Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mark Twain at Duino Castle

Mark Twain's responses to a guestbook questionnaire at Duino Castle, on display in the Castle museum. Twain visited Duino in May, 1899, while staying in Nuremberg.  12 years later, between October 1911 and May 1912, Rilke would stay there and find inspiration for his Duino Elegies Twain's responses to the questionnaire are as follows:

Name and position
Mark Twain
(geb. S.L. Clemens)
Ambassador at large U.S.A.

Staying at/date
N├╝rnberg, May 29, 1899

The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it

Highest wish
That I may pass for what I ought to be, not what I am

Favorite author or composer

Favorite flower

Lifelong occupation

Worst habit
Das Rauchen [ie. smoking]

Greatest dislike
Getting up

Favorite book
The Jungle Books

Favorite poem
Omar's Rubaiyat

Favorite color
Old gold (22 karat)

Favorite drink
Pure water, adulterated with Scotch whisky

p.s -In 1897, Twain spoke to the Concordia Press Club in Vienna in German, amusing his audience with the speech  "Die Schrecken der deutschen Sprache" ("The Horrors of the German Language")  For readers with even a rudimentary familiarity with German, Twain's literal translation of the speech into English is equally hilarious.

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