Tamra's Reviews > The Diaries of Adam and Eve

The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain
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Jan 08, 09

Recommended for: anyone who wants to laugh, but especially Twain fanatics
Read in January, 2009, read count: 2

This version contains the artwork published in the 1904 and 1906 editions of Extracts from Adam's Diary and Eve's Diary, respectively. The artwork that goes along with Extracts from Adam's Diary is HILARIOUS! Done in caveman-type etchings, by Adam himself. Can you get better than that? No. You can take or leave the artwork from Eve's Diary. Some of it's funny, but mostly it's just cute.

I also enjoyed the insights offered by other authors on the significance of Mark Twain (like I didn't know, but still, Twain was genius): One of them (Shelley Fisher Fishkin) said, "Although imitation-Hemingway and imitation-Faulkner writing contests draw hundreds of entries annually, no one has ever tried to mount a faux-Twain competition. Why? Perhaps because Mark Twain's voice is too much a part of who we are and how we speak even today. Roy Blount Jr. suggests that it is impossible, "at least for an American writer, to parody Mark Twain. It would be like doing an impression of your father or mother: he or she is already there in your voice.""

And the insights into the Adamic Diaries themselves. For instance, Twain originally wrote Extracts from Adam's Diary without the references to Niagra Falls. But he couldn't find a publisher for it. So he added the references, which made the whole piece much funnier, and it got published in a 1893 souvenir book called Niagara Book by Irving S. Underhill. People loved it this way, but Twain was never happy with it and re-wrote it several times, taking out the Niagra Falls references. So the way everyone loved it, the way it was publishable, was not the way Twain wanted it.

Also, he wanted Adam's and Eve's Diaries to be published together, which never happened in his lifetime nor any time soon thereafter.

I also learned, and I think this is important to note, that the other Adamic Diary pieces ("Passages from Satan's Diary," "Passage from Eve's Diary," "Adam's Soliloquy," and the "Autobiography of Eve") were not published during Twain's lifetime. I quote from Laura E. Skandera-Trombley: "While Extracts and Eve's Diary are overtly humorous in tone and effect, the works published posthumously are bitter and harshly satirical. William Macnaughton notes in Mark Twain's Last Years as a Writer that Extracts and Eve's Diary differ from the rest of the Adamic Diaries because they were written for a general audience the expected vintage, funny "Mark Twain," and claims that they "lack the complexity and pathos of the posthumous diairies.""

All-in-all, the book is a fantastic read and the artwork is extremely funny. The Diaries will only take you an hour or so to read. The extra essays by modern authors are interesting and informative. (I still wouldn't mind getting my hands on the extra Adamic Diary pieces, but they seem to be elusive.)
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message 1: by Melissa (new)

Melissa ah :) do you find this topic is ok for laughing ?:)


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