November 11, 2010
Mrs. Nixon encourages public to visit Mark Twain landmarks in Missouri
First Lady Georganne Nixon gives remarks at Kansas City Public Library celebration of Mark Twain autobiography
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - First Lady Georganne Nixon spoke at the Kansas City Public Library on Wednesday evening (Nov. 10) at an event marking the publication of a new autobiography of celebrated Missouri author Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens). Twain left instructions that some of the most controversial and inflammatory sections of his 5,000-page autobiography not be published until 100 years after his death; Twain died on April 21, 1910.
Mrs. Nixon underscored the importance of Twain's upbringing in Missouri, which was reflected in the language and landscape of his writing, including "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," and "Life on the Mississippi."
"Just as Missouri shaped his character, it also shaped his writing," Mrs. Nixon said. "Twain's work - by turns romantic and cynical, caustic and humorous - lays bare the political foibles and social structure of his era. And flowing through it all is a vivid portrait of life on the Mississippi at a time when America was in the throes of an unruly adolescence. One hundred years after his death, Twain's writing still has a throbbing pulse, and a mocking, no-holds-barred sensibility that is thoroughly modern. His reading of American culture has not lost its pertinence."
The First Lady also urged the public to visit Twain landmarks in Missouri, including the Mark Twain Birthplace Historic Site in Florida, Mo.; Mark Twain State Park in Monroe County and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal.
Twain scholar Robert H. Hirst, general editor and official curator of the Mark Twain Papers and Project at the University of California - Berkeley, was the featured speaker at the event. The new book, "Autobiography of Mark Twain: The Complete and Authoritative Edition, Volume 1," is published by University of California Press.