Where the Twain Meet: The Enduring Cross-Generational Appeal of Tom Sawyer

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Mark Twain scholar Robert Hirst examines how the author maximized the appeal of his book for both young readers and adults—including changes Twain made to the text that preserved necessary “proprieties,” which can be rather mysterious to readers 135 years later.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in such a fashion that his first novel simultaneously addressed two divergent audiences: the young and the formerly young. At times, his story ridicules boyhood fantasies (such as finding buried treasure and rescuing a damsel in distress) and later grants these same ridiculous hopes and dreams. In creating a text that speaks to two age groups, Twain appears as the literary forerunner of Pixar Animation Studios.

Twain scholar Robert Hirst details how the author maximized the appeal of his book for both young readers and adults – including changes he made to the text in order to preserve the necessary "proprieties," which can be rather mysterious to readers 135 years later.

Hirst is the general editor and official curator of the Mark Twain Papers and Project at the University of California – Berkeley, where he is currently developing the second volume of the bestselling Autobiography of Mark Twain.

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