Thursday, 2 February 2012

The diaries of Adam and Eve

One great advantage of participating in challenges is  that I get to read books I would perhaps not even have considered.  In the What's in a name challenge, for example, I had to search for books whose title would include something carried in a purse.  I thought of a diary and so stumbled upon this book.

I was intrigued by the title of this book, the Diaries of Adam and Eve, as translated by Mark Twain.  Did he really intend to write something on (the trials of) domestic bliss?  How would that book compare to the likes of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer for which I had known him?  
That was when I started reading first about the author, and discovered that, apart from children's books, he was a well known satirist and social commentator!  Now, I was really interested in the book!
The diary entries of Adam and Eve provide an insight into the first days of their lives, before the  serpent appeared (...) and how they come to terms first of all with their existence (they're experiments and creatures) but also with each other.
True, Twain chooses a typical caricature for Adam and Eve - a heavy, few-words male and a semi-giggling, fashion-conscious female character.  Even in their respective entries, Adam barely fills up a page while Eve has to describe and comment on EVERYTHING in her stride (I can't remember how much I wrote in my diary back in the day, but I would not be surprised if I too wrote everything down)

The living arrangements are depicted from two very different perspectives and Twain is a genius in making social commentary in such an efficient manner that passes as humour.  The realisation that Adam and Eve are a "we" makes Adam anxious, as he starts recalling the nice quiet there was when he was alone (so he did exist before Eve - Twain kept the chronology right) while Eve uses it from the first instance (social prejudice, I say).  He moans about getting rest only one day, instead of the whole week, while Eve creates fire... (in most of the couples, I do see the women being the organisers of things, while when I see men on their own, they lead a very care-free lifestyle...). 
The serpent appears, the apple is eaten, and out they go from the Garden of Eden.  Life is not what they are used to, and Adam's comments show how everything is a new experience - what is surprising, however, is that he always seems to be beaten by Eve.  She gets to have the last word in almost everything (I won't argue with that...)

The arrival of Cain creates havoc and Adam is left wondering what the fuss is all about - again, it was common for men in those days (some feel it even now) being at a loss in front of a new-born, this new life that knows nothing, and they have no idea how to handle them - whereas women are supposed to instinctively know all about it! (tiny bit of sarcasm..)

But it all ends well:  Adam realises that "it is better to live outside the Garden with (Eve) than inside it without her", while Eve loves him too, albeit not for the same reasons:

"It is not on account of his brightness that I love him—no, it is not that. It is not on account of his industry that I love him—no, it is not that. It is not on account of his education that I love him...It is not on account of his chivalry that I love him... Then why is it that I love him? I think I love him merely because he is MINE and is MASCULINE"

(some sneering and suppressed laughter included...)

The very end caught me quite unexpected: "ADAM: Wheresoever she was, THERE was Eden".  Twain finally captures the true essence of a couple - a close-knit team, going through life, making the best of every situation (at least that's how it should be).

I found reading the Diaries very relaxing, but still with a few points that made me think deeper about the co-existence of men and women.  But the revelation was indeed Twain himself, and I look forward to reading more of his witty books now!


  1. I had never heard of this book. It sounds really interesting.

  2. I went through a Mark Twain phase some years ago, I love his sense of humour. I bought really old copies of these books which were originally published separately, they're a good bit of fun.

  3. I never really looked into Twain's writings, so thanks for pointing that out.
    I'm left wondering if I should be interested into reading that book or if its social prejudice would just make me cringe...




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