Vol 3 Section 0130

86                                                                           1897

Dolmetsch writes of the sensation that Mark Twain’s arrival in Vienna caused in the press:

Newspapers in Vienna began trumpeting “the famous American humorist’s presence inside our walls,’ as one daily put it, on the front pages of evening editions on September 30, 1897. First on line were the Neues Wiener Tagblatt and Neue Freie Presse, the two largest, the latter reporting that “the well-known American humorist…who is famous throughout the civilized world by his pen-name, Mark Twain, has been in the city for two days and had an apartment in the Hotel Metropole,” adding that he had been prevented by an unnamed infirmity (soon reported as gout) from leaving the hotel despite the “splendid summer-like weather” which had set in after the Clemenses’ drizzly arrival. Within days almost every paper in the metropolis contained a similar article, some offering biographical sketches with inaccurate or downright fanciful details and several with a drawing or photograph of the author. Before long, Twain’s visage became almost as familiar to the Viennese as that of their new mayor, Dr. Karl Lueger, or the hotly controversial new opera director, Gustav Mahler [32-3]. Note: the writer also points out these articles resulted in “a deluge of letters from sympathetic gout sufferers.”

October– In Vienna, Austria Sam inscribed a small card to an unidentified person: “Very Truly Yours / Mark Twain / Oct. ‘97” [MTP].

Sam also inscribed a copy of American Drolleries, a London book by Ward, Lock and Co. (1890), with one of his aphorisms: “By trying, we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man’s, I mean. / Truly Yours / Mark Twain / Wien, Oct./97” [Liveauctioneers.com, Bloomsbury Auctions 25 Nov. 2007, Lot 56A]

Dolmetsch writes that within days of the family’s arrival [Sept. 28] at the Metropole Hotel, Sam began “Conversations with Satan,” an unfinished, 29-page typed manuscript, the plural “Conversations” implying it was to be the first in a series. Sam would work on this sketch until Feb. 1898. It would be unpublished until 2009 [Who Is Mark Twain? xxvi, 31-45]. Dolmetsch illuminates:

In Vienna, his interest in Satan would become almost obsessive as he struggled inconclusively with two different versions of the novella popularly known as The Mysterious Stranger: “The Chronicle of Young Satan” and “Schoolhouse Hill” [28]. Note: F. Kaplan (553) gives September as the beginning of the first nineteen pages of this piece. October seems more likely. Sam began “The Chronicle” in Nov. 1897; the unfinished “Schoolhouse Hill” in Nov. 1898 [AMT-1: 707;1898c]

The 2010 “authoritative” edition of the Autobiography of Mark Twain puts another piece of writing to “clearly soon after the Clemenses arrived in Vienna in late September, 1897,” this “Travel–Scraps I, which was a description of “London, Summer, 1896” [AMT 1: 107]. Note: due to gout attacks in late September, it is estimated that this work did not begin until Oct. 1897. It is published for the first time in the above source. An excerpt from that essay:

I believe that London is the pleasantest and most satisfying village in the world. The stranger soon grows fond of it, and the native lives and dies worshipping it. It is a most singular and interesting place, and the engaging simplicities of its fifty village populations are an unending marvel and delight to the wandering alien. For instance, he sees three or four brisk young men come along—idiots, apparently—with great loud-colored splotches painted on their faces, and wearing fantastic and bright-hued circus-costumes, and he will wonder how they can expose themselves like that and not perish with shame; and why they are not jeered at, and made fun of, and driven to concealment or suicide. But they are not thinking of being ashamed; they are gay and proud, and they hold their heads up, and smirk and grimace and gambol along, utterly complacent and happy; and they are not jeered atm but admired. They stop in the middle of the village street and begin to perform—for these sorry animals are comedians [113-14]. Note: see the whole piece p. 107-117. It may be noteworthy that upon arrival in Vienna, with all of its charms and culture, that Sam would write a descriptive piece about London, where the family had spent many months, mostly in mourning.

SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.