An evening With Mark Twain
Mark Twain is one of my favorite literary humorists. The following story, though not necessarily nostalgic, was such a pleasing experience, I just couldn’t resist inserting it into this collection.
One March evening a few years ago, about one hundred people, including myself, spent a delightful evening at the Pocatello, Idaho, 1st Presbyterian Church with one of America’s favorite litterateurs, Mark Twain. The evening was dubbed an “Italian Night Out,” and it began with a delicious spaghetti dinner provided by the Presbyterian women. After dinner we were treated to a performance of “The Diaries of Adam and Eve,” a reader’s play based on two short stories; “Extracts From Adam’s Diary,” and “Eve’s Diary Translated,” written by Mark Twain, and adapted for theater by David Birney. The directing and acting were masterful, and it was a hoot.
Mark Twain is noted for his inimitable, sometimes irreverent sharp wit. It has been written that he was a Deist, which means he did believe in God as creator of the world. In this play, the wit came through, but minus his usual irreverence. I had not read either of these stories previous to this performance, but they are on my reading list. David Birney did a spectacular job of bringing these diaries together enabling the two characters to play off each other, which made for an enjoyable evening of entertainment.
It starts out with Eve telling about her first day on earth, and her wonderment with this other creature inhabiting the “Garden” with her. She can’t quite figure him out and refers to him in these early days as an “it.” She likes to communicate; he likes his quiet.
She likes to name things, because she says if it were left up to him, things would never get named. He says, however, if she would just stop talking and let him get in a word now and then, he might like to name a few things, also.
Adam continues to demonstrate his aloofness toward Eve. As a result of this, Eve says, “It’s not because he is considerate that I love him. No, it is surely not that.” Adam says this woman creature continues to bewilder him. Eve says, “It is not because of his intelligence that I love him. No, it surely is not that.”
In her need to find someone to communicate with, Eve starts talking to the snake. Adam warns her about this, but she persists, and things start to go down hill from there. All this is communicated through Twain’s matchless literary style.
Then Cain enters the picture and Adam’s description of their first-born was nothing short of eye watering hilarity. Adam was out working the fields, or hunting, or whatever he did to provide food and shelter, and he thinks Eve found Cain somewhere in the woods, and he doesn’t quite know what to think of this newfound creature. He thinks it must be a bear. “No, it can’t be a bear”, he says, “it has no hair.”
More children come into the picture. We witness Adam and Eve beginning to discover the meaning of love and bonding, as Twain switches the story to a more tender vein. Abel’s death brings real sadness into their lives, and for the first time, they realize what God meant when he said partaking of the forbidden fruit would bring death.
The story ends with Adam and Eve speculating (separately) about what life would be like if either of them dies before the other. I couldn’t help wondering when I listened to this part of the story, if Mr. Clemens wasn’t reflecting on tragedies in his own life at the time he wrote these two works. His life at that time was in low ebb. His own wife, Olivia—to whom he was devoted—died in 1904, the same year “Extracts from Adam’s Diary” was written. “Eve’s Diary” was written in 1906. His favorite daughter had died while he was on a European tour during the years 1896 to 1900. He lost two other children to death, but I don’t know if their deaths were previous to these writings, or after.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening, and if you ever have the opportunity to attend a performance of the “Diaries of Adam and Eve,” by all means, make it point to do so. There are two kinds of tears; those brought by laughter, those brought by emotion. This play—when played well— as this one was, invokes both kinds.
If you’d like to check out some of Will Edwinson’s stories, you can do so by clicking on the free download button at upper right of this page and receive a free copy of the prologue and first three complete adventures of Buddy…His Trials and Treasures. It’s also available for purchase at www.amazon.com. Happy reading.