This article is about Clemens’s early California and Hawaii notebooks (Notebooks IV–VI, Jan. 1865–Apr. 1866), which he used during the period recounted years later in approximately the last quarter of Roughing It. An illustrated reading of the notebook makes three general points: first, that Clemens used pocket notebooks and graphite pencils (the mid-nineteenth-century’s portable media) to train himself to write down experience as he saw and heard it; second, that the traces left by this training process were (and are) ironic, because they visibly and comically fail to capture experience; and third, that Clemens referred to the notebooks throughout his career for their evocative gestures (as much if not more than the linguistic contents). Following readings of the notebooks that are grounded in graphite traces and their multiple afterlives in print, this article concludes by hailing their forthcoming publication online, where other scholars and general readership will be able to see their traces.

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