Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mark Twain Says...

In Marley & Me, there's a line where John Grogan says something very close to "Mark Twain says never use an exclamation point, it's like laughing at your own joke." I was curious if Twain ever really said that, so I started Googling...

Turns out his book How to Tell a Story and Others does mention this, sort of, but it goes like so:

But the teller of the comic story does not slur the nub; he shouts it at you--every time. And when he prints it, in England, France, Germany, and Italy, he italicizes it, puts some whooping exclamation-points after it, and somtimes explains it in a parenthesis. All of which is very depressing, and makes one want to renounce joking and lead a better life.
Now, that's out of context, but you get the idea. I think this is what John Grogan was referring to, but I'm not sure it's a commentary on exclamation points in general, more that he didn't like their use in triplicate in a specific, and sometimes general, instance. What I found more interesting (like the italics?) was how joking was somehow causing one to defer any attempt to "lead a better life."

Of course, maybe I just didn't find what Grogan was referring to and I'm just rambling. Suck it up, it's my blog and I can ramble if I want!!!

7 comments:

jane elizabeth said...

The real question is if it was also said in the book, or if it was a Hollywood embelishment...if so, you might get more info in that version of the story.

Lady Holiday said...

What's wrong with laughing at your own jokes, anyway?!!!

Donnie Barnes said...

Jane, don't you have the book?

And Holly, yeah, I agree. Twain was known for being a bit of a crank at times, so either he was cranky or as Alisa says she recalls from college, he may have been being facetious.

allie said...

i just adore mark twain and this quote. doesn't the last line sound kind of like something lis would say? :)

jane elizabeth said...

Yes, I have the book, but I read it something like 2 years ago. A lot has happened in that time! My retention of minutia like that is pretty poor anyway. Now, if it something I read BEFORE children, that's another story.
I personally think he was being facetious, probably because I'm going to believe the English major.

Pastor Dave Mason said...

The quote is actually from F.Scott Fitzgerald. Google it and you'll get a dozen or so references.
Maybe the screenwriters didn't think as many people would know who F.Scott Fitzgerald was!!! (get it, exclamation points???)

charliejx said...

"Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke."
The quote was said by F.Scott Fitzgerald. As a screenwriter I seriously think it was said wrong on purpose. I just saw the movie today and it got me wondering so I started Googleling myself. The good
screenwriters make wrong references like that on purpose. It makes the characters real that way.