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A Rediscovered Mark Twain Fairy Tale Is Coming Soon

23 January 2017

From The New York Times:

 One night nearly 140 years ago, Samuel Clemens told his young daughters Clara and Susie a bedtime story about a poor boy who eats a magic flower that gives him the ability to talk to animals.

Storytelling was a nightly ritual in the Clemens home. But something about this particular tale must have stuck with Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, because he decided to jot down some notes about it.

The story might have ended there, lost to history. But decades later, the scholar John Bird was searching the Twain archives at the University of California, Berkeley, when he came across the notes for the story, which Twain titled “Oleomargarine.” Mr. Bird was astonished to find a richly imagined fable, in Twain’s inimitable voice. He and other scholars believe it may be the only written remnant of a children’s fairy tale from Twain, though he told his daughters stories constantly.

It’s impossible to know why Twain did not finish the tale, or if he ever intended it for a wider audience. Now, more than a century after Twain dreamed it up, “Oleomargarine” has taken on a strange new afterlife.

. . . .

After consulting a few other scholars, Mr. Bird brought the text to the attention of the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, which sold it to Doubleday Books for Young Readers. This fall, Doubleday will release “The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine,” an expanded version of the story that was fleshed out and reimagined by the children’s book author-and-illustrator team of Philip and Erin Stead.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Books in General

19 Comments to “A Rediscovered Mark Twain Fairy Tale Is Coming Soon”

  1. This digging up dead writers to exploit is getting ‘old’.

  2. Nonsense. Zombie fiction will prove to be perennial.

  3. What’s next?
    They find and publish an old shopping list of Sylvia Plath’s?

  4. “Reimagined”? So not Twain’s story after all.

    • They’re banking on the name and hoping their ‘ghost writer’ can make it ‘sound’ like something the old master might have done.

  5. I bet if someone looks hard enough, there are some notes by Franz Kafka which can be turned into a terrific superhero action adventure.

    • Coming soon to a theater near you, Franz Kafka’s truly offbeat new superhero “Cockroachman!”

  6. It’s a travesty. It’s one thing for James Patterson to sketch out a book, have someone else write it, and then sell it with JAMES PATTERSON in big letters and the someone else in smaller letters. To do that to Twain without his consent is disgusting.

    • Agreed.

      I’d also like to add Greedy and Desperate to the list.

      I guess they can’t take advantage of living writers so they must abuse the dead.

  7. I feel somewhat normal today because y’all are having the same reaction I had.

  8. Ouija boards will replace coloring books at this rate.

  9. Given that there are already thousands of pages of Twain stories and autobiography that I haven’t yet read, this would seem to be of academic interest only.

    • Given that Doubleday is giving this the Big PR treatment and intends to make a commercial property out of it, this would seem to be of any kind of interest but academic.

  10. Mr. Bird was astonished to find a richly imagined fable, in Twain’s inimitable voice.

    That sounds intriguing.

    …an expanded version of the story that was fleshed out and reimagined by the children’s book author-and-illustrator team of Philip and Erin Stead.

    This does not.

  11. I’m a little more optimistic and open to this than most.

    Provided (as seems to be the case) that there’s clarity on what this IS and ISN’T, then let’s wait and see if the thing is worth the effort made to salvage it.

    I will say that I admire (though I do not personally know) Phil and Erin Stead. In today’s world of children’s books, they are pretty grand, and I’m sure a lot of thought and effort will go into it.

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