A general disclaimer: No I do not believe this book is true. No I do not believe in the biblical story.
Eve's Diary can be found in a beautifully written and presented e-book here. It looks wonderful on my Kindle. A public domain audio recording of the work is attached to this post, but I warn you that I have no idea what that means. So you can download that for your Ipod here.
The book contains beautiful illustrations Lester Ralf, which apparently got the edition banned from a library in Charlton, Massachusetts banned for the depictions of Eve in "summer costume." Naked Adam was apparently not offensive. Twain's response (to Congress, no less) is genius.
It seems curious to me — some of the incidents in this case. It appears that the pictures in Eve's Diary were first discovered by a lady librarian. When she made the dreadful find, being very careful, she jumped at no hasty conclusions — not she — she examined the horrid things in detail. It took her some time to examine them all, but she did her hateful duty! I don't blame her for this careful examination; the time she spent was, I am sure, enjoyable, for I found considerable fascination in them myself.
Then she took the book to another librarian, a male this time, and he, also, took a long time to examine the unclothed ladies. He must have found something of the same sort of fascination in them that I found…
Extracts from the Diary of Adam, (note the more complex title), can be found in a much less attractive and much more analytically written e-book here. Really you're better off looking at the facsimiles of the original scholarly 1904 edition available here. You can feed your Ipod with a public domain reading of the book here.
Although the two documents recount the story in parallel and perfectly complement each other, which is very neat, I think it makes the most sense to read Eve's diary first.
|In the interest of sound scholarship and to|
prove to all naysayers the absolute legitimacy
of his bold claim, original pictures of all the
clay tablets were provided in his original edition.
Take that, doubters! If only Joseph Smith
thought of this.
Eve's DiaryFrom the beginning Eve is portrayed as the world's first scientist and she sees herself as a scientific experiment. Here is the beginning of her first journal entry. In fact, Twain portrays her as the world's first scientist.
SATURDAY.—I am almost a whole day old, now. I arrived yesterday. That is as it seems to me. And it must be so, for if there was a day-before-yesterday I was not there when it happened, or I should remember it. It could be, of course, that it did happen, and that I was not noticing. Very well; I will be very watchful now, and if any day-before-yesterdays happen I will make a note of it. It will be best to start right and not let the record get confused, for some instinct tells me that these details are going to be important to the historian some day. For I feel like an experiment, I feel exactly like an experiment; it would be impossible for a person to feel more like an experiment than I do, and so I am coming to feel convinced that that is what I AM—an experiment; just an experiment, and nothing more.
During her experimentation upon scratching herself with a thorn she comes up with the world's first axiom: "THE SCRATCHED EXPERIMENT SHUNS THE THORN."
Shortly there after she sees Adam, the first man.
I followed the other Experiment around, yesterday afternoon, at a distance, to see what it might be for, if I could. But I was not able to make [it] out. I think it is a man. I had never seen a man, but it looked like one, and I feel sure that that is what it is. I realize that I feel more curiosity about it than about any of the other reptiles. If it is a reptile, and I suppose it is; for it has frowzy hair and blue eyes, and looks like a reptile. It has no hips; it tapers like a carrot; when it stands, it spreads itself apart like a derrick; so I think it is a reptile, though it may be architecture.
The story delightfully tracks the developing relationship between the Man Experiment and the Woman Experiment through the eyes of Eve. It mostly involves the man being unimpressed by the majesty and beauty of the world and generally trying to escape from the woman to be on his own.
A little later on, she discovers fire and after burning her finger on an ember adds a second maxim: "THE BURNT EXPERIMENT SHUNS THE FIRE."
Towards the end of her journal she expresses the joy of the scientific process of experimentation and learning. Granted, she got some of the facts wrong - that is part of the charm of the story. Twain makes his character Eve be the first spark of the scientific spirit.
I have learned a number of things, and am educated, now, but I wasn't at first. I was ignorant at first. At first it used to vex me because, with all my watching, I was never smart enough to be around when the water was running uphill; but now I do not mind it. I have experimented and experimented until now I know it never does run uphill, except in the dark. I know it does in the dark, because the pool never goes dry, which it would, of course, if the water didn't come back in the night. It is best to prove things by actual experiment; then you KNOW; whereas if you depend on guessing and supposing and conjecturing, you never get educated.
Some things you CAN'T find out; but you will never know you can't by guessing and supposing: no, you have to be patient and go on experimenting until you find out that you can't find out. And it is delightful to have it that way, it makes the world so interesting. If there wasn't anything to find out, it would be dull. Even trying to find out and not finding out is just as interesting as trying to find out and finding out, and I don't know but more so. The secret of the water was a treasure until I GOT it; then the excitement all went away, and I recognized a sense of loss.
At first I couldn't make out what I was made for, but now I think it was to search out the secrets of this wonderful world and be happy and thank the Giver of it all for devising it. I think there are many things to learn yet—I hope so; and by economizing and not hurrying too fast I think they will last weeks and weeks. I hope so. When you cast up a feather it sails away on the air and goes out of sight; then you throw up a clod and it doesn't. It comes down, every time. I have tried it and tried it, and it is always so. I wonder why it is? Of course it DOESN'T come down, but why should it SEEM to? I suppose it is an optical illusion. I mean, one of them is. I don't know which one. It may be the feather, it may be the clod; I can't prove which it is, I can only demonstrate that one or the other is a fake, and let a person take his choice.
During the entire work, Twain closely links the curiosity that leads Eve to scientific experimentation and discovering with a broad awe of the wonder and beauty of all things around her. Much like an ancient day Carl Sagan, she recognizes the beauty of the cosmos and delights in discovering the intricate web of cause and effect that underlies the very machinery of the universe. She enjoys the very act of discovering new things and dreads a day when there is nothing left to discover.
Extracts From the Diary of Adam
Adam's less poetic accounts trace a man who starts out devoid of any awe of the universe, beauty, art or any scientific spirit whatsoever.
Was she satisfied now? No. Nothing ever satisfies her but demonstration; untested theories are not in her line, and she won't have them. It is the right spirit, I concede it; it attracts me; I feel the influence of it; if I were with her more I think I should take it up myself.
Read the story and you will see what I mean. However, as the story progresses, Adam becomes more scientifically minded. But his motivation is not the same as Eve's - it doesn't come from any sense of wonder. For instance, Adam has concluded that his son Cain is not human but actually a member of the kangaroo family. He is concerned about taking credit for the discovery.
The short front legs and long hind ones indicate that it is of the kangaroo family, but it is a marked variation of the species, since the true kangaroo hops, whereas this one never does. Still, it is a curious and interesting variety, and has not been catalogued before. As I discovered it, I have felt justified in securing the credit of the discovery by attaching my name to it, and hence have called it Kangaroorum Adamiensis….
Adam is not a good scientist.
During both stories, the bond between both strengthens and becomes a beautiful component in both stories - expressed more lyrically by Eve's diary of course.
A Word About Gender Roles
I like to consider myself to be a feminist. In fact, although I take care of my two year old son for half the day, every day while my wife is at work, I refuse to call myself a Mr Mom. I'm a Mr. Dad, thank you, because staying home with my child makes me no less a father and no more a mother.
These stories express some pretty well-trodden stereotypes of female vs male behaviour. I think we can all acknowledge this. That said, I think they are rather beautiful and quite entertaining.