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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mark Twain, Deceitful Turkeys, Offensive Clocks, and Green Turtle Soup

Source: Detroit Public Library
In time for Thanksgiving, The Library of America’s Story of the Week is Mark Twain’s “Hunting the Deceitful Turkey,” a childhood memory published in 1906 and originally written as a sketch for his Autobiography.

Maud Newton, the critic and blogger who happens to be a (very) distant relative of Mark Twain, has uncovered another Twain-related item for the holiday: a cartoon drawn by American caricaturist Thomas Nast. Twain spent the Thanksgiving holiday in 1885 at Nast’s home and got up in the middle of the night to stop all the clocks that were keeping him awake, inspiring the artist to create the drawing shown here and send it to Twain as a gift. (The caption reads, “Thomas Nast's cartoon of Mark Twain collecting the offending clocks.”)

Newton also points her readers to a third curio, posted by Macy Halford on The New Yorker’s Book Bench blog: a menu for Twain’s seventieth birthday dinner a few days after Thanksgiving in 1905. Also shown (for comparison) is another menu for a Thanksgiving feast in 1900 at New York’s Park Avenue Hotel. Most intriguing (or yucky, depending on your taste) is the presence of green turtle soup on both menus. The gluttonous feast leads Halford to conclude that “even the richest among us do not eat Thanksgiving like the rich of 1900.”

Relate LOA volume: The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Works

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