Mark Twain’s Goal – Bringing Eve & Adam Together
Mark Twain wanted to bring Eve and Adam together, but his goal went unrealized until after his death. Twain wanted to unite his “creation stories” so Eve and Adam’s different perspectives on creation would stand in high contrast. As Twain said, “They score points against each other — so, if not bound together, some of the points would not be perceived.” In 1931, 21 years after Mark Twain died, Harper finally brought the stories together by publishing a book titled “The Private Life of Adam and Eve”.
Mark Twain was a writer at ease with organizing and presenting his ideas. He rarely struggled to bundle into finished form all that his fertile mind imagined. But combining Eve and Adam’s different perspectives on creation into a cohesive whole challenged him for years.
Considering how much material about Eve, Adam, and ‘new creation’ Twain left unfinished (all which can be found in Baetzhold and McCullough’s authoritative “The Bible According to Mark Twain”), it is hard to believe he would have been wholly satisfied even with Harper’s 1931 combination of “Eve’s “Diary” and “Extracts of Adam’s Diary” into one volume.
Bringing Eve and Adam Together
Now, with trepidation, we are bringing the diaries together for him once again. The trepidation we feel is not because we have rearranged passages in Adam’s and Eve’s Diaries to unite them. Another editor successfully united Eve and Adam by both rearranging passages from the diaries and mixing in passages from other Twain ‘creation stories’ (Don Robert’s The Diaries of Adam & Eve).
Our trepidation stems solely from presumption. We decided to invent a few diary entries to fully accomplish a point and counterpoint interaction between Eve and Adam. We made a presumption. At some point Twain wrote all the finished and unfinished works in what are known as his ‘adamic diaries. In doing so, he clearly envisioned Eve and Adam dialoguing with their diary entries.
We presume that because dialogue is the sharpest way to present dueling ideas, which is an obvious truth that Twain would have at least considered. But presumption is dangerous and inventing passages to alter a great author’s original work is near sacrilege — if not sacrilege indeed. We have modified all of the stories in the Adapted Classics collection, either to accommodate illustrations or to make the stories more accessible to modern youth.
A Dueling Effect
But minor modification is one thing and adding new material that changes a story is something else. For this story, however, we desperately wanted to bring Eve and Adam together in something close to alternating entries. We wanted to create a dueling effect using nothing more than the finished creation stories that were published in Twain’s lifetime .
Throughout most of the adaptation, we were able to do this by simply rearranging passages in the two-plus separate stories. However, that challenged us. Whereas the entries in ‘Extract from Adam’s Diary’ continue on after the fall, ‘Eve’s Diary’ contains very few such entries. And nothing that pertained to children. What to do then to bring Eve and Adam together in a story that could be considered a duel to the end? We committed a sacrilege.
Mark Twain Monitors
On my desk throughout the whole process of bastardizing his work stood a bobble-head statue of the inimitable Mark Twain. Unless forced otherwise, this bobble-head nods vertically. I gave the top of Twain’s head a poke each time I composed an entry by Eve that I wanted to add to this adapted version.
Each time Twain’s head nodded, always vertically, so to me that meant he was condoning what I had done. And after all, I supposed, Twain could accept these unauthorized entries because he knows what we are up to. All Adapted Classics wants to do is introduce Twain in near unadulterated form to middle-school readers as early as possible. Mr. Twain would approve, wouldn’t he? Responding to a poke, his bobbing head affirms he does.« Back