Batter up!

The 2018 baseball season opens today. I’ll be rooting for my hometown Phils, but don’t hold that against me. It’s likely that Mark Twain would be rooting for his own hometown Hartford Dark Blues, says the Major League Baseball website. At a dinner in 1889, Twain called the game “the outward and visible expression of […]

American humor, American blues

When it came to music, Mark Twain professed to enjoy only two kinds: the songs of American minstrelsy and the proto-ragtime compositions and performances by pianists like Blind John Boone and Blind Tom Wiggins, about whom Twain wrote a lengthy appreciation for the Alta California in 1869. Along with evincing a proto-ragtime performance style, Blind […]

The Innocents Abroad

I got around to finishing Mark Twain’s first book, The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrim’s Progress (1869), the other day. Although in structure it’s a rather helter-skelter parody of American travel literature of the period, there’s a deeper journey there too, suggested by Twain’s journey east, from modern America to the old Europe, then […]