Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Diaries of Adam and Eve

imageLately, I’ve been doing a little self-inflicted intervention to treat my addiction to fantasy novels.  In the attempt, I’ve been trying to read such things as Aristotle, my old German grammar textbooks, Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey, and works from author’s that everyone reads but I just haven’t gotten to.  So, I checked out a collection of short stories by Mark Twain on my last trip to the library.  I’d read the Huck Finn/Tom Sawyer stuff in high school, most of which I don’t remember, but not much else from Twain. 

Last night I started thumbing through the pages of this collection, looking for a story title that sounded interesting enough for my short attention span, and ran across The Diary of Adam and Eve (as translated by Mark Twain).  I mentioned the title to my husband Chris and we decided to read it aloud together.  Let me tell you, if you need a good abdominal workout, an absolute laughing-till-you’re-crying fit, read this short story and you’ll get it.  Here are a few excerpts, but I recommend you going to the library and checking it out yourself.  Really, I went like a whole minute where I couldn’t talk from laughing and then I’d look at the next line and a whole new round of hysterical laughter would start up again.  (note:  the story was actually written in two different times of Twain’s life.  The Adam part when he was in his late 50’s, while his beloved wife Olivia was sick.  The Eve entries when he was in his 70’s, soon after his wife’s death-- a beautiful love story between two very different creatures).

Extract from Adam’s Diary…

MONDAY.--This new creature with the long hair is a good deal in the way. It is always hanging around and following me about. I don't like this; I am not used to company. I wish it would stay with the other animals.... Cloudy today, wind in the east; think we shall have rain.... WE? Where did I get that word-- the new creature uses it…

TUESDAY.--Been examining the great waterfall. It is the finest thing on the estate, I think. The new creature calls it Niagara Falls-- why, I am sure I do not know. Says it LOOKS like Niagara Falls. That is not a reason, it is mere waywardness and imbecility. I get no chance to name anything myself. The new creature names everything that comes along, before I can get in a protest. And always that same pretext is offered--it LOOKS like the thing. There is a dodo, for instance. Says the moment one looks at it one sees at a glance that it "looks like a dodo." It will have to keep that name, no doubt. It wearies me to fret about it, and it does no good, anyway. Dodo! It looks no more like a dodo than I do…

WEDNESDAY.--Built me a shelter against the rain, but could not have it to myself in peace. The new creature intruded. When I tried to put it out it shed water out of the holes it looks with, and wiped it away with the back of its paws, and made a noise such as some of the other animals make when they are in distress. I wish it would not talk; it is always talking. That sounds like a cheap fling at the poor creature, a slur; but I do not mean it so. I have never heard the human voice before, and any new and strange sound intruding itself here upon the solemn hush of these dreaming solitudes offends my ear and seems a false note. And this new sound is so close to me; it is right at my shoulder, right at my ear, first on one side and then on the other, and I am used only to sounds that are more or less distant from me.

FRIDAY. The naming goes recklessly on, in spite of anything I can do. I had a very good name for the estate, and it was musical and pretty-- GARDEN OF EDEN. Privately, I continue to call it that, but not any longer publicly…

Extract from Eve’s Diary…

SATURDAY.-- I am almost a whole day old, now. I arrived yesterday. That is as it seems to me. And it must be so, for if there was a day-before-yesterday I was not there when it happened, or I should remember it. It could be, of course, that it did happen, and that I was not noticing. Very well; I will be very watchful now, and if any day-before-yesterdays happen I will make a note of it. It will be best to start right and not let the record get confused, for some instinct tells me that these details are going to be important to the historian some day. For I feel like an experiment, I feel exactly like an experiment; it would be impossible for a person to feel more like an experiment than I do, and so I am coming to feel convinced that that is what I AM--an experiment; just an experiment, and nothing more…

I followed the other Experiment around, yesterday afternoon, at a distance, to see what it might be for, if I could. But I was not able to make out. I think it is a man. I had never seen a man, but it looked like one, and I feel sure that that is what it is. I realize that I feel more curiosity about it than about any of the other reptiles. If it is a reptile, and I suppose it is; for it has frowzy hair and blue eyes, and looks like a reptile. It has no hips; it tapers like a carrot; when it stands, it spreads itself apart like a derrick; so I think it is a reptile, though it may be architecture…

I was afraid of it at first, and started to run every time it turned around, for I thought it was going to chase me; but by and by I found it was only trying to get away, so after that I was not timid any more, but tracked it along, several hours, about twenty yards behind, which made it nervous and unhappy. At last it was a good deal worried, and climbed a tree. I waited a good while, then gave it up and went home.

Today the same thing over. I've got it up the tree again…

NEXT WEEK SUNDAY.--All the week I tagged around after him and tried to get acquainted. I had to do the talking, because he was shy, but I didn't mind it. He seemed pleased to have me around, and I used the sociable "we" a good deal, because it seemed to flatter him to be included…

For a few more extracts, click on this link.  Otherwise, get yourself to the bookstore or library and pick it up.

7 comments:

Rebecca said...

SOunds terribly interesting and funny. Have to read it.

3 Men and a Lady said...

That is funny! I have never heard of this story. Love the Lego minifigure picture, too. It looks like it's from the Brick Testament, which amuses me in an uncomfortable way, lol. Lego people are just funny.

Heatherlyn said...

That is so funny! I'll put it on my list!

Mellissa said...

Can't see to type....too many tears.....I want to read more....HA!

Natalie said...

Okay...you've done the impossible: convinced me to read fiction again! :) Those excerpts were largely hilarious and I'm going to check out the book.

panamamama said...

Too funny! I think I've read it but it was long ago. I like to have a non fiction, and a fiction on my nightstand, but the fiction always wins out...
We seem to like the same books- my book blog is: www.whatsonthebookshelf.blogspot.com

Andrea (ace1028) said...

OMG, this is hilarious!!!

"Today the same thing over. I've got it up the tree again…"

Bwah hahaha!

Thank you for your thoughtful comment on my blog today. Much appreciate the time you took to respond, and the honesty. Hope you enjoyed your holiday!