Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Mark Twain’

November 30, 1835 was the birth date of Samuel L. Clemens, known by most by his “writing name” – Mark Twain.

He was a favorite author of mine as a younger reader, and continues to be one of the writers I revisit on a regular basis. In my mind’s eye, I picture the episode in Tom Sawyer where Tom feeds Aunt Polly’s cat some medicine – and I still laugh out loud! And though the book has become controversial due to its language, I’ve always felt the complicate portraits of Huck and Jim and questions put forth about slavery in Huckleberry Finn make it a must-read book.

I had the pleasure of visiting Hannibal, Missouri this year and seeing many of the locations made famous by Mark Twain’s books. The town was charming, and its museum on Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain fascinating.

I think Mark Twain deserves the label “Father of American Literature” which is often attached to this son of Florida, Missouri.

For more information, here’s the link to a video about his life.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001]Thanks to author Peter Schranz for stopping by and sharing an interesting essay on science fiction writer, Mark Twain! Having visited Twain’s boyhood home this summer, I wonder what Samuel Clemens would think of it?

For those who haven’t ordered their copy of Hides the Dark Tower containing Peter’s story, “Tower of the Sea Witch,” here’s the link. Now, back to the essay. Enjoy!

An Anticipation of Twain’s by Peter Schranz

‘It’s not news that science fiction writers are good at making uncanny predictions about future technological advancements: Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon developed Apollo 11, Wells’ 1903 story The Land Ironclads triggered World War I, and Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein gave birth to the misunderstood English corpses responsible for the gothic rock music of the early 1980s. What a slice of pie it would be if I could justify the argument that I belong on the list because of ‘Tower of the Sea Witch,’ my contribution to Hides the Dark Tower, but unfortunately that story is set before technological advancement was even invented.

I would say that the list, long as it is, has snubbed Mark Twain, one of my country’s greatest science fiction writers. You might not think he’s a science fiction writer, but I intend in this paper to pry that false notion right out of your brain forever.

A French translation of part of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” appeared in the Revue Des Deux Mondes of July 15, 1872. Three years later, Twain discovered the article, took exception to its note that his story wasn’t that funny, and re-translated it back into English to reveal that the French translation was a disjointed shadow of the original, mainly via his feigned and smart-alecky ignorance that French and English syntax and grammar significantly differ.

While the idea of machine translation dates back many centuries, the first actual machine to translate wasn’t available until about fifty years ago. This means that Twain predicted the translation method made famous by machine translators (‘letter-not-spirit method’) by a good nine decades.

I’ve included below a small section of the story in all three versions, or, as Twain himself wrote, “in English, then in French, then clawed back into a civilized language once more by patient, unremunerated toil.”

‘Why, I’ve seen him set Dan’l Webster down here on this floor–Dan’l Webster was the name of the frog–and sing out, ‘Flies, Dan’l, flies!’ and quicker’n you could wink he’d spring straight up and snake a fly off’n the counter there, and flop down on the floor ag’in as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn’t no idea he’d been doin’ any more’n any frog might do. You never see a frog so modest and straightfor’ard as he was, for all he was so gifted.’

‘Tenez, je l’ai vu poser Daniel Webster la sur se plancher,–Daniel Webster etait le nom de la grenouille,–et lui chanter: Des mouches! Daniel, des mouches!–En un clin d’oeil, Daniel avait bondi et saisi une mouche ici sur le comptoir, puis saute de nouveau par terre, ou il restait vraiment a se gratter la tete avec sa patte de derriere, comme s’il n’avait pas eu la moindre idee de sa superiorite. Jamais vous n’avez grenouille vu de aussi modeste, aussi naturelle, douee comme elle l’etait!’

‘Tenez, I him have seen pose Daniel Webster there upon this plank–Daniel Webster was the name of the frog–and to him sing, “Some flies, Daniel, some flies”– in a flash of the eye Daniel had bounded and seized a fly here upon the counter, then jumped anew at the earth, where he rested truly to himself scratch the head with his behind foot, as if he no had not the least idea of his superiority. Never you not have seen frog as modest, as natural, sweet as she was.’

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the last fifteen years of your precious life doing nothing but feeding a machine translator a perfectly blameless piece of English, instructing it to translate it into another language, and instructing it once more to translate its own translation back into what it swears on a stack of bibles is English. If you haven’t done so, perhaps you will after reading the following brief examples, created using a well-known machine translation service whose name I am too polite to reveal:

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

O Roméo, Roméo ! C’est pourquoi es-tu Roméo?

O Romeo, Romeo! This is why are you Romeo?

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Loin dans l’ombre peering, je me tins longtemps plein d’étonnement, de crainte,

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood full of astonishment, fear,

In fairness to the translation in the Revue Des Deux Mondes, its French (I’m so magnanimous as to presume) is without fault, a feat, considering Twain’s ample colloquialisms (which I guess is the joke), whereas the French in Shakespeare’s and Poe’s machine translations looks about as bad as the re-English.

But this eerily similar, slavish adherence to the “from” language’s syntax (cf. 1875’s “Never you not have seen frog as modest” and 2015’s “This is why are you Romeo?”) and the refusal to translate certain words (cf. “Tenez, I him have seen pose Daniel Webster there upon this plank” and “Loin dans l’ombre peering”) is what demands that I forward Mark Twain for consideration as a member of the technology-anticipators’ club. The mistakes he made in his translation and those that modern machine translators make are so similar that I can only assume Twain’s capacity for prediction was that of a science-fictionist’s.

Not even Douglas Adams’s Babel fish gives bad translations, but if you, reader, are beginning to suspect that my argument is spurious, you may retort that the Babel fish is not a machine, but a leech-like creature. Firstly, to this retort, I would suggest that yours is one of those irrelevant distinctions favored by students of sophistry, and secondly, I would cross my arms and pout in the corner.’

And here’s where you can find Peter’s books, Astonishing Tales of the Sea and It Spits You Out & 12 More Stories to Rub Your Chin To.

Thanks again to Peter Schrantz for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, quotes, blogs from me, and more. Have a fantastical day! – Vonnie

Read Full Post »

tom sawyer “The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” – Mark Twain

Samuel Clement, or as he is better-known, Mark Twain, was witty, wise, and a bit rascally! In fact, I think his Tom Sawyer character was likely patterned after himself.

He was also dead-on with this quote. A book shelf filled with volumes of knowledge doesn’t do a bit of good if the books are never opened and read. Likewise, how many wonderful stories does a person never get to enjoy for failing to open the pages of a book. So read, folks! Read! Read! Read!

And if you’re looking for a book to read (yes, this is a bit of self-promo), visit my Amazon page and consider buying one of mine. 🙂

Read Full Post »

KB Lever photo Thanks to Young Adult and Children’s Author, K.B. Lever for stopping by and sharing her views on putting a few facts in fiction. Enjoy!

Finding the Truth in Fiction by KB Lever

It’s the oldest trick in the book – adding truth to fiction. There are laws about it, best selling novels that use the technique, and let’s be honest, “truth is stranger than fiction,” said the famous author, Mark Twain.

A great novel is one that pulls the reader into the story and refuses to let go until the last page is turned. In order for an author to do that, they must evoke the response that each individual reader strives to find. Anything from pulling at the reader’s heartstrings, a suspenseful story, or an unsettling tale that makes them shift in their seats.

Currently, the population is infatuated with placing people in uncomfortable situations for entertainment. Let’s look at the following examples:

1) Strangers forced to live together in an elaborate house where they must go as far as to share their sleeping quarters, bathrooms, and cars.

2) Twenty women competing over one male (proper suitor) that are sent off on elaborate vacations where, come on, no one could resist falling in love.

3) Eighteen people taken to the Philippians and cast out in an unfamiliar territory and told to survive through hunting, building shelter, and betraying one another.

KB Lever -Executing the List What is the drive for these types of stories? What are the reasons that their ratings are the highest in the industry? Simple, it’s because of one reason – the events are actually happening! People are getting to witness firsthand the outrageous behaviors of human nature! It truthfully lies in the shock value associated with someone being able to say, “that really happened!”

So, with the large desire for the public to be able to relate to a novel’s characters and for the wish to be stunned, intrigued, or manipulated by the plot. Why would anyone want to take fact out of fiction? The real challenge is to perfectly mesh enough fact with fiction to come up with a heart-stopping novel.

Take a journey inside my books, Manipulating the List and Executing the List, and see if you can decipher the truth from fiction. I’ll give you a clue. There are more than just a few real-life events.

KB Lever’s The Immortal Companion is a Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy series that consists of three novels: Manipulating the List (2012), Executing the List (2012), and Legacy of the List (To Be Released July 2013). The series follows a young girl, Katherine, who finds herself in an unlikely relationship with an entity similar to the Grim Reaper.

KB Lever-Manipulating the List For more about KB Lever’s books, visit http://www.KBLever.com  To buy a copy: http://www.KBLever.com/Store.html Be sure to “friend” her at http://www.Facebook.com/author.KB.Lever and “like” her Facebook pages: http://www.Facebook.com/TheImmortalCompanionSeries , http://www.Facebook.com/LalooDreamWeaverSeries , http://www.Facebook.com/ThirtyDaysInMay And follow her on Twitter @KBLever.

Thanks again to KB Lever for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and a new tasty feature coming in February. Have an enchanted day – Vonnie

Read Full Post »