Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Taming the Bicycle by Mark Twain

I like Mark Twain.  When I was very young I remember my Mom read me The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Later in high school A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court became my favorite Mark Twain book.  As I have gotten older I have come to appreciate Twain's satirical style and wry sense of humor.  I think he would fit right in today as an author.

I never knew he rode a bike until I read a short essay Twain wrote about learning to ride a Pennyfarthing. I found the piece at http://www.bikereader.com/BikeReader.html an interesting website that collects bike related literature.  Read the essay here:  http://www.bikereader.com/contributors/misc/taming.html#top

Here is a drawing of a Pennyfarthing or Highwheeler to help with the comic effect.


  1. Hello Mike,

    I like Mark Twain too and have his entire works downloaded to my Kindle. (300)

    It's a shame that some of his writing has been banned by our public schools because they accurately reflected racial conditions at that time. History, regardless of its ugliness at times, is what it is. Whether we agree with it or not, literature should accurately portray our society so we can learn from our mistakes and move forward.

    He was a complex individual. Much of his writing is a grammatical disaster but he was also a master at communication. He once said " A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."

    I wonder what he really meant by that?

  2. ps....can't find "taming" in the table of contents on my Kindle. I wonder where they found this?

  3. Hi John,

    I've been considering one of the ebook readers for a while now. everybody I talk to loves theirs. I really like the idea of using it outside without the breeze turning the pages for me. Also it seems handy to have multiple books loaded on the device. I tend to read more than one book at a time.

    I may be wrong but I don't think they de-clawed feline pets back then. I bet that has something to do with it.

    I'm sure you saw the footnote at the bottom:
    "'What Is Man? and Other Essays' (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1917)
    We've read that Twain himself never offered 'Taming of the Bicycle' for publication."

    Maybe it was in that collection? Any way what a neat story from the past. My favorite is the very last line- "If I see that kid out again I'll run over him too if he doesn't reform." Hilarious!

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