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New Mark Twain essays forthcoming

Before his death, Franz Kafka famously told his literary executor, Max Brod, to burn all his manuscripts. Brod didn’t listen, and as a result, Western literature has The Trial and The Castle. Last year, there was a minor brouhaha in the literary world over whether Dmitri Nabokov would accede to his father’s wishes and destroy his final, unfinished manuscript. Dmitri waffled, but eventually said that he’d allow the work to be published.

Apparently Mark Twain was similarly reticent about having his correspondence and other written materials publicly displayed after his death. In a letter to his brother, quoted in the Guardian, Twain wrote, “I don’t want any absurd ‘literary remains’ and ‘unpublished letters of Mark Twain’ published after I am planted.” The American humourist has now been “planted” for close to a century, and a new collection of unpublished essays, titled Who Is Mark Twain?, is set to make an appearance next month.

According to Alison Flood in the Guardian, the book, to be published by HarperStudio in the U.K., will feature 24 previously unpublished stories and essays, including one titled “Jane Austen,” in which Twain posits that Austen’s intent was to “make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters.”

Quillblog was unable to discover whether the book has a Canadian publisher as yet.