Markiss, King of Liars – Part 3

April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four. – Pudd’nhead Wilson

Answering question 2) Is this technique an example of reverse psychology?, from the November 8, 2014 post, and reflecting on the question, if the Markiss writings are examples of reverse psychology, I think Clemens would say, “Yes.” By illustrating how foolish Markiss appears from telling the grossly exaggerated stories, untruths, or lies, he hopes people will tell the truth. Clemens’s spirited personality was apt to reflect nonconformity rather than following the norm. I believe he went to great lengths to shock people with his appearance, actions, statements, and writings. This can be seen in his youth, and continues until his death. Examples include his mother’s statements about believing 5% of everything he ever says; wearing his famous white suit to Washington D.C. to testify at a Congressional Hearing at the Library of Congress on copyright law; and my favorite Mark Twain maxim, “Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause, and reflect.” – Mark Twain’s Notebook [1935 ed.]

Markiss, King of Liars – Part 3 – from Roughing It, published in1872.


I think it was about ten days afterward that, as I finished a statement I was making for the instruction of a group of friends and acquaintances, and which made no pretence of being extraordinary, a familiar voice chimed instantly in on the heels of my last word, and said:

“But, my dear sir, there was nothing remarkable about that horse, or the circumstance either—nothing in the world! I mean no sort of offence when I say it, sir, but you really do not know anything whatever about speed. Bless your heart, if you could only have seen my mare Margaretta; there was a beast!—there was lightning for you! Trot! Trot is no name for it—she flew! How she could whirl a buggy along! I started her out once, sir—Colonel Bilgewater, you recollect that animal perfectly well—I started her out about thirty or thirty-five yards ahead of the awfullest storm I ever saw in my life, and it chased us upwards of eighteen miles! It did, by the everlasting hills! And I’m telling you nothing but the unvarnished truth when I say that not one single drop of rain fell on me—not a single drop, sir! And I swear to it! But my dog was a-swimming behind the wagon all the way!”

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