In “Hatching Ruin,” Charles H. Gold provides a complete description of Samuel L. Clemens’s business relationships with Charles L. Webster and James W. Paige during the 1880s. Gold analyzes how these relationships affected Clemens as a person and an artist, most notably in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
The 1880s were a time when Samuel Clemens was more businessman than author. Clemens wanted to be rich. From an early age, he had dreamed of wealth. Suspicious of his previous publisher, Clemens started a publishing company and placed Charles L. Webster, who was married to his niece, at the head of it. He also invested large sums of money with James Paige, who was developing a typesetting machine. These were to be Clemens’s instruments of success—his way to bring technology to the world and become so rich that he would never need to earn money again.
Unfortunately for him, Paige was a perfectionist and a compulsive tinkerer who never stopped working on the typesetting machine. When, after early success, the publishing company began to fail, Clemens was unable to continue his investments in the typesetter. He blamed both Webster and Paige for his failure to “get rich quick” and for his eventual bankruptcy in 1894. Gold argues that these financial changes in his life helped to shape Connecticut Yankee, an important novel and cultural statement.
At the beginning of the 1880s, while life was still good, Clemens wrote Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in part a nostalgic look at youth and innocence in preindustrial America. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, written after the author’s financial failures, is a savage condemnation of the Gilded Age, especially technology’s role in it. Gold’s “Hatching Ruin” tells for the first time the full story of Clemens’s experiences as an investor, employer, and entrepreneur during the Gilded Age.
Gold uses previously unpublished material from family correspondence and Clemens’s autobiographical dictations to present a far more complex picture of the man most people know only as Mark Twain. He also offers a fuller depiction of Charles Webster and his relationship with Clemens than was previously available, while answering many questions that have hung over that relationship. This book will have a wide appeal to both Twain students and scholars, as well as anyone interested in social history.
At his death, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) was universally acknowledged in America and England as "the Great Romancer." Novels such as The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables and stories published in such collections as Twice-Told Tales continue to capture the minds and imaginations of readers and critics to this day. Harder to capture, however, were the character and personality of the man himself. So few of the essays that appeared in the two years after his death offered new insights into his life, art, and reputation that Hawthorne seemed fated to premature obscurity or, at least, permanent misrepresentation. This first collection of personal reminiscences by those who knew Hawthorne intimately or knew about him through reliable secondary sources rescues him from these confusions and provides the real human history behind the successful writer.
Remembrances from Elizabeth Peabody, Sophia Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Rebecca Harding Davis, and twenty others printed in Hawthorne in His Own Time follow him from his childhood in Salem, through his years of initial literary obscurity, his days in the Boston and Salem Custom Houses, his service as U.S. Consul to Liverpool and Manchester and his life in the Anglo-American communities at Rome and Florence, to his late years as the "Great Romancer."
In their enlightening introduction, editors Ronald Bosco and Jillmarie Murphy assess the postmortem building of Hawthorne's reputation as well as his relationship to the prominent Transcendentalists, spiritualists, Swedenborgians, and other personalities of his time. By clarifying the sentimental associations between Hawthorne's writings and his actual personality and moving away from the critical review to the personal narrative, these artful and perceptive reminiscences tell the private and public story of a remarkable life.
Charm, wit, compassion, wisdom, literature, nature, sex, humor, politics, sorrow, love: these themes fill the late journal pages of enigmatic American writer Glenway Wescott. From humble beginnings on a poor Wisconsin farm, Wescott went on to study at the University of Chicago, narrowly survive the Spanish flu pandemic, and eventually emerge as an influential poet and novelist. A major figure in the American literary expatriate community in Paris during the 1920s and a prominent American novelist in the years leading up to World War II, he spent a decade living abroad before relocating permanently to New York and New Jersey with his partner, Museum of Modern Art publications director and curator Monroe Wheeler.
Together they mixed with such intellectual and creative greats as Jean Cocteau, Colette, George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, Somerset Maugham, Christopher Isherwood, Marianne Moore, W. H. Auden, Truman Capote, Joseph Campbell, and scores of other luminaries. During the second half of his life, Wescott wrote nonfiction essays and worked for the Academy Institute of Arts and Letters, all the while keeping journals in which he recorded the experiences that fostered his love of life, literature, the arts, and humanity. A Heaven of Words looks back on Wescott's entire fascinating life and reveals the riveting narrative of his last decades.
In 1937 and 1938, Ernest Hemingway made four trips to Spain to cover its civil war for the North American News Alliance wire service and to help create the pro-Republican documentary film The Spanish Earth. Hemingway’s Second War is the first book-length scholarly work devoted to this subject.
Drawing on primary sources, Alex Vernon provides a thorough account of Hemingway’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War, a messy, complicated, brutal precursor to World War II that inspired Hemingway’s great novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. Vernon also offers the most sustained history and consideration to date of The Spanish Earth. Directed by Joris Ivens, this film was a landmark work in the development of war documentaries, for which Hemingway served as screenwriter and narrator.
Contributing factual, textual, and contextual information to Hemingway studies in general and his participation in the war specifically, Vernon has written a critical biography for Hemingway’s experiences during the Spanish Civil War that includes discussion of the left-wing politics of the era and the execution of José Robles Pazos. Finally, the book provides readings ofFor Whom the Bell Tollsboth in historical context and on its own terms.
Marked by both impressive breadth and accessibility, Hemingway’s Second War will be an indispensible resource for students of literature, film, journalism, and European history and a landmark work for readers of Ernest Hemingway.
This is a study of the ways various kinds of injury and trauma affected Ernest Hemingway’s life and writing, from the First World War through his suicide in 1961.
Linda Wagner-Martin has written or edited more than sixty books including Ernest Hemingway, A Literary Life. She is Frank Borden Hanes Professor Emerita at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a winner of the Jay B. Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement.
Henry David Thoreau: A Life
Laura Dassow Walls University of Chicago Press, 2017 Library of Congress PS3053.W28 2017 | Dewey Decimal 818.309
“Walden. Yesterday I came here to live.” That entry from the journal of Henry David Thoreau, and the intellectual journey it began, would by themselves be enough to place Thoreau in the American pantheon. His attempt to “live deliberately” in a small woods at the edge of his hometown of Concord has been a touchstone for individualists and seekers since the publication of Walden in 1854.
But there was much more to Thoreau than his brief experiment in living at Walden Pond. A member of the vibrant intellectual circle centered on his neighbor Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was also an ardent naturalist, a manual laborer and inventor, a radical political activist, and more. Many books have taken up various aspects of Thoreau’s character and achievements, but, as Laura Dassow Walls writes, “Thoreau has never been captured between covers; he was too quixotic, mischievous, many-sided.” Two hundred years after his birth, and two generations after the last full-scale biography, Walls restores Henry David Thoreau to us in all his profound, inspiring complexity.
Walls traces the full arc of Thoreau’s life, from his early days in the intellectual hothouse of Concord, when the American experiment still felt fresh and precarious, and “America was a family affair, earned by one generation and about to pass to the next.” By the time he died in 1862, at only forty-four years of age, Thoreau had witnessed the transformation of his world from a community of farmers and artisans into a bustling, interconnected commercial nation. What did that portend for the contemplative individual and abundant, wild nature that Thoreau celebrated?
Drawing on Thoreau’s copious writings, published and unpublished, Walls presents a Thoreau vigorously alive in all his quirks and contradictions: the young man shattered by the sudden death of his brother; the ambitious Harvard College student; the ecstatic visionary who closed Walden with an account of the regenerative power of the Cosmos. We meet the man whose belief in human freedom and the value of labor made him an uncompromising abolitionist; the solitary walker who found society in nature, but also found his own nature in the society of which he was a deeply interwoven part. And, running through it all, Thoreau the passionate naturalist, who, long before the age of environmentalism, saw tragedy for future generations in the human heedlessness around him.
“The Thoreau I sought was not in any book, so I wrote this one,” says Walls. The result is a Thoreau unlike any seen since he walked the streets of Concord, a Thoreau for our time and all time.
Henry Miller, Happy Rock
Brassaï University of Chicago Press, 2002 Library of Congress PS3525.I5454Z65813 2002 | Dewey Decimal 818.5209
"In a world like this one, it's difficult to devote oneself to art body and soul. To get published, to get exhibited, to get produced often requires ten or twenty years of patient, intense labor. I spent half my life at it! And how do you survive during all that time? Beg? Live off other people until you're successful? What a dog's life! I know something about that! You're always recognized too late. And today, it's no longer enough to have talent, originality, to write a good or beautiful book. One must be inspired! Not only touch the public but create one's own public. Otherwise, you're headed straight for suicide."
That's Henry Miller's advice for young aspiring artists, as remembered by his very good friend Brassaï in this lively book. One of two that Brassaï wrote about the man who called himself a "happy rock," this volume covers their lives and friendship from the 1950s to 1973. Over the course of a number of warm, intimate conversations, Brassaï and Miller revisit their careers; discuss art, literature, Paris, Greece, Japan, World War II, and more; and consider the lives and works of many others in their circle, including Lawrence Durrell, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dalí, Georges Simenon, André Malraux, Hans Reichel, Paul Klee, and Amedeo Modigliani. Throughout Miller's zest for life shines through, as do his love of art and his passionate intensity for just about everything he does, from discussing a movie or play he'd just seen to reminiscing about a decades-long love.
Brassaï's Henry Miller, Happy Rock presents a vivid portrait of two close friends who thoroughly enjoy each other's company—and just happen to be world—famous artists too.
Mary Ashley Townsend was a novelist, newspaper columnist, and poet laureate of New Orleans who made several trips to Mexico with her daughter Cora during the last two decades of the 19th century. She collected her impressions of many aspects of life in that country—flora, fauna, architecture, people at work and play, fashion, society, food—and wrote about them during a time when few women engaged in solo travel, much less the pursuit of travel writing. Her collected work was still in progress when she died in a train accident in 1901, and was never published.
Renowned Latin Americanist Ralph Lee Woodward Jr. discovered Townsend’s manuscript, along with many of the author’s personal papers, in the Special Collections division of Tulane University’s Howard-Tilton Library. In addition to annotating the text, he has written a critical introduction to the work that provides excellent background information about the author and places the work in its historical and cultural context.
Townsend’s writing provides an unusual feminine perspective on Mexico as she describes the country during the middle years of the Porfirio Diaz dictatorship, a pivotal time in Mexican history. Though Townsend does not delve heavily into politics her observations of people’s lives provide a valuable source for social historians of the period.
Here and There in Mexico will make new contribution to the field of Latin American studies and to the travel literature genre, both as a primary source for historians and as a well-written account of a southern woman’s impressions of Mexico during a crucial period in that country’s development.
Biography of a forgotten poet who used his name and influence to speak up for those on the margins of society.
Few surnames resonate in American history more than Beecher. The family’s abolitionist ministers, educators, and writers are central figures in the historical narrative of the United States. The Beechers’ influence was greatest in the nineteenth century, but the family story continued—albeit with less public attention—with a descendant who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, during the early twentieth century.
John Beecher (1904–1980) never had the public prominence of his famous ancestors, but as a poet, professor, sociologist, New Deal administrator, journalist, and civil rights activist, he spent his life fighting for the voiceless and oppressed with a distinct moral sensibility that reflected his self-identification as the twentieth-century torchbearer for his famous family. While John Beecher had many vocations in his lifetime, he always considered himself a poet and a teacher. Some critics have compared the populist elements of Beecher’s poetry to the work of Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg, but his writing never gained a broad audience or critical acclaim during his lifetime.
In Here I Stand:The Life and Legacy of John Beecher, Angela J. Smith examines Beecher’s writing and activism and places them in the broader context of American culture at pivotal points in the twentieth century. Employing his extensive letters, articles, unpublished poetry and prose, and audio interviews in addition to his numerous published books, Smith uncovers a record of public concerns in American history ranging from the plight of workers in 1920s steel mills to sharecroppers’ struggles during the Depression to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Here on the Edge answers the growing interest in a long-neglected element of World War II history: the role of pacifism in what is often called “The Good War.” Steve McQuiddy shares the fascinating story of one conscientious objector camp located on the rain-soaked Oregon Coast, Civilian Public Service (CPS) Camp #56. As home to the Fine Arts Group at Waldport, the camp became a center of activity where artists and writers from across the country focused their work not so much on the current war, but on what kind of society might be possible when the shooting finally stopped.
They worked six days a week—planting trees, crushing rock, building roads, and fighting forest fires—in exchange for only room and board. At night, they published books under the imprint of the Untide Press. They produced plays, art, and music—all during their limited non-work hours, with little money and few resources. This influential group included poet William Everson, later known as Brother Antoninus, “the Beat Friar”; violinist Broadus Erle, founder of the New Music Quartet; fine arts printer Adrian Wilson; Kermit Sheets, co-founder of San Francisco’s Interplayers theater group; architect Kemper Nomland, Jr.; and internationally renowned sculptor Clayton James.
After the war, camp members went on to participate in the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance of the 1950s, which heavily influenced the Beat Generation of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Gary Snyder—who in turn inspired Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, leading the way to the 1960s upheavals epitomized by San Francisco’s Summer of Love.
As camp members engaged in creative acts, they were plowing ground for the next generation, when a new set of young people, facing a war of their own in Vietnam, would populate the massive peace movements of the 1960s.
Twenty years in the making and packed with original research, Here on the Edge is the definitive history of the Fine Arts Group at Waldport, documenting how their actions resonated far beyond the borders of the camp. It will appeal to readers interested in peace studies, World War II history, influences on the 1960s generation, and in the rich social and cultural history of the West Coast.
Despite their self-presentation as iconoclasts, the writers of the Beat Generation were deeply engaged with the classical tradition. Many of them were university-trained and highly conscious of their literary forebears, and they frequently incorporated their knowledge of Greco-Roman literature into their own subversive, experimental practice. Seeking to transcend the superficiality, commercialism, and precariousness of life in post–World War II America, the Beat writers found in their classical models both a venerable literary heritage and a discourse of sublimity through which to articulate their desire for purity.
In this volume, a diverse group of contributors explore for the first time the fascinating tensions and paradoxes that arose from interactions between these avant-garde writers and a literary tradition often seen as conservative and culturally hegemonic. With essays that cover the canonical Beat authors—such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs—along with less well-known figures—including Kenneth Rexroth, Ed Sanders, and Diane di Prima—Hip Sublime: Beat Writers and the Classical Tradition brings long overdue attention to the Beat movement’s formative appropriation of the Greek and Latin classics.
Clair Bee (1896-1983) was a hugely successful basketball coach at Rider College and Long Island University with a 412 and 87 record before his career was derailed in 1951 by a point-shaving scandal. In the trial that sent his star player, Sherman White, to prison, the judge excoriated Bee for creating a morally lax culture that contributed to his players' involvement with gambling. To a certain extent, Bee agreed with the judge's scolding, concluding that coaches, himself included, had become so driven to succeed on the court that they had lost sight of the educational role sports should play. His coaching career effectively over, Bee launched an effort to reform the ills he saw in college sports, and he did so in the pages of the Chip Hilton novels for young readers. He began the series in 1948, but it was the post-scandal books that he used as teaching tools. The books mirrored some of the events of the gambling scandal and were Bee's attempt to reform the problems plaguing college sports. He used his fiction to posit a better sports world that he hoped his young readers would construct and inhabit. The Chip Hilton books were extremely popular and have become a classic series, with over two million copies sold to date. Hoop Crazy is the fascinating story of Clair Bee and his star character Chip Hilton and the ways in which their lives, real and fictional, were intertwined.
This literary survey from a third-generation Montanan includes a thoughtful discussion on the now infamous events of the mid- to late-nineties. The rich literary tradition of Montana, contends author Ken Egan Jr., reflects a catastrophic vision of the West that shows the "horrors of domination" and "the foolish and destructive habits of the imperial heart." Since the 1860s, Montana’s writers have depicted struggles for survival in the state’s dramatic landscape, and for decency in a region characterized by the headlong exploitation of both natural and human resources.