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Quote Check: Mark Twain Birthday Edition

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November 30 is the anniversary of the 1835 birth of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known pseudonymously as the celebrated writer and humorist Mark Twain. (Fun fact: Mark Twain was Clemens's second pen name. I personally prefer his first: Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass.)

Twain was one of the most quoted—and misquoted—personalities in American history (second only to Abraham Lincoln, according to Ralph Keyes, author of The Quote Verifier). Among the aphorisms misattributed to Twain: "Golf is a good walk spoiled"; "It is very easy to give up smoking. I've done it hundreds of times"; and "It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt."

However, Twain can be properly credited with saying, "Man is the only animal who blushes. Or needs to," and "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

Samuel Clemens died in 1910; both his birth and death were marked by the appearance of Halley's Comet, about which he said, as quoted in his 1909 biography:

"I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: "Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together."

There are quite a few great Mark Twain resources on the web; one of the best, listed below, was created in tandem with the Ken Burns film and includes links to video and audio as well as a ton of letters and other primary sources.

Mark Twain Scrapbook

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