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26 June, 2013
Mark Twain, A Biography Vol III, Part 2: 1907 - 1910|
by Paine, Albert Bigelow
|Every life is a drama--a play in all its particulars; comedy, farce,
tragedy--all the elements are there. To examine in detail any life,
however conspicuous or obscure, is to become amazed not only at the
inevitable sequence of events, but at the interlinking of details, often
far removed, into a marvelously intricate pattern which no art can hope
to reproduce, and can only feebly imitate.
The biographer may reconstruct an episode, present a picture, or reflect
a mood by which the reader is enabled to feel something of the glow of
personality and know, perhaps, a little of the substance of the past. In
so far as the historian can accomplish this his work is a success. At
best his labor will be pathetically incomplete, for whatever its detail
and its resemblance to life, these will record mainly but an outward
expression, behind which was the mighty sweep and tumult of unwritten
thought, the overwhelming proportion of any life, which no other human
soul can ever really know.
Mark Twain's appearance on the stage of the world was a succession of
dramatic moments. He was always exactly in the setting. Whatever he
did, or whatever came to him, was timed for the instant of greatest
effect. At the end he was more widely observed and loved and honored
than ever before, and at the right moment and in the right manner he
How little one may tell of such a life as his! He traveled always such a
broad and brilliant highway, with plumes flying and crowds following
after. Such a whirling panorama of life, and death, and change! I have
written so much, and yet I have put so much aside--and often the best
things, it seemed afterward, perhaps because each in its way was best and
the variety infinite. One may only strive to be faithful--and I would
have made it better if I could.