The American Vandal Abroad: By Mark Twain

The American Vandal Abroad

There is no definitive text of a MT lecture. For the "American Vandal" he followed his usual practice of writing it out and committing it to memory, but in performance it was a living thing. In essence it remained the same throughout the 1868-1869 tour, but on any given night he could make it longer or shorter, try out new ideas, and so on. The version below is Albert Bigelow Paine's, from Mark Twain's Speeches; other versions can be found in Fred W. Lorch's Trouble Begins At Eight and Paul Fatout's Mark Twain Speaking. Paine's is the shortest, probably about half as long as any talk MT delivered, and the least humorous. Like Mrs. Fairbanks, Paine obviously preferred what MT called "the serious passages." These moments were important to contemporary audiences, who wanted to feel "improved" or "instructed" or "uplifted" in the lyceum, but MT's great popularity as a speaker came from his humor. To see examples of the kinds of passages audiences laughed at, but Paine minimized, the text below has links to a couple additional passages -- the first from Fatout's, the second from Lorch's versions of the lecture.

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