|Speeches can be conveyed in print, but not
talks. Speeches consist of literarily phrased and completed sentences, and
they read smoothly and intelligibly, but this is not the case with talks.
The soul of a talk consists of actions, not words; action, gesture, inflection
-- the unvoiced expression of the thought. These felicities escape the stenographer;
they are an aroma; he cannot concrete them into words; the words are not
there; none but the inconsequential sentences are completed; the happy ones
break off in the middle because the audience has got the point, it is not
necessary to finish the sentence, and the house would not hear the finish
anyhow. But the stenographer cannot leave the sentences in that broken condition,
for the result would be ragged, incoherent and incomprehensible; therefore
he finishes the broken sentences with words of his own, and the result is
stupendously unhappy. A talk cannot be conveyed in print successfully; there
is no way to do it, and the attempt should never be made.
- Autobiographical dictation of 26 July 1907, Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3 (University of California Press, 2015)
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