Tales of Twain and his time in the islands

Aloha readers! Another nice surprise this week!

Just when you thought you knew everything about Mark Twain!

Author Bettye Oliger Fox presents us with a fascinating, easy-to-read biography of this unforgettable figure of American history’s time in 1800s Hawaii, entitled “The Privilege of Man is to Dream: Mark Twain’s Visit to Hawaii.”

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain) was a young man of 30 when he boarded the sail-steamer Ajax on March 7, 1866, to venture on an ocean voyage to the Hawaiian Islands as a roving reporter for The Sacramento Union. He had not yet written his classic iconic works “Huckleberry Finn,” “Tom Sawyer,” or “Life on the Mississippi.”

Still poor and not yet internationally known, his Sandwich Islands venture (a place later to become known to the wider public as the Hawaiian Islands) would become the catalyst to take Clements from roving reporter to famous speaker to famous writer, enabling him to ascend to the heights of literary greatness.

Planning only to spend one month in Hawaii, he was so intoxicated by the islands and this culture that he spent four months more than planned.

His adventures on Maui alone, with such happenings as the local ladies turning a water hose on him to secretly find out if he had other attire beyond his flapping linen duster, only intrigued him to stay longer on Maui.

After leaving Honolulu, he would not return for another 29 years. But his experiences during the short months that he was here made an impression, for he had spent his single “youth” at 33 years old in a different place and culture that he quickly learned to appreciate, and it became the catalyst that started his famed writing career.

This is enjoyably written and interesting for the casual or familiar reader of Mark Twain!


Ed and Cynthia Lynn Justus are owners of The Bookstore in Hanapepe.


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