back, but jam it in where you are. Discursiveness does not hurt an autobiography in the least.

I have penciled the MS here & there, but have not needed to make any criticisms or knock out anything.

The elder Bliss has heart disease badly, & henceforth his life hangs upon a thread.

I have written [in bottom margin: OVER] Frank about the Keokuk agency.

Livy tolerably well; children hearty. All send love.

Yr Bro



Orion Clemens, Esq | Keokuk | Iowa. [postmarked:] hartford conn. may 8 11am

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, CU-MARK.

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyphMTL, 1:378–79, partial publication; MicroML, reel 4.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphSee Mark Twain Papers in Description of Provenance.