Mark Twain quote about his father's surprising maturation (antedating attrib circa 1915) (req paper verification)

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 9 01:17:31 UTC 2010

Oh, good! Wouldn't want to go error-free! Thanks!

No, seriously, I am glad there is always someone here to catch the errors.

I might have exhausted my search tricks (they are not very complicated),
but it still confirms the earlier tentative push-back to 1916--even
without verifying the other source and even though this one has slightly
different content (age difference).

I've also spotted that among the 1934-35 sources I mentioned earlier,
one is from the Philippines and refers to the ages of 15 and 20 rather
than 14/21, 14/18/22 or 17/23/25.

So there seem to be several different versions of the line with somewhat
different semantics. Two parallel threads involve two vs. three
different ages. There are also different versions with the first age
being 14 and 17--with an outlier with 15. If the original 1916 reference
is verified, it would mean that all the different versions propagated in
parallel, all at the same time, as opposed to evolving from one into the
other. Alone, however, this says nothing about the veracity of the
attribution--it is possible that this was a common line from Twain's
speaking engagements that might have been presented differently at
different times, or it might have been an independently coined comment
that later became attributed to Mark Twain because it sounded like
something he might have said. I've seen a number of quotations (not this
one) alternately attributed to Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw and
Winston Churchill--or even Bertrand Russell, on occasion--with no reason
for either attribution. Only one source that I found--apparently a
speech at the Michigan Constitutional Convention of 1961-62 (mistakenly
dated by Google as 1927)--that suggest that Mark Twain *might have said*
the line about his father, rather than unequivocally declaring that he
did say it.


On 1/8/2010 7:43 PM, Sam Clements wrote:
> Victor--
> It WAS from 1916, but the Feb. issue(No. 2) They bound more than one monthly
> issue in that book.  Typical Google Book problem.
> Sam Clements
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Victor Steinbok"<aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Friday, January 08, 2010 19:00
> Subject: Re: Mark Twain quote about his father's surprising maturation
> (antedating attrib circa 1915) (req paper verification)
> ...
>> On the other hand, I did verify the following as authentic. Note, in
>> particular, that it enters yet another set of ages with distinct language.
>>  From The Man in the Country, by Dr. Harry R. McKeen, Missouri State
>> Board of Agriculture Monthly Bulletin, Vol. 14, No. 1, Jan. 1916, p. 56
>> "Somthing like Mark Twain. At the age of seventeen Mark says he thought
>> his father the most ignorant man in all the world and just couldn't
>> stand him about. At the age of twenty-three he found that his father
>> knew a few things and he could put up wit him occasionally. At the age
>> of twenty-seven he knew that his father was the smartest man in all the
>> world and he just doted on having him around."
>>      VS-)

The American Dialect Society -

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