Twain on Relationships, part 4


Here are the links to Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

This is my last post on Mark Twain’s Diaries of Adam and Eve, and while Eve’s observation about how it is preferable to be alone rather than unwanted was an eye-opener (Diary post #3), I love the way that Twain developed his two characters, and gives insight into masculine and feminine psyches. Yes, your cuddly Curmudgeon is a throw-back, and for that I make no apologies, so if someone wants to take me to task for not being grounded in the 21st century — oh well, and shuckydarn.

Basically, Twain has Eve do most of the talking which, given his depiction of her loquacity throughout the story, comes as no surprise. But what Twain does with Eve’s growth is intriguing. Throughout the diary, Eve records her thoughts and observations, as if she were documenting her life. After all, as I pointed out in the first of these posts, she refers to herself as an Experiment. Of course, while there is another Experiment in the Garden, she knows she is the main event.

Eve makes three statements, after the Fall, that give insight into humanity. The first statement is made shortly after the Fall (by the way, Adam is led to believe it wasn’t apples, but his “chestnut”, that caused the Fall. You’ll have to read it to understand it. 🙂 ) Her statement is:

The Garden is lost, but I have found HIM, and am content.

Yes, I realize that Twain is theologically unsound, but I think that, in Heaven, when I meet Eve, that she will express sentiments akin to this. Somehow, I don’t believe our first parents spent the entirety of their long lives doing penance and wearing hair shirts as acts of contrition toward God in order to atone for The Fall. They were expelled from the Garden, away from God’s physical presence, true. But they did have each other, and they did start a family. And we all know the blessings (and heartbreaks) our children bring us. So it is not hard for me to accept that Twain saw in Eve the opportunity to grow in love for her husband.

Eve’s second statement is actually a great statement of faith, and one that I wish every wife AND husband would be able to make. If they could join in making this statement, it would go a long way to establishing marital harmony, both in and out of the Church. Eve’s statement is a simple acceptance of the wisdom of God’s design:

He is as God make him, and that is sufficient. There was a wise purpose in it, THAT I know.

I truly believe that much of the source of today’s marital discord and strife is founded upon the fact that we think that God didn’t know what He was doing when He created male and female. I think we truly believe that we know more that God Himself when it comes to living as man and wife, even though He created marriage.

I’ve written before how men and women are different, and that there is nothing wrong with that. Other writers and bloggers I’ve come across say the same, and it’s starting to get out there that male and female sexuality and sexual response are different. And that it’s okay! God made us this way, and it is a wise couple that learns how to integrate their two sexualities into one.

In a follow-up comment to that, Eve also says,

Then why is it that I love him? MERELY BECAUSE HE IS MASCULINE, I think.

To me, that is both simple and profound. It seems obvious, on its face, but how many of us actually make the connection that we are drawn to the Other because of their masculine or feminine nature? Yes, we have our own ideas as to what constitute our “type”, but beneath that is the draw of the masculinity or femininity of the Other.

Twain was not a Christian, and so he held no truck with the 900-year-old men and women of Genesis. Instead, he has Eve record this in her diary:

Forty Years Later
It is my prayer, it is my longing, that we may pass from this life together—a longing which shall never perish from the earth, but shall have place in the heart of every wife that loves, until the end of time; and it shall be called by my name. But if one of us must go first, it is my prayer that it shall be I; for he is strong, I am weak, I am not so necessary to him as he is to me—life without him would not be life; how could I endure it? This prayer is also immortal, and will not cease from being offered up while my race continues. I am the first wife; and in the last wife I shall be repeated.

This is not Twain the Humorist speaking; this is Twain the Lover, the Husband. Samuel Clemens was married for 34 years to Olivia Langdon, and adored her to distraction; she died in 1904, and he missed her terribly. The two diaries were published after her death, and I understand this to be Twain writing his wife into Eve’s story.

The reason I think this is because of another story, a true story that Tony Campolo used to tell back when he was unabashedly Christian.

Campolo tells of speaking once on marriage at Bryn Mawr, the Ivy League woman’s college, how he was being eaten alive by the students arguing that marriage was antiquated, that you should be able mate with someone for just as long as you love them, and then move on. He tells how he was trying to share his Christian worldview about marriage but getting torn to shreds by these intelligent women.

But then he thought to tell them of the parents of a friend of his, another professor. The man’s parents were a farm couple who put their two boys through seminary. One day, when the two sons (both professors and preachers) were visiting, the mother was preparing breakfast; in the middle of preparation, she suddenly went stiff, and fell. The boys were stunned, but their old father quickly picked up his wife, ran her out to his pick-up and tore out to the hospital. But it was too late; she died of a stroke.

The sons stayed with their father, helping him deal with all of the final preparations, and on the day of the funeral, they attended the church, came back to the house and received well-wishers, etc. That evening, as they were sitting on the porch, talking about the day and sharing memories, Dad suddenly asked, “Where’s Mom right now?”

The sons, both scholars and preachers tried to give standard Christian truths about Heaven, “to be absent from the body…,” etc., when the old man suddenly jumped up and said, “I’m going to the grave; take me to the grave.” When they tried to persuade him that it was late, he said, “I’ve just buried my wife of 52 years, don’t tell me to settle down!”, and so the three of them drove out to the cemetery.

When they got there, the old man grabbed a flashlight and puttered around the grave a bit, rearranging some of the flowers, got down on his knees and smoothed some dirt, etc. Then he stood up, and said, “Let’s go home. It’s been a good day. It’s been a good 52 years, and it ended just the way I wanted it to; she died first. I didn’t want her to have to live with the pain of being widowed. It ended good.”

And Campolo says that he knew that he had those Bryn Mawr students, because, despite their platitudes and ideals, they didn’t know what love really was. They didn’t have what that man and woman married 52 years had; they didn’t know what love actually was.

But Twain did. Above I said that Twain wrote his wife into Eve’s diary. But he also wrote himself into Adam’s. After Livy’s death, Twain has Adam write in his diary about losing Eve:

Wheresoever she was, THERE was Eden.




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6 responses to “Twain on Relationships, part 4

  1. Jack

    Wow. That’s all, just wow. Teary-eyed over a blog for the second time ever, and twice in one week.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Twain on Relationships, pt. 1 | The Curmudgeonly Librarian

  3. Pingback: Twain On Relationships, part 2 | The Curmudgeonly Librarian

  4. Pingback: Twain on Relationships, part 3 | The Curmudgeonly Librarian

  5. Rob

    Which version of The Diaries of Adam and Eve is the best? There are several different ones on Amazon. I would truly love to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, the two that I linked to are my favs. It’s my understanding that you can download the books from Project Gutenberg in formats readable in Kindle format.

      My problem with the ones on amazon is that some try to ‘blend’ the two, but Twain didn’t write them as one.


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