During our week’s absence visiting our palatial (700 sq. foot) mansion in Michiana, I have engaged the assistance of a substitute writer.
Ladies and gentlemen,
May I present Mr. Samuel “Mark Twain” Clemens.
Go easy on him, will ya?
He’s no Pomerantz, but who is?
In this Autobiography I shall keep in mind the fact that I am speaking from the grave. I am literally speaking from the grave, because I shall be dead when the book issues from the press.
I speak from the grave rather than with my living tongue, for a good reason: I can speak thence freely. When a man is writing a book dealing with the pravacies of his life – a book which is to be read while he is still alive – he shrinks from speaking his whole frank mind; all his attempts to do it fail, he recognizes that he is trying to do a thing which is wholly impossible to a human being.
The frankest and freest and privatest product of the human mind and heart is a love letter; the writer gets his limitless freedom of statement and expression from his sense that no stranger is going to see what he is writing.
Sometimes there is a breach-of-promise case by and by; and when he sees his letter in print it makes him cruelly uncomfortable and he perceives that he never would have unbosomed himself to that large and honest degree if he had known that he was writing for the public. He cannot find anything in that letter that was not true, honest, and respect-worthy; but no matter, he would have been very much more reserved if he had known he was writing for print.
It has seemed to me that I could be as frank and free and unembarrassed as a love letter if I knew that what I was writing would be exposed to no eye until I was dead, and unaware, and indifferent.