In the Words of Mark Twain

November 06, 2013

One of the stops on our recent trip was Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, CT. Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, moved to this house with his wife Olivia (“Livy”) in 1874. He and his family enjoyed some of their happiest years here, before financial problems forced them to move to Europe in 1891.

I’ve only read one or two of Mark Twain’s books, but after seeing Ken Burns’ excellent documentary, I want to read more (I still haven’t gotten around to reading Twain’s autobiography). He fascinates me. Here are some of my favorite Mark Twain quotes:

A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read.

Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. (I think of this when I’m tempted to use the word “very”!)

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.

What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself.

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.

Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.

(Friday we’ll resume our travels in the Connecticut River Valley.)

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  1. ...loved this post! Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors!

  2. Glad you liked it, Kelly. He said so many interesting and witty things I had a hard time narrowing it down to these!

  3. Lovely pics and love those quotes! Especially agree with the one about being in a good bookroom. Maybe that explains for why it always feels so good to be surrounded by books. :)

  4. Michelle-Oh, so maybe that's why I get such a warm, fuzzy feeling when I walk into a library or bookstore!