The Moon and Mark Twain

mark-twain_198x198There is a famous quote by the American writer Mark Twain (1835–1910), taken from his satirical travel guide »A Tramp Abroad«, published in 1880: »Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.« He alludes to the astronomical fact that the Moon only turns one side towards the Earth, due to its synchronous rotation. The reverse side of the Moon remains hidden to us when observed from Earth.

In this narrative, Mark Twain describes a journey of two friends who travel through Germany and Italy. The Moon and the moonlight was mentioned several times in this book and was also applied as stylistic means. Further, it contains many drawings where the full moon is depicted.


Mark Twain had a great interest in astronomy. He was born, shortly after Halley’s Comet became visible (November 1835) and was hoping to die around the time of the next sighting of the comet (April 1910). He used to say, »I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t.« Indeed, he passed away exactly at that time. Sometimes unbelievable things happen …

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