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The New York Times, February 7, 1911


Mark Twain's Copy of Sarah Grand's Work, with Notations, Up for Sale.

Mark Twain's copy of "The Heavenly Twins," by Sarah Grand, with the reading of which he beguiled his time during one of his sea voyages, will be sold at Anderson's on Feb. 17 [sic], and it is of especial interest, as it contains numerous autograph notes scattered throughout the book, giving his opinions of it. The story at first did not please him, and his comments are severely critical, but as he proceeded he found things that met with his approbation.

On Page 74 he writes: "Thus far the twins are valueless lumber, and an impertinent and offensive intrusion." On Page 149 he says: "Blank paper, in the place of these twins, would be a large advantage to the book." On other pages he writes: "These twins are 30 years old" and "Are these tiresome creatures supposed to be funny?" And again, "these disgusting creatures talk like Dr. Johnson and act like idiots. The authoress thinks that this silly performance of theirs is humorous."

"The art of all this," he says on Pages 274 and 275, "is intolerably bad. It is literary 'prentice work. *** This is wretchedly done. A cat could do better literature than that." Further on he says, "The writer preserves her dignity and her sanity, except when she is talking about her putrid twins. Then she is vulgar and idiotic."

Of Chapter 6 he observes: "A difficult chapter to write well - but she did it." On Page 341 he says: "With the twins left out, this book is more than good; it is great, and packed full of hideous truths, powerfully stated. I will not sit in judgment upon the Englishwoman, who disapproved of this book - she has done that herself. While it is true that the American woman is and always has been a coward and a slave, like her sex, everywhere, she has escaped some of the degradations of her English sister - degradations whose source is rank and caste, the sacredness of property and the tyranny of a heartless, political church. Speaking of the sacredness of property - how England does adore the Almighty Farthing."

On Page 407 he says: "It is very curious. There is nothing but labored and lubberly and unsuccessful attempts at humor concerning the twins up to Chapter 7, Book III., but all this about the boy in this Book IV. is very good fun indeed." His final comment is: "The grammar is often dreadful - even hideous - but never mind that; it is a strong, good book."

Related article: The New York Times, February 8, 1911 - TWAIN MANUSCRIPTS SOLD

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