The Autobiography of Mark Twain just became the number one best-seller on Amazon. This means people have to come up with something new to say about Mark Twain 100 years after his death. Like: was Mark Twain a blogger?
Mark Twain expert Robert Hirst had this to say about Mark Twain's posthumously published memoir, which goes on sale Nov. 15th: "Partly a journal, partly a diary, and partly recollection. So yeah, I think of it as a kind of blog, a blog without a web!" Is The Autobiography of Mark Twain the world's most successful blog-to-book, ever?
Let's examine the case for and against Mark Twain as blogger:
- Mark Twain's early non-fiction articles and sketches, written for long-dead newspapers like the New York Tribune and the Alta Californian really did resemble blog posts: Short, witty, sometimes observational and sometimes explanatory, with the occasional bizarre flight of fancy.
- Like some of today's notable bloggers, Mark Twain smoked incessantly.
- Bloggers are deeply involved in the technical aspects of their publishing—What's the HTML tag for centering a photo?—in a way print journalists and writers are not. Mark Twain was similarly obsessed: He wasted most of his fortune trying to develop a complicated printing press that he thought could revolutionize the industry.
- Mark Twain blogged—er, wrote about a vibrating sex toy in his memoir. Can you say, "overshare"?
- Mark Twain was rich for a while and owned a giant, hideous mansion in Connecticuit. No bloggers are rich.
- Mark Twain smoked, but he smoked a pipe. If bloggers were ever caught smoking a pipe today, we would be mercilessly mocked, by other bloggers.
- The only way people could correct his typos were via telegraph, not annoying comments.
- The Internet didn't exist, and neither did blogs.