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Directory of Mark Twain's maxims, quotations, and various opinions:

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OESOPHAGUS - ( a hoax Clemens played on his readers via a paragraph of purple prose)

It was a crisp and spicy morning in early October. The lilacs and laburnums, lit with the glory-fires of autumn, hung burning and flashing in the upper air, a fairy bridge provided by kind nature for the wingless wild things that have their home in the tree-tops and would visit together; the larch and the pomegranate flung their purple and yellow flames in brilliant broad splashes along the slanting sweep of woodland, the sensuous fragrance of innumerable deciduous flowers rose upon the swooning atmosphere, far in the empty sky a solitary oesophagus slept upon motionless wing; everywhere brooded stillness, serenity, and the peace of God.
- "A Double Barrelled Detective Story"

I published a short story lately & it was in that that I put the oesophagus. I will say privately that I expected it to bother some people--in fact, that was the intention--but the harvest has been larger than I was calculating upon. The oesophagus has gathered in the guilty and the innocent alike, whereas I was only fishing for the innocent--the innocent and confiding.
- Letter to Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican, quoted in Mark Twain: A Biography

 

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