Mark Twain made a splash from beyond the grave in November with the publication of the first volume of his autobiography. This month you can get a preview of the second volume, due in 2012, in an unlikely outlet — Playboy magazine.
We spoke with Leopold Froehlich, Playboy’s managing editor, about what made the skin mag a good venue for the deceased American bellelettrist.
The famous joke is “I only read Playboy for the articles,” but there actually can be a little truth to that statement. What keeps the magazine committed to literary subjects? It is a core part of our tradition, one that Mr. Hefner encourages us to maintain. You might not believe it, but it’s as much a part of the magazine as the centerfolds.
How did the magazine acquire this excerpt from the Twain autobiography? We pursued it. We worked closely with University of California Press, and we wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Why did you choose this excerpt where he visits the palm reader? We liked the skepticism of it; the free-thinking way of looking at mystical nonsense. Playboy has always been a force for rationality, as was Samuel Clemens [Twain].
What do you think Twain would make of being published in Playboy? I would expect him to appreciate the irony of it.