"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Birthdays Today - Twain and Churchill

It's Mark Twain's birthday.   He was born in 1835.   Has there ever been an American novel better than Huck Finn?   Maybe, but I can't think of it.   There's never been a more American character than Huck Finn, I'm certain.   And I doubt there's ever been a more wonderful voice for a novel in any language.   The opening of Huck Finn is perhaps the greatest moment in American literature, because of that voice.   The voice came out of the West, and it burst on the American literary scene like a supernova.   (To steal from Springsteen, another American original.)

You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Saywer; but that ain't no matter.   That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.   There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.  That is nothing.   I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary.   Aunt Polly -- Tom's Aunt Polly, she is -- and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.


It's also Winston Churchill's birthday, born in 1874.   What can one say about Churchill other than he probably would get my vote as the Great Man of the Twentieth Century.   The Man found his Moment in 1940 in the Battle of Britain:

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