Exhibit Information

Morgan Library & Museum

Address 225 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Click here for quick directions
Phone Number 212-685-0008

Website http://www.themorgan.org

Mark Twain: A Skeptic’s Progress

Opening: 9/17/2010 - Closing: 1/2/2011

This year is the 100th Anniversary of the Death of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain.

Although the Bancroft-Library of the University of California at Berkeley has the main-mass of the Mark-Twain-Papers & is finally issuing his Autobiography—which he stipulated could not be published until a 100 years after his death—the Morgan Library & the New York Public Library insist that they hold "two of the world’s great collections of Manuscripts, Rare-Books, Letters, & other items related to Twain’s life.”

These varied holdings make possible the current show at the Morgan Library, titled Mark Twain: A Skeptic’s Progress. The Organizing-Spine of the exhibition is a Central & Recurring-Theme throughout the author’s work: his uneasy, often critical, attitude towards a Rapidly-Modernizing America.

The show, however, is not a Death-Year-Celebration. Instead, it coincides with the 175th Anniversary of Samuel Clemens’ Birth in 1835.

It presents more than 120 Manuscripts & Rare-Books, including original manuscript-pages from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn [1885] & Life on the Mississippi [1883], as well as Letters, Notebooks, Diaries, Photographs, & Drawings associated with the author’s life and work.

[Adapted from the Morgan’s Press-Release:]

Twain’s Life spanned an Era that saw much of the World—America, in particular—embrace the Industrial-Revolution. With the expansion of Transportation & Communications-Technology, there was a Cultural-Shift from Small-Town & Rural-Concerns to a large-scale National-Agenda, centered on Big-Cities.

As a young man, Twain had traveled by Foot, Horse, & Riverboat. As a Mature-Man—one of the most widely-traveled Americans—he journeyed by International-Steamship & Railroad. Twain even saw the Advent of the Automobile.

For Twain, such technological, industrial, & urban-developments were the means by which America might become a more Prosperous & Just Society & also realize the Nineteenth-Century-Dream of Universal-Progress.

While he saw this Achievement embodied by the concentration of Educational & Cultural-Institutions in Northern-Cities & Towns, his conflicted Love-Affair with his Native-South & its Traditions, his close observation of the Natural-World, & his skepticism about changing Human-Nature made him doubtful about the effectiveness of these means or even the possibility of Human-Progress.

In his last 20 years, the Skeptic saw his Worst-Fears justified by the advance of European-Imperialism & its attendant Atrocities in Africa & Asia, as well as by America’s own Expansionist-Ambitions. Throughout his long Life’s-Journey, only his Faith in the clarity & cleansing-possibilities of the Written-Word remained constant.

Mark Twain: A Skeptic’s Progress captures the Essence of the author’s Wit, Humor, & Philosophy towards his Era’s great changes in all their guises, with examples of his work as a Novelist, Short-story Writer, Fabulist, Critic, Lecturer, & Travel-Writer.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was the Quintessential-American-Author, Humorist, Lecturer, Essayist, & Master of Satire. Twain enjoyed immense Public-Popularity during his lifetime, becoming a friend to Presidents, Artists, Industrialists, & Royalty.

The exhibition features extensive portions of Autograph-Manuscripts of two key-nonfiction-works: Life on the Mississippi & Following the Equator. The latter uses Savage-Sarcasm to express his outrage at the Crimes that the Western-Colonial-Powers perpetrated on the Native-Populations of Africa, Asia, & Australasia.

Twain criss-crossed the Atlantic more than a dozen times & also visited Turkey, Palestine, Hawaii, Australia, India, & South-Africa. Wherever he went, he always absorbed the Scenery & in his mind played the part of the American-Vandal, the Rube-Traveler who pretends to understand things he doesn’t.

But reading pages & pages of Twain’s writing & proof-reading in glass-cases can become Eye-Straining, so the Illustration-Mock-Ups for Following the Equator are a welcome-relief.

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