Monday, January 31, 2011

Mark Twain and Halley's Comet

Mark Twain, Halley's Comet
Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Most of his childhood was spent with fishermen and boatmen in Mississippi. He adopted the pen name from the boatsmen who used to measure the depth of the water by rods or ropes and shouted "Mark One" to mean 1 fathom (= 6ft), or "Mark Twain" to mean 2 fathoms (= 12 ft).

Mark was born in 1835. Interestingly, this was the year when Halley's comet was travelling across the planet earth. Later Mark used to make fun of it to his friends like, "Look, I came to the earth riding on Halley's comet, and I should leave the earth again riding on it".

He died in 1910 - exactly 75 years later. You might know Halley's comet comes to the earth every 75 or 76 years according to precise calculation by Edmond Halley. He died exactly the same year when Halley's comet appeared again in the sky.

When I was a child, I used to incarnate the figure of Huck Fin in my dreams when I first read the novel. But again when I read Tom Sawyer, I was in a dilemma whether I should adopt Huck Fin or Tom Sawyer. But anyway, I did not find any Becky to get infatuated with - so sad - my entire life was spent in boys' school, boys' college, boys' university... :(.

The two novels are related - Tom Sawyer comes first and then Huck Fin. But I read in the reverse as I did not know. There are two more novels named after Tom. Buy your kids these books. These will be treasures to them if you can help them measure the preciousness. Let the adventure begin for them.

We don't really know where we are coming from and where we go apart from our religious beliefs. So, although a coincidence, it is still nice to think that Mr. Clemens came to this earth riding on Halley's comet and also left the earth the same way. It is good that Halley's comet came to earth, and brought Mark Twain along with it - otherwise we would not have wonderful novels like Huck or Tom... :)

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