Bukowski and Mark Twain (1 Viewer)


Picked up a short story collection from Mark Twain in my bookstore some days ago and
was surprised about the humor but also about the subtle irony,cynicism and bitterness in
his words.

So I was wondering if Bukowski mentioned Twain in his work and if he liked him?
I believe Buk mentions Mark Twain in "Hollywood", but I can't remember in which context.
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In Hollywood, yes. Jean-Luc Godard is talking to Buk:

Jon-Luc kept right on talking. He was being dark and playing
Genius. Maybe he was a Genius. I didn't want to get bitter about it.
But I had had Genius pushed at me all through school: Shakespeare,
Tolstoy, Ibsen, G.B. Shaw, Chekov, all those dullards. And worse,
Mark Twain, Hawthorne, the Brontë sisters, Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis,
it all just laid on you like a slab of cement, and you wanted to get
out and away, they were like heavy stupid parents insisting upon
regulations and ways that would make even the dead cringe.
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Also in the Notes-column about the world famous tar paper shack in Atlanta. He writes his father for money and his father writes back refusing to spend anything and telling his son that "you ought to write like Mark Twain. He was a great man. he could make people laugh."

Then comes the story about the "track gang west of Sacramento" and he writes: "I didn't go up there. Mark Twain probably could have squeezed some laughs out of the thing. he'd probably be up there drinking out of a bottle with the shits and singing songs. a real man. Sam Clem. I wasn't much, but I was out of Atlanta, not quite dead yet, had beautiful hands and a way to go."

(Notes, p. 120/121)
Interesting subject.

Must admit, I've never read Mark Twain, but've read now and then, that he was in his prose a sort of predecessor for poets like Whitman and - ehm, I think it was either Sayoran or W.C.Williams. And thus a predecessor for Buk too. But maybe that's complete bullshit, as I said: I haven't read him myself. I think he isn't read much in Europe.

Maybe one of you more literate Americans here can tell?
I once read a story about a man who was collecting echoes by Mark Twain. I found the idea funny.

The best thing I have ever read from him was: "Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I 've done it thousands of times."
Thanks all for your feedback !

Found the following online, he had really good reasons for this sadness and his bitterness.

Deaths in the family--In 1904, his wife, Olivia, died. Her health had never been good. She had fallen on ice when she was a teenager and had never fully recovered her physical strength after the accident. His daughter Susy, his favorite, had died while he was on tour in 1895-1896. In 1909, the youngest daughter, Jean, died.

Sunday Evening, June 5, 1904--11:15 o'clock. She has been dead two hours. It is impossible. The words have no meaning. But they are true; I know it without realizing it. She was my life, and she is gone; she was my riches and I am a pauper.
(Mark Twain at his wife's death)

The final bitter years--Twain became bitter toward the end of his life. He had lost his loved ones. He had invested in numerous business schemes that had gone bad. As a result of all of this his health began to decline.
As a result of all of this his health began to decline.
Well, all that as well as being 75 years old when the average life expectancy was 30-45 years when he died. You couldn't exactly call his death unexpected.

Twain was iconoclastic and funny, and the fact that any of his humor is still relevant kind of points to the fact that he was not writing for the audience of the times. Many books from the last quarter of the 1800s are hard to relate to now, with their stilted language and world-view. Twain did the same thing that Bukowski did, and that was writing for the majority rather than the educated and sophisticated minority.

He did write plenty of stuff that didn't age well too of course. And he wrote a lot of stuff purely for the cash later in his life when he was in debt. But he was always on fire about something, and as a result of that, I'll read anything he wrote. There's always something there, even if it's only a scrap.

But in terms of dark humor and fearlessness, I put him solidly in with Bukowski and Hunter Thompson.
I know I should get that reference - it's familiar - but I'm afraid I don't. So I'll just ad lib:

No one has saved me yet. I've been waiting, but so far, no luck. I've heard of people being saved by the blood of the holy baby lamb and something about a cross, but words? I suppose Malcolm X was saved by the dictionary when he was in prison. And street signs can definitely contain words that can save you. But to read a book and think, "Wow, this gives me a will to live that I didn't have before I read this!" No, I have not had that experience. I must be reading the wrong books.

Most books I read just make me think; "Is it time for dinner?"
He is behind a lot of very important ideas, that guy. He's like a modern day Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

He's certainly right about him not being restricted by social norms. :)
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whew! just in time! the world was running short on self important blowhards with a false sense of worth.

god bless youtube.

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