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Mark Twain To Reveal All After 100 Year Wait 298

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the bruce-willis-is-dead dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Independent reports that one of Mark Twain's dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published one hundred years after his death. Twain, the pen name of Samuel Clemens, left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century, but in November, the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain's three-volume autobiography. Scholars are divided as to why Twain wanted his autobiography kept under wraps for so long, with some believing it was because he wanted to talk freely about issues such as religion and politics. Michael Shelden, who this year published Man in White, an account of Twain's final years, says that some of his privately held views could have hurt his public image. 'He had doubts about God, and in the autobiography, he questions the imperial mission of the US in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines,' says Shelden. 'He's also critical of [Theodore] Roosevelt, and takes the view that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. Twain also disliked sending Christian missionaries to Africa. He said they had enough business to be getting on with at home: with lynching going on in the South, he thought they should try to convert the heathens down there.' Interestingly enough, Twain had a cunning plan to beat the early 20th century copyright law with its short copyright terms. Twain planned to republish every one of his works the moment it went out of copyright with one-third more content, hoping that availability of such 'premium' version will make prints based on the out-of-copyright version less desirable on the market."
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Mark Twain To Reveal All After 100 Year Wait

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday May 24, 2010 @11:51AM (#32324186) Journal

    He had doubts about God ...

    Indeed. See his later books like Letters from the Earth [google.com] and The Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts [google.com] (claymation here [youtube.com]).

    Twain also disliked sending Christian missionaries to Africa.

    Oh I think that's putting it rather lightly. After reading about Twain's efforts to in King Leopold's Ghost [wikipedia.org], I read Twain's King Leopold's Soliloquy: A Defense of His Congo Rule [montclair.edu] in which Twain rips the Belgian King Leopold II apart (in my opinion the farce Twain made of Leopold is better than the more direct Crime of the Congo by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). We seem to think that human rights and anthropology are modern day efforts when historically artists like Twain were very politically active and quite in tune with the truths of corrupt governments (the United States notwithstanding).

    I assure you that in Twain's mind at the time of his death, he had many issues that he held from his writings -- most likely because he felt we weren't ready for that level of truth yet. Really the only question for me is whether or not he still felt the need to drench these memoirs in satire and wit when a hundred years from then he can just out and out straight to your face tell you what he feels as he recounts his life. I'd imagine he knew that saying some of this stuff one hundred years ago would be career ending or life threatening ... and not until those involved, lampooned and criticized are long gone would the world be ready for this. This will most likely prove to be a delicious read indeed.

    • by binarylarry (1338699) on Monday May 24, 2010 @11:51AM (#32324204)

      Mark Twain had to have been one of the coolest guys who ever lived.

      • by bigredradio (631970) on Monday May 24, 2010 @11:58AM (#32324318) Homepage Journal
        On the surface. Apparently he was a poor husband and neglectful father (It was in some documentary on PBS I saw years ago. Maybe Ken Burns.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Can't all be Jesus

        • by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewkNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:14PM (#32324540)

          There are plenty of good husbands and good fathers in this world. There are very few writers of his calibre however. Saying that he was only a great man on the surface because he wasn't a great family man is like saying Alan Turing wasn't all that great because he was rubbish at water polo*.

          For all I know Alan Turing was great at water polo, my point is that it is irrelevant.

          • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:30PM (#32324812) Homepage

            There are plenty of good husbands and good fathers in this world. There are very few writers of his calibre however.

            And these sets seem to have less overlap than simply statistics would suggest. Genius, and devotion to the pursuit of where that genius leads them, often result in someone who has many problems in other areas of life. Hell, just artists and writers in general whether genius or not tend to have these kinds of problems.

            In other news, while Vincent Van Gogh may appear to have been a brilliant artist, did you know that in reality he was basically a raving lunatic not to mention quite an asshole? Yep, it's true. All those emotions you felt looking at Starry Night were actually invalid. Who knew? Science did, that's who.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Sir_Lewk (967686)

              while Vincent Van Gogh may appear to have been a brilliant artist, did you know that in reality he was basically a raving lunatic

              The man cut off part of his fucking ear and gave it to a prostitute. I think it's pretty well understood, particularly in glamorized and exaggerated popular culture, the man wasn't really all there in the head...

              All those emotions you felt looking at Starry Night were actually invalid.

              Well I can't say his work ever particularly appealed to me like some art does, but I will say th

          • by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:31PM (#32324822)

            There are plenty of good husbands and good fathers in this world. There are very few writers of his calibre however. Saying that he was only a great man on the surface because he wasn't a great family man is like saying Alan Turing wasn't all that great because he was rubbish at water polo*.

            Not really. I know very few people that measure a man's greatness based on his water polo skills. But if you're not a good husband and father to the people you promised to be a good husband and father to, then you have lost a significant amount of respect from me.

            If we said he was a "great writer," that's fine. But calling him a great man because of his writing is not merited, unless as a society, we actually want to ignore "humanity" faults in a person because of his literary work. Personally, I'd much rather have a great guy (great "man") as my neighbor than a great writer.

            With all that said, I don't know much about him as a person, so I don't know if the original claim is true or not :)

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward
              And what about good mothers and wives? In the last 50 years the emphasis on the women's role in the family has been downplayed significantly. All people ever talk about is men, completely disregarding the destruction of families taking place as women seek divorces and full-time employment at their children's and family's expense.
            • by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewkNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:50PM (#32325108)

              How many lives has he touched with his brilliant writing? His writings have had an unmeasurable positive impact on the world and to ignore that seems almost criminal to me. "Just a great writer" does not really do justice to how good he was. His works aren't just nice stories, they are full of powerful and relevant social commentary as well, which was not lost on his readers at the time.

              I'm not attempting to downplay the harm caused by being a negligent father but everyone has flaws. If we ignore the achievements of men because of their supposed shortfallings in other areas, then nobody is a great man, and what exactly does that say about society? And for what it is worth, he publicly stated on at least one occation that he supported extended copyright terms because it would allow his work to financially support his family after his death. Perhaps he wasn't a great father/husband, but it certainly doesn't sound like he created enough harm to outway his literary and intellectual accomplishments.

              • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:31PM (#32325768)

                If we ignore the achievements of men because of their supposed shortfallings in other areas, then nobody is a great man, and what exactly does that say about society?

                The truth?

              • "Just a great writer" does not really do justice to how good he was.

                Yes it does. That is exactly what it means, he was a great writer. If he was a bad husband and father then that is what it is also.

                And for what it is worth, he publicly stated on at least one occation that he supported extended copyright terms because it would allow his work to financially support his family after his death.

                So he wants to try to play games with copyright law and you're ok with that too? Next you're going to tell me he created the modern text book scheme with new editions so often that students cannot reuse old text books...

              • by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday May 24, 2010 @04:24PM (#32328188)

                If we ignore the achievements of men because of their supposed shortfallings in other areas, then nobody is a great man, and what exactly does that say about society?

                As another poster said... the truth.

                I'm not ignoring the achievements of anyone. I don't honestly know about MT's character as a father/husband, so I can't really comment on that specifically; I have read his writings, enjoyed them, and found them very observant, astute, and insightful. If he was not good to his family and friends, however, I'm not going to ignore that because he wrote well.

                Someone I am more familiar with would be Richard Wagner. He was a "horrible person," it seems, and yet a great composer. I acknowledge his compositional genius, while maintaining that I would not want to set him up as a role model for anyone. I'm not going to fall into the trap of downplaying his music because of his character, but I'm not going to fall into the trap of downplaying his character shortcomings because he was a great composer. And frankly, if he had sacrificed some of his art for the sake of those he loved, I would have a lot of respect for him. I value human life and relationships more than art (or literature, etc), I guess.

                Perhaps he wasn't a great father/husband, but it certainly doesn't sound like he created enough harm to outway his literary and intellectual accomplishments.

                They are completely different measures. You can't outweigh good character with bad literature or bad character with good literature, and I refuse to call someone a great man because of his literature just as I would refuse to call someone a great writer because of his character.

                How about this. Hans Reiser was a great programmer. He was not a great husband. I will not call him a great man because of his programming, and I will not call him a bad programmer because of his character flaws (... murder ...). He was - to my knowledge - a great programmer and a rather horrible husband.

            • by Ltap (1572175) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:53PM (#32325152) Homepage
              Ultimately, it's a question of priority. People have to sacrifice their family life and hobbies to concentrate on their great work, which is why so many writers have had terrible lives. It's better that Twain gave us something that will last us through the ages (his words) than to have been another generic family man.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by zerocool^ (112121)

                It's better that Twain gave us something that will last us through the ages (his words) than to have been another generic family man.

                Your comment sounds callous, but I completely agree with you.

                Look at the 10,000 ft view. If you get too close, then everywhere, every day, is a tragedy. Yes, if he was a neglectful father and husband, that is a bad thing. However, look at the entirety of American Literature. In a completely objective sense, is it better with Mark Twain's writings than without? I think so.

            • by Latent Heat (558884) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:02PM (#32325306)
              Mark Twain aka Samuel Clemens was a person who came from a humble background and married into wealth, but his appetite for the fine things that money could bring exceeded whatever came his way by way of his wife's family.

              Having worked as a newspaper "printer's devil", he saw his path to the riches required for the life style to which he had become accustomed in the Paige Compositor -- essentially a Victorian Era version of MS-Word implemented largely in hardware, making "leveraged" investments in this invention.

              The Paige compositor failed in the marketplace, more sophisticated than its competitor the Linotype -- kind of like the tale of a "death march" failed software or computer hardware project some 100 years later. Twain lost all of his money and then money he didn't have. To make good on his debts, he went on a worldwide lecture tool, essentially doing impressions of Hal Holbrooke pretending to be Mark Twain.

              Not only did the speaking fees from this grueling tour pay back his debts in full and then some, it made him immortal. Were it not for the fame of the speaking tour and connecting with audiences around the world with his personal appearances in a day before TV and cable and talk shows, he may as well been forgetten as many a 19'th century humorist.

              So remember, what made Mark Twain a household word even into the 21'st Century was one, the man's greed, and two, an antecedant to the personal computer.

              • by mr_mischief (456295) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:23PM (#32325618) Journal

                He also invented that little tie on the back of a men's dress vest that brings it in around the waist and was awarded a patent for it, but to no monetary gain. It originally had uses on other garments as patented and was sometimes detachable, but it's still there on many suit vests.

                He also patented a self-pasting scrapbook which did sell really well and a trivia game.

              • by thomst (1640045) on Monday May 24, 2010 @04:28PM (#32328258) Homepage

                Mark Twain aka Samuel Clemens was a person who came from a humble background and married into wealth, but his appetite for the fine things that money could bring exceeded whatever came his way by way of his wife's family.

                Having worked as a newspaper "printer's devil", he saw his path to the riches required for the life style to which he had become accustomed in the Paige Compositor -- essentially a Victorian Era version of MS-Word implemented largely in hardware, making "leveraged" investments in this invention.

                The Paige compositor failed in the marketplace, more sophisticated than its competitor the Linotype -- kind of like the tale of a "death march" failed software or computer hardware project some 100 years later. Twain lost all of his money and then money he didn't have. To make good on his debts, he went on a worldwide lecture tool, essentially doing impressions of Hal Holbrooke pretending to be Mark Twain.

                Not only did the speaking fees from this grueling tour pay back his debts in full and then some, it made him immortal. Were it not for the fame of the speaking tour and connecting with audiences around the world with his personal appearances in a day before TV and cable and talk shows, he may as well been forgetten as many a 19'th century humorist.

                So remember, what made Mark Twain a household word even into the 21'st Century was one, the man's greed, and two, an antecedant to the personal computer.

                Uh ... no, not really. Not at all, in fact.

                True, Twain put most the considerable wealth he had gained into the development of the Compositor (he himself estimated he spent $150,000 on it, but his biographer A. B. Paine estimated his investment at $190,000, and his friend William Dean Howells put the figure at $3000,000 - and these estimate are all in 19th century dollars). He believed there was both a demand and a need for it, based on his early career as a printer's devil. It did not "fail in the marketplace", however. In fact [marktwainhouse.org], only two prototypes were ever built, and the machine "collapsed" prior to its only demonstration before a group of investors in 1890.

                It wasn't greed that motivated him. Like modern Internet billionaires investing in private space travel, he believed in the technology, and put his money where his mouth was.

                As for the allegations of his being a "poor husband and neglectful father", nothing could be further from the truth. He adored his wife Livy, worshipped his daughters, and was devastated when his only son Langdon died of diptheria at age two. It was at Livy's insistence that he undertook a worldwide lecture tour to repay 100 cents on the dollar of the debts from his various bad investments (Paige's Compositor wasn't the only one), particularly the collapse of his publishing house, The Charles L. Webster Company. And, after their daughter Susy died of meningitis on a visit to their mansion in Hartford, Connecticut while Twain was on tour in Europe, he and Livy were so overcome with grief that they were never able to bring themselves to return to Hartford.

                "Poor husband and neglectful father?" I don' theeng so, Quickstraw ...

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ultramk (470198)

              Oftentimes, it seems like people who've significantly changed society or our culture for the better turn out to be difficult (at the very least) interpersonally. I'm not saying it's impossible for people to be great in every way, but it does seem uncommon.

              Personally, I tend to judge people in a simple way: balancing their private and public lives, has the person made the world significantly better overall? In Twain's place, I would judge yes. Maybe he was a jerk in to his family or kids, but it seems like h

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by TrippTDF (513419)
                Just from a personal point of view, this seems to hold up. I know people in my company that are tremendous producers in whatever they do, but you spend some time with them and realize they are awful people to be around. I can't imagine what it is like to actually live with them.

                Look at Steve Jobs- sure, the guy has consistently created some of the best products in tech history, but everything I understand about him is that he is a tyrant to work with- I can only imagine what his homelife is like.

                No
            • By using your definition anyone could use *some* defect in anybody to destitute them from being "great men". I don't care shit that people were not great husband or father (and many will probably do too), as somebody said there is aplenty of them, so why should your definition have ANY bearing ? Heck some people might object declaring somebody a great man or woman because of their religious belief. Try picture "charles Darwin" a great man for some cultural group... [b]Somebody (man or woman) which research/
          • by rolfwind (528248) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:34PM (#32324848)

            Saying that he was only a great man on the surface because he wasn't a great family man is like saying Alan Turing wasn't all that great because he was rubbish at water polo*.

            Plenty of kids and neighborhoods are all the worse because of negligent/never_there fathers. No one grew up harmed because someone wasn't a good water polo player.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Machtyn (759119)
              Unless their father was a terrible water polo player and ended up sucking too much water.
            • by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:19PM (#32325570) Journal

              Yet plenty of people have grown up to be great contributors to society and/or greatly successful, even though they had terrible parents or no parents. Dave Thomas [wikipedia.org] is one of my favorite examples, whose mother gave him up at birth, his adoptive mother died when he was 5, forcing his father to move around for work, to begin working at 12 and to drop out of school. Not only did he found Wendy's (one of the most successful fast food chains still) but did tremendous work promoting education, adoption and more.

              The inverse is also true, as plenty of violent criminals and less than worthwhile persons came from what would be considered solid, caring families. While the quality of the parents is certainly influential in the outcome of individuals, it is by no means the single factor, nor the most important factor, in whether someone grows up to be a blessing or a curse to society. In the end, it is the individual that decides his own fate.

        • by Deadstick (535032)
          Apparently he was a poor husband and neglectful father

          Yeah, but Clementine managed to deal with that -- oops, sorry, thought you were talking about Winston Churchill.

          rj

    • by sznupi (719324) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:05PM (#32324416) Homepage

      Whatever the substantive motives for the delay in publication are - that's probably also a nice publicity stunt; viral marketing is...old again?

    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:08PM (#32324460) Journal

      For another good look at Twain's world view regarding mankind and religion, I'd say read What is Man? [gutenberg.org].

    • by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:18PM (#32324624)

      ...drench these memoirs in satire and wit...

      I certainly hope so.

    • by Bob-taro (996889)

      I'd imagine he knew that saying some of this stuff one hundred years ago would be career ending or life threatening

      I wonder why he'd want to wait until 100 years after his death to publish it, then? Wouldn't his death immediately make those issues moot?

      • by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:25PM (#32325660) Journal

        Not really. He likely wanted anyone he was talking ABOUT to be dead as well, to not be able to deny or discount his story. Basically, it would seem as if he is simply letting history speak for himself, and before you read this, a several generations have already been exposed to his more public side (his work) before they can judge his opinions and perspectives as a private individual. Most people have opinions that they don't necessarily share to everyone in public, be they about race, religion, politics, etc., particularly if they are not in the majority in these views.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rei (128717)

        His criticisms did get increasingly harsh as time went on, esp. about US military action overseas -- for example, The War Prayer [midwinter.com]. At one point, he suggested that this [daughtersoftiresias.org] be the new American flag. He had a lot of pressure on him not to ruin his reputation by being too vocal of an antiwar voice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pitchpipe (708843)
      Check out the essay Thoughts of God [google.com]. It is just so spot on and entertaining, plus it's only about three short pages.
  • by nolife (233813) on Monday May 24, 2010 @11:55AM (#32324264) Homepage Journal

    Twain planned to republish every one of his works the moment it went out of copyright with one-third more content, hoping that availability of such 'premium' version will make prints based on the out-of-copyright version less desirable on the market."

    Exactly why the limits SHOULD be less then they are now. Back then, the length of the copyright period was actually promoting the publishing of new material.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's damn lucky some bright entrepreneurs were able to pass these new laws so the industry doesn't have to deal with that whole "contribute new content or you won't get any money" racket that society had going.

    • Olden days... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:10PM (#32324484)

      In the olden days, authors games the law; they may not like the law, but still obeys the letters of the law. Today publishers BUY the law; they write them and their politicians force them upon the populace.

      • The OLD original book would still have been free of copyright. Copyright would NOT have been extended on the ORIGINAL book. He just hoped that the NEW edition with its own new copyright would be worth buying from him for the new content.

        But the OLD content would have been free of copyright. So basically, Mark Twain wanted people to pay him for freshly written new content.

        That is not gaming the system, that is called selling stuff. nobody complains that the baker wants paid for his bread today even if you

    • Exactly why the limits SHOULD be less then they are now. Back then, the length of the copyright period was actually promoting the publishing of new material.

      Given the great gushers of new material being published per annum, current copyright doesn't seem to be doing any harm on that front. So, what exactly is your point?

  • by bigredradio (631970) on Monday May 24, 2010 @11:56AM (#32324276) Homepage Journal

    patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel

    Especially when discussing the Patriot Act. Just saying.

  • Wow! Just... wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jd (1658) <imipak@yaCOLAhoo.com minus caffeine> on Monday May 24, 2010 @11:58AM (#32324302) Homepage Journal

    "Twain planned to republish every one of his works the moment it went out of copyright with one-third more content, hoping that availability of such 'premium' version will make prints based on the out-of-copyright version less desirable on the market."

    If he was actually writing that additional content afterwards, he invented Release Early, Release Often.

    If the content actually existed and it was a cynical ploy to sell more products, he invented the model Microsoft uses.

    In either case, this puts his business acumen over half a century ahead of anyone else. That's genius.

  • by WillAdams (45638) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:00PM (#32324334) Homepage

    from a speech which he gave before Congress:

    http://www.bpmlegal.com/cotwain.html [bpmlegal.com]

    William

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:24PM (#32324696) Journal

      "I like that extension of copyright life to the author's life and fifty years afterward. I think that would satisfy any reasonable author, because it would take care of his children."

      Sorry Mr. Twain but I don't think your daughters should be able to live in luxury, without working, while they collect money off your books for another 50 years. If you want to pass your existing money to them, that's fine, but the copyright should end the moment you die. Let your daughters go-out and work for themselves if they want to continue collecting money.

      Copyright is intended to benefit the original laborer, not to set up an eternal money-making machine for people who did not do the original labor.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by characterZer0 (138196)

        A reason that copyright extends past death is to discourage murder to get access to copyrighted material.

        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:48PM (#32325058)

          A reason that copyright extends past death is to discourage murder to get access to copyrighted material.

          That sounds more like a movie-plot risk than a serious concern.

        • by FreeUser (11483) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:48PM (#32325070)

          A reason that copyright extends past death is to discourage murder to get access to copyrighted material.

          I'm sure that's the spin policymakers put on it when they deformed copyright law. A better approach to discouraging murder would be to have set copyright terms...which coincidentally, was what we used to have. It used to be you could tell if a work was in copyright or not by looking at the copyright notice, subtracting it from the current year, and seeing if the result was greater than the copyright term. If you want the equivalent of "life plus fifty years" to benefit the kids, make copyright equal to the median life span + 50 years, and make that the set term. If you want more innovation, reduce that back to something reasonable, like 20 years.

          Making copyright life+50 to avoid a mass of murdered authors is bullshit...that problem goes away as soon as you decouple copyright from an author's demise, as was its original implementation (in the US at least...in the UK, the earliest forms of proto-copyright went on forever, and some works still fall in the category).

        • Making it life + anything doesn't really help there. There's still an incentive to kill the author as soon as he stops regularly producing new work. Shorter terms provide a better incentive to keep creating. I have absolutely no sympathy with the idea that your descendants should get money from the work - if you want to provide for them, invest some of the royalties, or give them a decent education so they can earn their own money.
        • That doesn't make sense. If copyright expires at the time of the creator's death then the copyrighted work becomes public domain. So who, exactly, is going to murder somebody just so that everybody (including competitors if we are talking about corporations here) can use the material freely? It's not like you get awarded the intellectual property rights of your murder victims. In what kind of situation would somebody murder a copyright holder to get 'access' to their work? Where's the incentive?

          The only

        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:09PM (#32325418)

          A reason that copyright extends past death is to discourage murder to get access to copyrighted material.

          Here's the choice:

          1) Expiration at death -> Murder to put something into the public domain where EVERYBODY has access to it.
          2) Expiration after death -> Murder by a family member to get control of the income from the copyright today

          Seems to me that copyright extending past death is much more of an incentive for murder than it is against it.

        • A better reason to make them static lengths of time and not based on the arbitrary date someone croaks at. Does an author (or his family) deserve less money because they get hit by a car the day after releasing their book? Pick an arbitrary time period of reasonable length, like say 20 years. That means by the time people are old enough to produce creative content of their own, the work they grew up with an were inspired by is fair game. Imagine how awesome it would be if the Ninja Turtles, GI Joe, Star Wars and Transformers were all public domain? There's already plenty of fan work, but they have to constantly dodge lawyers. There's no doubt that for a certain generation these things are a huge part of their culture, with meaning beyond the original works themselves. A person or company should not be allowed to own the common culture, only keep contributing to it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by batquux (323697)

        What's wrong with wanting to take care of your children? Some publisher is going to continue to profit from his work, regardless, so why not let his family benefit, too?

    • by Derek Pomery (2028) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:50PM (#32325088)

      "I made an estimate some years ago, when I appeared before a committee of the House of Lords, that we had published in this country since the Declaration of Independence 220,000 books. They have all gone. They had all perished before they were ten years old. It is only one book in 1000 that can outlive the forty-two-year limit.

      Therefore why put a limit at all? You might as well limit the family to twenty-two children. "

      Which is interesting, since, our problem now is the many many many works that have not disappeared, that cannot be used by new authors.

      That and concept of corporate ownership which he didn't seem to really be concerned about (Disney).

      http://randomfoo.net/oscon/2002/lessig/ [randomfoo.net]
      http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/zoomcomic.html [duke.edu]

    • by bcrowell (177657)
      Cool -- thanks for the link! The quick summary, for those who aren't going to read the whole speech, is that he wanted copyright to be a permanent property right, but since that was unconstitutional, he wanted it to last as long as possible. He makes the argument that putting a shorter term on copyright, such as the 42-year term they had at the time, is pointless, because so few books remain in print after 42 years. He claims that at that time less than 100 authors or descendants of authors in the US had ev
  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:01PM (#32324344)

    Please don't read the rest of this post until a hundred years after I'm dead.

    -----No reading below this point-----

    You all suck.

    Cheers,

    -----No reading above this point (in case you're reading this upside down while you drive in circles with an IPad on the steering wheel).-----

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by selven (1556643)

      Wait, so if I read that upside down I'm allowed to read only the comment that we all suck and nothing else? Reminds me of the signs saying "no smoking outside this building".

      • by Ogive17 (691899)
        I got pulled over by a rent-a-cop (was in an apt. complex) years ago for driving the wrong way on a one way street. I told him I never saw the sign and asked where it was, he pointed to the sign sitting at the end of the road that is only visible if you enter the road from the correct direction. Then I just said "that's stupid, I'm going now" and pulled away.

        He'd probably taze me if I did that now... oh for simpler days.
    • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@co[ ]et ['x.n' in gap]> on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:30PM (#32324804)

      I picked up my monitor and rotated it around.

      Screw you too.

  • by Gavin Scott (15916) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:01PM (#32324350)

    From what I've been reading, all this material has been available for a long time to anyone who wanted to visit the library that holds it, and multiple biographies and even "autobiographies" have been published using information from it.

    So there are unlikely to be any shocking new revelations here.

    People will just get a chance to read things in his own words rather than the paraphrasing of a biographer.

    G.

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:07PM (#32324444)
    We finally get to hear his side of the story of meeting Guinan and Data.
  • by dafz1 (604262) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:08PM (#32324450)

    "Twain planned to republish every one of his works the moment it went out of copyright with one-third more content, hoping that availability of such 'premium' version will make prints based on the out-of-copyright version less desirable on the market."

    So George Lucas didn't come up with this first. Not that it makes it ok.

  • by tobiah (308208) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:11PM (#32324496)

    Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens didn't make any secrets about his political views. If there were personally damaging revelations in there (criminal or moral confession) I could see insisting it only be published after his death. But 100 years later? The only reason I see for that is the autobiagraphies contain socially damaging information about people who were close to him, so that it might not only hurt them but their descendants.

    • He was a public figure. Controversial views can easily damage public opinion of someone if they are trying to appeal the mainstream. See Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise etc. My understanding of his late life jottings is that he did have plenty of secrets about his personal views. His more popular works obviously covered a wide spectrum, but he didn't often blatantly criticize he felt were absurd. Instead he wrapped his criticisms in humor and innuendo, letting the reader explore the view in a more self dis

  • Be in 3D and have a tie-in to LOST?
  • Copyrights (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SnarfQuest (469614)

    ok, he wrote this thing over 100 years ago. So, who owns the copyrights to it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Loadmaster (720754)

      I'm not sure, but judging by the history of copyright laws I'd say no one/public, or Disney.

    • Re:Copyrights (Score:4, Informative)

      by AndrewNeo (979708) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:21PM (#32324664) Homepage

      Nobody. Even if you were using today's rules, it's life + 70 years, which means that it would have expired 30 years ago. That makes this public domain.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        Copyright extends from the date when it is published, not from when it is written (which is much harder to prove). The question is whether handing it over to UCB counted as publication - probably not, in which case the copyright is owned by whoever owns the physical manuscript.

        In most cases this makes sense. Copyright doesn't exist to encourage people to write, it exists to encourage them to publish their writings and you shouldn't get any benefit from it if you are not publishing (DRM-locked distributio

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dkleinsc (563838)

      Nobody. It's before the existence of Steamboat Willie, and all the retroactive copyright extensions start right about there for some reason [opensecrets.org].

  • Lost (Score:2, Funny)

    by SnarfQuest (469614)

    This is actually his "spoilers" on the "Lost" show. He was the original author of that too, but didn't want it to be shown on TV until now. He was too ashamed to admit that he wrote something that bad while he was alive.

  • Interesting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by calderra (1034658)
    "...and takes the view that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel". Mark Twain, 1835 to 1910. World War I, 1914 to 1918. Imagine if work like this would have been taken seriously back then.
  • Perhaps, for those who can't wait, you should read his Letters From The Earth, published 30 years after his death....

    A paraphrase, Lucifer writing to St. Pete: these folks think that there's no sex in heaven... and those who hate utterly boring sermons and harp music are really looking forward to an eternity of that"

                      mark

  • Samuel Clemens was a hell of a salesman.

    He's going to be dead, he's not going to a dime of those sales.

    However, if he puts his writings on hold for 100 years, then, well, that's a bit more of a sale than if he simply sold them posthumously.

  • I have always enjoyed his works and his point of view. Calling "patriotism the last refuge of the scoundrel" is a statement that is true in our times and should have been stated 10+ years ago even though I doubt it could have stopped the invasion and occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan.

    As far back as the beginning of the 20th century, the color of the hat of the U.S. shifted from white to grey... and lately from grey to black. In my opinion, this is simply tragic.

  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:23PM (#32325614)
    Why should copyright take care of one's kids almost indefinitely? Sudden death apart, what right do children have to be treated well by their deceased predecessor? Why shouldn't I have to earn my living if my dad was a dead -pun not intended- good writer?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Conversely, what right do you have to copy his words or print words he wrote and sell them for your profit? I'd give his kids the rights before I'd give some random bastard those rights.

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