Roy Morris Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS1334.M67 2015 | Dewey Decimal 818.409
Unintimidated by Old World sophistication or travel to undeveloped parts of the globe, Mark Twain spent a surprising amount of time outside the continental United States. Roy Morris, Jr. focuses on the dozen years he lived overseas and the books he wrote encouraging middle-class Americans to follow him around the world, at the dawn of mass tourism.
Why hasn’t democracy been embraced worldwide as the best form of government?
Aesthetic critics of democracy such as Carlyle and Nietzsche have argued that modern democracy, by removing the hierarchical institutions that once elevated society’s character, turns citizens into bland, mediocre souls. Joel A. Johnson now offers a rebuttal to these critics, drawing surprising inspiration from American literary classics.
Addressing the question from a new perspective, Johnson takes a fresh look at the worth of liberal democracy in these uncertain times and tackles head-on the thorny question of cultural development. Examining the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, and William Dean Howells, he shows that through their fiction we can gain a better appreciation of the rich detail of everyday life, making the debate relevant to contemporary discussions of liberal democracy.
Johnson focuses on an issue that liberals have inadequately addressed: whether people tend to develop fully as individuals under liberal democracy when such a regime does little formally to encourage their development. He argues that, though the liberal fear of state-guided culture is well founded, it should not prevent us from evaluating liberalism’s effect on individual flourishing. By extending the debate over the worthiness of liberal democracy to include democracy’s effect on individual development, he contends that the democratic experience is much fuller than the aristocratic one and thus expands the faculties of its citizens.
Critics of American democracy such as John Rawls have sought to transform it into a social or egalitarian democracy in the European style. Johnson shows that neither the debate between Rawls and his communitarian critics nor the ongoing discussion of the globalization of American values adequately addresses the fundamental critique of democratic culture advanced by the aesthetic critics. Johnson’s cogent analysis reaches out to those readers who are ready for a more comprehensive evaluation of liberal democracy, offering new insight into the relationship between the state and the individual while blazing new trails in the intersection of politics and literature.
This consequential book takes a hard, systematic look at the depiction of blacks, whites, and race relations in Mark Twain's classic novel, raising questions about its canonical status in American literature.
Huckleberry Finn, one of the most widely taught novels in American literature, has long been the subject of ongoing debates over issues ranging from immorality to racism. Here, Elaine Mensh and Harry Mensh enter the debate with a careful and thoughtful examination of racial messages imbedded in the tale of Huck and Jim.
Using as a gauge for analysis the historical record left by both slaves and slaveholders, the Menshes compare Twain's depiction with historical reality, attempting to determine where the book either undermines or upholds traditional racial attitudes. Surveying the opinions of fellow critics, they challenge the current consensus that Huckleberry Finn fosters rapport between blacks and whites, arguing that the book does not subvert ingrained beliefs about race, and demonstrating that the argument over black-white relations in the novel is also an argument over non-fictional racial relations and conflicting perceptions of racial harmony.
Reading the novel in its historical context, the Menshes conclude that Twain, in the character of Huck, never questions the institution of slavery, and even supports it in both thought and action. In response to student and parent challenges to the inclusion of the book in literature classes, they suggest that it should remain in school libraries but not be required reading.
Of importance to scholars of Mark Twain and American literature, African American cultural studies, or anyone interested in issues of literature and race, this book adds a strong voice to the long-ranging debate over Huckleberry Finn.
The United States has seldom known a period of greater social and cultural volatility, especially in terms of race relations, than the years from the end of Reconstruction to the First World War. In this highly original study, Susan Gillman explores the rise during this period of a remarkable genre—the race melodrama—and the way in which it converged with literary trends, popular history, fringe movements, and mainstream interest in supernatural phenomena.
Blood Talk shows how race melodrama emerged from abolitionist works such as Uncle Tom's Cabin and surprisingly manifested itself in a set of more aesthetically and politically varied works, such as historical romances, sentimental novels, the travel literature of Mark Twain, the regional fiction of Kate Chopin and George Washington Cable, and the work of W. E. B. Du Bois. Gillman then uses the race melodrama to show how racial discourses in the United States have been entangled with occultist phenomena, from the rituals of the Ku Klux Klan and the concept of messianic second-sight to the production of conspiracy theories and studies of dreams and trances.
In this first book on No. 44 in thirty years, thirteen especially commissioned essays by some of today’s most accomplished Twain scholars cover an array of topics, from domesticity and transnationalism to race and religion, and reflect a variety of scholarly and theoretical approaches to the work. This far-reaching collection considers the status of No. 44 within Twain’s oeuvre as they offer cogent insights into such broad topics as cross-culturalism, pain and redemption, philosophical paradox, and comparative studies of the “Mysterious Stranger” manuscripts.
All of these essays attest to the importance of this late work in Twain’s canon, whether considering how Twain’s efforts at truth-telling are premeditated and shaped by his own experiences, tracing the biblical and religious influences that resonate in No. 44, or exploring the text’s psychological dimensions. Several address its importance as a culminating work in which Twain’s seemingly disjointed story lines coalesce in meaningful, albeit not always satisfactory, ways. An afterword by Alan Gribben traces the critical history of the “Mysterious Stranger” manuscripts and the contributions of previous critics. A wide-ranging critical introduction and a comprehensive bibliography on the last century of scholarship bracket the contributions.
Close inspection of this multidimensional novel shows how Twain evolved as a self-conscious thinker and humorist—and that he was a more conscious artist throughout his career than has been previously thought. Centenary Reflections deepens our understanding of one of Twain’s most misunderstood texts, confirming that the author of No. 44 was a pursuer of an elusive truth that was often as mysterious a stranger as Twain himself.
Confederate Bushwhacker is a microbiography set in the most important and pivotal year in the life of its subject. In 1885, Mark Twain was at the peak of his career as an author and a businessman, as his own publishing firm brought out not only the U.S. edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but also the triumphantly successful Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant. Twenty years after the end of the Civil War, Twain finally tells the story of his past as a deserter from the losing side, while simultaneously befriending and publishing the general from the winning side. Coincidentally, the year also marks the beginning of Twain’s descent into misfortune, his transformation from a humorist into a pessimist and determinist. Interwoven throughout this portrait are the headlines and crises of 1885—black lynchings, Indian uprisings, anti-Chinese violence, labor unrest, and the death of Grant. The year was at once Twain’s annus mirabilis and the year of his undoing. The meticulous treatment of this single year by the esteemed biographer Jerome Loving enables him to look backward and forward to capture both Twain and the country at large in a time of crisis and transformation.
The thirteen essays in this collection combine to offer a complex and deeply nuanced picture of Samuel Clemens. With the purpose of straying from the usual notions of Clemens (most notably the Clemens/Twain split that has ruled Twain scholarship for over thirty years), the editors have assembled contributions from a wide range of Twain scholars. As a whole, the collection argues that it is time we approach Clemens not as a shadow behind the literary persona but as a complex and intricate creator of stories, a creator who is deeply embedded in the political events of his time and who used a mix of literary, social, and personal experience to fuel the movements of his pen.
The essays illuminate Clemens's connections with people and events not usually given the spotlight and introduce us to Clemens as a man deeply embroiled in the process of making literary gold out of everyday experiences. From Clemens's wonderings on race and identity to his looking to family and domesticity as defining experiences, from musings on the language that Clemens used so effectively to consideration of the images and processes of composition, these essays challenge long-held notions of why Clemens was so successful and so influential a writer. While that search itself is not new, the varied approaches within this collection highlight markedly inventive ways of reading the life and work of Samuel Clemens.
Edited by Ann M. Ryan and Joseph B. McCullough University of Missouri Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS1334.C67 2008 | Dewey Decimal 818.409
Cosmopolitan Twain takes seriously Mark Twain’s life as a citizen of urban landscapes: from the streets of New York City to the palaces of Vienna to the suburban utopia of Hartford. Traditional readings of Mark Twain orient his life and work by distinctly rural markers such as the Mississippi River, the Wild West, and small-town America; yet, as this collection shows, Twain’s sensibilities were equally formed in the urban centers of the world. These essays represent Twain both as a product of urban frontiers and as a prophet of American modernity, situating him squarely within the context of an evolving international and cosmopolitan community.
As Twain traveled and lived in these locales, he acquired languages, costumes, poses, and politics that made him one of the first truly cosmopolitan world citizens. Beginning with New York City—where Twain spent more of his life than in Hannibal—we learn that his early experiences there fed his fascination with racial identity and economic privilege. While in St. Louis and New Orleans, Twain developed a strategic detachment that became a part of his cosmopolitan persona. His contact with bohemian writers in San Francisco excited his ambitions to become more than a humorist, while sojourns in Buffalo and Hartford marked Twain’s uneasy accommodation to domesticity and cultural prominence. London finally liberated him from his narrowly constructed national identity, while Vienna allowed him to fully achieve his transnational voice. The volume ends by presenting Elmira, New York, as a complement, and something of a counterpart, to Twain’s cosmopolitan life, creating a domestic retreat from the pace and complexity of an increasingly urban, modern America.
In response to each of these cities, Twain generated writings that marked America’s movement into the twentieth century and toward the darker realities that made possible this cosmopolitan state. Cosmopolitan Twain presents Twain’s eventual descent into skepticism and despair not as a departure from his early values but rather as a dark awakening into the new terms of American identity, history, and moral authority. This collection reveals a writer who is decidedly less static than the iconic portrait that dominates popular culture. It offers a corrective to the familiar image of Twain as the nostalgic voice of America’s rural past, presenting Twain as a citizen of modernity and a visionary of a global and cosmopolitan future.
"Many persons have such a horror of being taken in," wrote P. T. Barnum, "that they believe themselves to be a sham and are continually humbugging themselves." Mark Twain enjoyed trading on that horror, as the many confidence men, assumed identities, and disguised characters in his fiction attest. In Dark Twins, Susan Gillman challenges the widely held assumption that Twain's concern with identity is purely biographical and argues that what has been regarded as a problem of individual psychology must be located instead within American society around the turn of the century. Drawing on Twain's whole writing career, but focusing on the controversial late period of social "pessimism" and literary "incoherence," Gillman situates Twain and his work in historical context, demonstrating the complex interplay between his most intimate personal and authorial identity and the public attitudes toward race, gender, and science.
Gillman shows that laws regulating race classification, paternity, and rape cases underwrite Twain's critical exploration of racial and sexual difference in the writings of the 1890s and after, most strikingly in the little-known manuscripts that Gillman calls the "tales of transvestism." The "pseudoscience" of spiritualism and the "science" of psychology provide the cultural vocabularies essential to Twain's fantasy and science fiction writings of his last two decades. Twain stands forth finally as a representative man, not only a child of his culture, but also as one implicated in a continuing American anxiety about freedom, race, and identity.
For more than a quarter-century, despite the admirable excavations that have unearthed such humorists as John Gorman Barr and Marcus Lafayette, the most significant of the humorists from the Old Southwest have remained the same: Crockett, Longstreet, Thompson, Baldwin, Thorpe, Hooper, Robb, Harris, and Lewis. Forming a kind of shadow canon in American literature that led to Mark Twain’s early work, from 1834 to 1867 these authors produced a body of writing that continues to reward attentive readers.
James H. Justus’s Fetching the Old Southwest examines this writing in the context of other discourses contemporaneous with it: travel books, local histories, memoirs, and sports manuals, as well as unpublished private forms such as personal correspondence, daybooks, and journals. Like most writing, humor is a product of its place and time, and the works studied herein are no exception. The antebellum humorists provide an important look into the social and economic conditions that were prevalent in the southern “new country,” a place that would, in time, become the Deep South.
Justus’s study focuses mainly on the humor from the area categorized in the federal censuses of the mid-nineteenth century as the Southwest: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and, eventually, Arkansas and Texas. Where it is pertinent, he also includes North Carolina and Missouri in this cultural map. Although some of these pieces may not precisely reflect their cultural setting, they are assuredly refractions of it.
While previous books about Old Southwest humor have focused on individual authors, Justus has produced the first critical study to encompass all of the humor from this time period. Teachers and students of literary history will appreciate the incredible range of documentation, both primary and secondary.
A revealing study of the connections between nineteenth-century technological fiction and American religious faith.
In Gears and God: Technocratic Fiction, Faith, and Empire in Mark Twain’s America, Nathaniel Williams analyzes the genre of technology-themed exploration novels—dime novel adventure stories featuring steam-powered and electrified robots, airships, and submersibles. This genre proliferated during the same cultural moment when evolutionary science was dismantling Americans’ prevailing, biblically based understanding of human history.
While their heyday occurred in the late 1800s, technocratic adventure novels like Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court inspired later fiction about science and technology. Similar to the science fiction plotlines of writers like Jules Verne and H. Rider Haggard, and anticipating the adventures of Tom Swift some decades later, these novels feature Americans using technology to visit and seize control of remote locales, a trait that has led many scholars to view them primarily as protoimperialist narratives. Their legacy, however, is more complicated. As they grew in popularity, such works became as concerned with the preservation of a fraught Anglo-Protestant American identity as they were with spreading that identity across the globe.
Many of these novels frequently assert the Bible’s authority as a historical source. Collectively, such stories popularized the notion that technology and travel might essentially “prove” the Bible’s veracity—a message that continues to be deployed in contemporary debates over intelligent design, the teaching of evolution in public schools, and in reality TV shows that seek historical evidence for biblical events. Williams argues that these fictions performed significant cultural work, and he consolidates evidence from the novels themselves, as well as news articles, sermons, and other sources of the era, outlining and mapping the development of technocratic fiction.
Huckleberry Finn dressing as a girl is a famously comic scene in Mark Twain’s novel but hardly out of character—for the author, that is. Twain “troubled gender” in much of his otherwise traditional fiction, depicting children whose sexual identities are switched at birth, tomboys, same-sex married couples, and even a male French painter who impersonates his own fictive sister and becomes engaged to another man.
This book explores Mark Twain’s extensive use of cross-dressing across his career by exposing the substantial cast of characters who masqueraded as members of the opposite sex or who otherwise defied gender expectations. Linda Morris grounds her study in an understanding of the era’s theatrical cross-dressing and changing mores and even events in the Clemens household. She examines and interprets Twain’s exploration of characters who transgress gendered conventions while tracing the degree to which themes of gender disruption interact with other themes, such as his critique of race, his concern with death in his classic “boys’ books,” and his career-long preoccupation with twins and twinning.
Approaching familiar texts in surprising new ways, Morris reexamines the relationship between Huck and Jim; discusses racial and gender crossing in Pudd’nhead Wilson; and sheds new light on Twain’s difficulty in depicting the most famous cross-dresser in history, Joan of Arc. She also considers a number of his later “transvestite tales” that feature transgressive figures such as Hellfire Hotchkiss, who is hampered by her “misplaced sex.”
Morris challenges views of Twain that see his work as reinforcing traditional notions of gender along sharply divided lines. She shows that Twain depicts cross-dressing sometimes as comic or absurd, other times as darkly tragic—but that even at his most playful, he contests traditional Victorian notions about the fixity of gender roles.
Analyzing such characteristics of Twain’s fiction as his fascination with details of clothing and the ever-present element of play, Morris shows us his understanding that gender, like race, is a social construction—and above all a performance. Gender Play in Mark Twain: Cross-Dressing and Transgression broadens our understanding of the writer as it lends rich insight into his works.
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.
Challenging the prevailing belief that Mark Twain’s position on religion hovered somewhere between skepticism and outright heresy, Lawrence Berkove and Joseph Csicsila marshal biographical details of Twain’s life alongside close readings of his work to explore the religious faith of America’s most beloved writer and humorist. They conclude not only that religion was an important factor in Twain’s life but also that the popular conception of Twain as agnostic, atheist, or apostate is simply wrong.
Heretical Fictions is the first full-length study to assess the importance of Twain’s heretical Calvinism as the foundation of his major works, bringing to light important thematic ties that connect the author’s early work to his high period and from there to his late work. Berkove and Csicsila set forth the main elements of Twain’s “countertheological” interpretation of Calvinism and analyze in detail the way it shapes five of his major books—Roughing It, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger—as well as some of his major short stories. The result is a ground-breaking and unconventional portrait of a seminal figure in American letters.
If racially offensive epithets are banned on CNN air time and in the pages of USA Today, Jonathan Arac asks, shouldn’t a fair hearing be given to those who protest their use in an eighth-grade classroom? Placing Mark Twain’s comic masterpiece, Huckleberry Finn, in the context of long-standing American debates about race and culture, Jonathan Arac has written a work of scholarship in the service of citizenship. Huckleberry Finn, Arac points out, is America’s most beloved book, assigned in schools more than any other work because it is considered both the “quintessential American novel” and “an important weapon against racism.” But when some parents, students, and teachers have condemned the book’s repeated use of the word “nigger,” their protests have been vehemently and often snidely countered by cultural authorities, whether in the universities or in the New York Times and the Washington Post. The paradoxical result, Arac contends, is to reinforce racist structures in our society and to make a sacred text of an important book that deserves thoughtful reading and criticism. Arac does not want to ban Huckleberry Finn, but to provide a context for fairer, fuller, and better-informed debates.
Arac shows how, as the Cold War began and the Civil Rights movement took hold, the American critics Lionel Trilling, Henry Nash Smith, and Leo Marx transformed the public image of Twain’s novel from a popular “boy’s book” to a central document of American culture. Huck’s feelings of brotherhood with the slave Jim, it was implied, represented all that was right and good in American culture and democracy. Drawing on writings by novelists, literary scholars, journalists, and historians, Arac revisits the era of the novel’s setting in the 1840s, the period in the 1880s when Twain wrote and published the book, and the post–World War II era, to refute many deeply entrenched assumptions about Huckleberry Finn and its place in cultural history, both nationally and globally. Encompassing discussion of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, Archie Bunker, James Baldwin, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, and Mark Fuhrman, Arac’s book is trenchant, lucid, and timely.
The Jester and the Sages approaches the life and work of Mark Twain by placing him in conversation with three eminent philosophers of his time—Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, and Karl Marx. Unprecedented in Twain scholarship, this interdisciplinary analysis by Forrest G. Robinson, Gabriel Noah Brahm Jr., and Catherine Carlstroem rescues the American genius from his role as funny-man by exploring how his reflections on religion, politics, philosophy, morality, and social issues overlap the philosophers’ developed thoughts on these subjects. Remarkably, they had much in common.
During their lifetimes, Twain, Nietzsche, Freud, and Marx witnessed massive upheavals in Western constructions of religion, morality, history, political economy, and human nature. The foundations of reality had been shaken, and one did not need to be a philosopher—nor did one even need to read philosophy—to weigh in on what this all might mean. Drawing on a wide range of primary and secondary materials, the authors show that Twain was well attuned to debates of the time. Unlike his Continental contemporaries, however, he was not as systematic in developing his views.
Brahm and Robinson’s chapter on Nietzsche and Twain reveals their subjects’ common defiance of the moral and religious truisms of their time. Both desired freedom, resented the constraints of Christian civilization, and saw punishing guilt as the disease of modern man. Pervasive moral evasion and bland conformity were the principal end result, they believed.
In addition to a continuing focus on guilt, Robinson discovers in his chapter on Freud and Twain that the two men shared a lifelong fascination with the mysteries of the human mind. From the formative influence of childhood and repression, to dreams and the unconscious, the mind could free people or keep them in perpetual chains. The realm of the unconscious was of special interest to both men as it pertained to the creation of art.
In the final chapter, Carlstroem and Robinson explain that, despite significant differences in their views of human nature, history, and progress, Twain and Marx were both profoundly disturbed by economic and social injustice in the world. Of particular concern was the gulf that industrial capitalism opened between the privileged elite property owners and the vast class of property-less workers. Moralists impatient with conventional morality, Twain and Marx wanted to free ordinary people from the illusions that enslaved them.
Twain did not know the work's of Nietzsche, Freud, and Marx well, yet many of his thoughts cross those of his philosophical contemporaries. By focusing on the deeper aspects of Twain’s intellectual makeup, Robinson, Brahm, and Carlstroem supplement the traditional appreciation of the forces that drove Twain’s creativity and the dynamics of his humor.
This book begins the first multi-volume biography of Samuel Clemens to appear in over a century. In the succeeding years, Clemens biographers have either tailored their narratives to fit the parameters of a single volume or focused on a particular period or aspect of Clemens’s life, because the whole of that epic life cannot be compressed into a single volume. In The Life of Mark Twain, Gary Scharnhorst has chosen to write a complete biography plotted from beginning to end, from a single point of view, on an expansive canvas.
With dozens of Mark Twain biographies available, what is left unsaid? On average, a hundred Clemens letters and a couple of Clemens interviews surface every year. Scharnhorst has located documents relevant to Clemens’s life in Missouri, along the Mississippi River, and in the West, including some which have been presumed lost. Over three volumes, Scharnhorst elucidates the life of arguably the greatest American writer and reveals the alchemy of his gifted imagination.
The second volume of Gary Scharnhorst’s three-volume biography chronicles the life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens between his move with his family from Buffalo to Elmira (and then Hartford) in spring 1871 and their departure from Hartford for Europe in mid-1891.
During this time he wrote and published some of his best-known works, including Roughing It, The Gilded Age, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Tramp Abroad, The Prince and the Pauper, Life on the Mississippi,Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
Significant events include his trips to England (1872–73) and Bermuda (1877); the controversy over his Whittier Birthday Speech in December 1877; his 1878–79 Wanderjahr on the continent; his 1882 tour of the Mississippi valley; his 1884–85 reading tour with George Washington Cable; his relationships with his publishers (Elisha Bliss, James R. Osgood, Andrew Chatto, and Charles L. Webster); the death of his son, Langdon, and the births and childhoods of his daughters Susy, Clara, and Jean; as well as the several lawsuits and personal feuds in which he was involved. During these years, too, Clemens expressed his views on racial and gender equality and turned to political mugwumpery; supported the presidential campaigns of Grover Cleveland; advocated for labor rights, international copyright, and revolution in Russia; founded his own publishing firm; and befriended former president Ulysses S. Grant, supervising the publication of Grant’s Memoirs.
The Life of Mark Twain is the first multi-volume biography of Samuel Clemens to appear in more than a century and has already been hailed as the definitive Twain biography.
How does one teach Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, a book as controversial as it is central to the American literary canon? This collection of essays edited by James S. Leonard offers practical classroom methods for instructors dealing with the racism, the casual violence, and the role of women, as well as with structural and thematic discrepancies in the works of Mark Twain. The essays in Making Mark Twain Work in the Classroom reaffirm the importance of Twain in the American literature curriculum from high school through graduate study. Addressing slavery and race, gender, class, religion, language and ebonics, Americanism, and textual issues of interest to instructors and their students, the contributors offer guidance derived from their own demographically diverse classroom experiences. Although some essays focus on such works as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and The Innocents Abroad, most discuss the hotly debated Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, viewed alternately in this volume as a comic masterpiece or as evidence of Twain’s growing pessimism—but always as an effective teaching tool. By placing Twain’s work within the context of nineteenth-century American literature and culture, Making Mark Twain Work in the Classroom will interest all instructors of American literature. It will also provoke debate among Americanists and those concerned with issues of race, class, and gender as they are represented in literature.
Contributors. Joseph A. Alvarez, Lawrence I. Berkove, Anthony J. Berret, S.J., Wesley Britton, Louis J. Budd, James E. Caron, Everett Carter, Jocelyn Chadwick-Joshua, Pascal Covici Jr., Beverly R. David, Victor Doyno, Dennis W. Eddings, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, S. D. Kapoor, Michael J. Kiskis, James S. Leonard, Victoria Thorpe Miller, Stan Poole, Tom Reigstad, David E. E. Sloane, David Tomlinson
Blending cultural history, biography, and literary criticism, this book explores how one of America's greatest icons used the French to help build a new sense of what it is to be “American” in the second half of the nineteenth century.
While critics have generally dismissed Mark Twain’s relationship with France as hostile, Harrington and Jenn see Twain’s use of the French as a foil to help construct his identity as “the representative American.” Examining new materials that detail his Montmatre study, the carte de visite album, and a chronology of his visits to France, the book offers close readings of writings that have been largely ignored, such as The Innocents Adrift manuscript and the unpublished chapters of A Tramp Abroad, combining literary analysis, socio-historical context and biographical research.
Mark Twain once claimed that he could read human character as well as he could read the Mississippi River, and he studied his fellow humans with the same devoted attention. In both his fiction and his nonfiction, he was disposed to dramatize how the human creature acts in a given environment—and to understand why.
Now one of America’s preeminent Twain scholars takes a closer look at this icon’s abiding interest in his fellow creatures. In seeking to account for how Twain might have reasonably believed the things he said he believed, Tom Quirk has interwoven the author’s inner life with his writings to produce a meditation on how Twain’s understanding of human nature evolved and deepened, and to show that this was one of the central preoccupations of his life.
Quirk charts the ways in which this humorist and occasional philosopher contemplated the subject of human nature from early adulthood until the end of his life, revealing how his outlook changed over the years. His travels, his readings in history and science, his political and social commitments, and his own pragmatic testing of human nature in his writing contributed to Twain’s mature view of his kind. Quirk establishes the social and scientific contexts that clarify Twain’s thinking, and he considers not only Twain’s stated intentions about his purposes in his published works but also his ad hoc remarks about the human condition.
Viewing both major and minor works through the lens of Twain’s shifting attitude, Quirk provides refreshing new perspectives on the master’s oeuvre. He offers a detailed look at the travel writings, including The Innocents Abroad and Following the Equator, and the novels, including The Adventures ofTom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Pudd’nhead Wilson, as well as an important review of works from Twain’s last decade, including fantasies centering on man’s insignificance in Creation, works preoccupied with isolation—notably No. 44,The Mysterious Stranger and “Eve’s Diary”—and polemical writings such as What Is Man?
Comprising the well-seasoned reflections of a mature scholar, this persuasive and eminently readable study comes to terms with the life-shaping ideas and attitudes of one of America’s best-loved writers. Mark Twain and Human Nature offers readers a better understanding of Twain’s intellect as it enriches our understanding of his craft and his ineluctable humor.
Mark Twain has always been America’s spokesman, and his comments on a wide range of topics continue to be accurate, valid, and frequently amusing. His opinions on the medical field are no exception. While Twain’s works, including his popular novels about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, are rich in medical imagery and medical themes derived from his personal experiences, his interactions with the medical profession and his comments about health, illness, and physicians have largely been overlooked.
In Mark Twain and Medicine, K. Patrick Ober remedies this omission. The nineteenth century was a critical time in the development of American medicine, with much competition among the different systems of health care, both traditional and alternative. Not surprisingly, Mark Twain was right in the middle of it all. He experimented with many of the alternative care systems that were available in his day—in part because of his frustration with traditional medicine and in part because he hoped to find the “perfect” system that would bring health to his family.
Twain’s commentary provides a unique perspective on American medicine and the revolution in medical systems that he experienced firsthand. Ober explores Twain’s personal perspective in this area, as he expressed it in fiction, speeches, and letters. As a medical educator, Ober explains in sufficient detail and with clarity all medical and scientific terms, making this volume accessible to the general reader.
Ober demonstrates that many of Twain’s observations are still relevant to today’s health care issues, including the use of alternative or complementary medicine in dealing with illness, the utility of placebo therapies, and the role of hope in the healing process.
Twain’s evaluation of the medical practices of his era provides a fresh, humanistic, and personalized view of the dramatic changes that occurred in medicine through the nineteenth century and into the first decade of the twentieth. Twain scholars, general readers, and medical professionals will all find this unique look at his work appealing.
Mark Twain and Metaphor
John Bird University of Missouri Press, 2007 Library of Congress PS1341.B57 2007 | Dewey Decimal 818.409
Metaphor theory, observes John Bird, is like Mark Twain: both seem simple upon first introduction. Now, in the most complete study to date of Twain’s use of figurative language, a veteran Twain scholar tackles the core of his writing and explores it with theoretical approaches that have rarely been applied to Twain, providing new insights into how he imagined his world—and the singular ways in which he expressed himself.
From “The Jumping Frog” to the late dream narratives, Bird considers Twain’s metaphoric construction over his complete career and especially sheds new light on his central texts: Roughing It; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court; Pudd’nhead Wilson; and No. 44,The Mysterious Stranger. He reconsiders “Old Times on the Mississippi” as the most purely metaphorical of Twain’s writings, goes on to look at how Twain used metaphor and talked about it in a variety of works and genres, and even argues that Clemens’s pseudonym is not so much an alter ego as a metaphorized self.
By offering insight into how Twain handled figurative language during the composing process, Bird reveals not only hidden facets of his artistry but also new aspects of works that we think we know well—including some entirely new ideas regarding Huck Finn that draw on the recent discovery of the first half of the manuscript. In addition to dealing with issues currently central to Twain studies, such as race and gender, he also links metaphor to humor and dream theory to further illuminate topics central to his work.
More than a study of Twain’s language, the book delves into the psychological aspects of metaphor to reveal the writer’s attitudes and thoughts, showing how using metaphor as a guide to Twain reveals much about his composition process. Applying the insights of metaphor theorists such as Roman Jakobson and Colin M. Turbayne, Bird offers readers not only new insights into Twain but also an introduction to this interdisciplinary field.
In lively prose, Mark Twain and Metaphor provides a vital way to read Twain’s entire corpus, allowing readers to better appreciate his style, humor, and obsession with dreams. It opens new ground and makes old ground fresh again, offering ways to see and resee this essential American writer.
This groundbreaking volume explores the importance of economics and prosperity throughout Samuel Clemens’s writing and personal life.
Mark Twain and Money: Language, Capital, and Culture focuses on an overlooked feature of the story of one of America’s most celebrated writers. Investigating Samuel Clemens’s often conflicting but insightful views on the roles of money in American culture and identity, this collection of essays shows how his fascination with the complexity of nineteenth-century economics informs much of Mark Twain’s writing.
While most readers are familiar with Mark Twain the worldly wise writer, fewer are acquainted with Samuel Clemens the avid businessman. Throughout his life, he sought to strike it rich, whether mining for silver in Nevada, founding his own publishing company, or staking out ownership in the Paige typesetting machine. He was ever on the lookout for investment schemes and was intrigued by inventions, his own and those of others, that he imagined would net a windfall. Conventional wisdom has held that Clemens’s obsession with business and material wealth hindered his ability to write more and better books. However, this perspective fails to recognize how his interest in economics served as a rich source of inspiration for his literary creativity and is inseparable from his achievements as a writer. In fact, without this preoccupation with monetary success, Henry B. Wonham and Lawrence Howe argue, Twain’s writing would lack an important connection to a cornerstone of American culture.
The contributors to this volume examine a variety of topics, such as a Clemens family myth of vast landholdings, Clemens’s strategies for protecting the Mark Twain brand, his insights into rapidly evolving nineteenth-century financial practices, the persistence of patronage in the literary marketplace, the association of manhood and monetary success, Clemens’s attitude and actions toward poverty, his response to the pains of bankruptcy through writing, and the intersection of racial identity and economics in American culture. These illuminating essays show how pecuniary matters invigorate a wide range of Twain’s writing from The Gilded Age, Roughing It,The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, to later stories like “The £1,000,000 Banknote” and the Autobiography.
One became America’s greatest writer. The other died in obscurity and failure. As brothers, they shaped each other's lives and work.
In a compelling way, Philip Fanning traces the fraternal relationship of Orion and Samuel Clemens from its beginning in Hannibal, Missouri, in the 1830s to Orion's death in Iowa in 1897. He demonstrates that Orion's influence on the writer known as Mark Twain was profound, pervasive, and prolonged.
In some respects, Samuel defined himself against Orion's formidable background. It was Orion who became the chief financial and spiritual support of the Clemens family following the father's controversial death in 1847. It was Orion who led the way for his brother into printing, journalism, and mine speculation. And it was Orion who served as Sam's first real editor and literary mentor, recognizing and encouraging his younger brother's talents as a writer.
The two siblings had much in common, and they often appeared to be codependent, so much so that their attitudes veered sharply from mutual admiration to mutual disdain and rivalry. Whereas Orion was self-effacing, easygoing, humble, and adventurous in his politics and progressive in his views, Twain was often ill-tempered and antagonistic toward those around him and conservative in his outlook. He frequently portrayed his older brother in autobiographical writings and letters as a buffoon and a laughingstock.
Fanning—who drew upon extensive archival sources, unpublished letters between the two brothers, and the Mark Twain Papers at the University of California, Berkeley—charts these divergences in their characters and in their fortunes. As Twain rose to become a national celebrity and a financial success, Orion's finances and self-esteem disintegrated, and Twain's treatment of his brother became evermore harsh and mocking. Fanning's study stands as both a biography of a fractious fraternal relationship and a work of scholarship that highlights for the first time how significantly Orion Clemens influenced Twain's psychic and artistic economy.
In Mark Twain and the American West, Joseph Coulombe explores how Mark Twain deliberately manipulated contemporary conceptions of the American West to create and then modify a public image that eventually won worldwide fame. He establishes the central role of the western region in the development of a persona that not only helped redefine American manhood and literary celebrity in the late nineteenth century, but also produced some of the most complex and challenging writings in the American canon.
Coulombe sheds new light on previously underappreciated components of Twain’s distinctly western persona. Gathering evidence from contemporary newspapers, letters, literature, and advice manuals, Coulombe shows how Twain’s persona in the early 1860s as a hard-drinking, low-living straight-talker was an implicit response to western conventions of manhood. He then traces the author’s movement toward a more sophisticated public image, arguing that Twain characterized language and authorship in the same manner that he described western men: direct, bold, physical, even violent. In this way, Twain capitalized upon common images of the West to create himself as a new sort of western outlaw—one who wrote.
Coulombe outlines Twain’s struggle to find the proper balance between changing cultural attitudes toward male respectability and rebellion and his own shifting perceptions of the East and the West. Focusing on the tension between these goals, Coulombe explores Twain’s emergence as the moneyed and masculine man-of-letters, his treatment of American Indians in its relation to his depiction of Jim in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the enigmatic connection of Huck Finn to the natural world, and Twain’s profound influence on Willa Cather’s western novels.
Mark Twain and the American West is sure to generate new interest and discussion about Mark Twain and his influence. By understanding how conventions of the region, conceptions of money and class, and constructions of manhood intersect with the creation of Twain’s persona, Coulombe helps us better appreciate the writer’s lasting effect on American thought and literature through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.
The writer’s fascination with America’s spiritual and religious evolution in the 19th century.
Mark Twain is often pictured as a severe critic of religious piety, shaking his fist at God and mocking the devout. Such a view, however, is only partly correct. It ignores the social realities of Twain’s major period as a writer and his own spiritual interests: his participation in church activities, his socially progressive agenda, his reliance on religious themes in his major works, and his friendships with clergymen, especially his pastor and best friend, Joe Twichell. It also betrays a conception of religion that is more contemporary than that of the period in which he lived.
Harold K. Bush Jr. highlights Twain’s attractions to and engagements with the wide variety of religious phenomena of America in his lifetime, and how these matters affected his writings. Though Twain lived in an era of tremendous religious vigor, it was also a time of spiritual upheaval and crisis. The rise of biological and psychological sciences, the criticism of biblical texts as literary documents, the influx of world religions and immigrant communities, and the trauma of the Civil War all had dramatic effects on America’s religious life. At the same time mass urban revivalism, the ecumenical movement, Social Christianity, and occultic phenomena, like spiritualism and mind sciences, all rushed in to fill the voids. The rapid growth of agnosticism in the 1870s and 1880s is also clearly reflected in Twain’s life and writings. Thus Twain’s career reflects in an unusually resonant way the vast changes in American belief during his lifetime.
Bush’s study offers both a new and more complicated understanding of Twain and his literary output and serves as the cultural biography of an era.
Twain scholar Michael J. Kiskis opens this fascinating new exploration of Twain with the observation that most readers have no idea that Samuel Clemens was the father of four and that he lived through the deaths of three of his children as well as his wife. In Mark Twain at Home: How Family Shaped Twain’s Fiction, Kiskis persuasively argues that not only was Mark Twain not, as many believe, “antidomestic,” but rather that home and family were the muse and core message of his writing.
Mark Twain was the child of a loveless marriage and a homelife over which hovered the constant specter of violence. Informed by his difficult childhood, orthodox readings of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn frame these canonical literary figures as nostalgic—autobiographical fables of heroic individualists slipping the bonds of domestic life.
Kiskis, however, presents a wealth of biographical details about Samuel Clemens and his family that reinterpret Twain’s work as a robust affirmation of domestic spheres of life. Among Kiskis’s themes are that, as the nineteenth century witnessed high rates of orphanhood and childhood mortality, Clemens’s work often depicted unmoored children seeking not escape from home but rather seeking the redemption and safety available only in familial structures. Similarly, Mark Twain at Home demonstrates that, following the birth of his first daughter, Twain began to exhibit in his writing an anxiety with social ills, notably those that affected children.
In vigorous and accessible descriptions of Twain’s life as it became reflected in his prose, Kiskis offers a compelling and fresh understanding of this work of this iconic American author.
Mark Twain: God's Fool
Hamlin Hill University of Chicago Press, 2010 Library of Congress PS1331.H46 2010 | Dewey Decimal 818.409
After laughing their way through his classic and beloved depictions of nineteenth-century American life, few readers would suspect that Mark Twain’s last years were anything but happy and joyful. They would be wrong. Contrary to the myth perpetrated by his literary executors Twain ended his life as a frustrated writer plagued by paranoia. He suffered personal tragedies, got involved in questionable business ventures, and was a demanding and controlling father and husband. As Mark Twain: God’s Fool demonstrates, the difficult circumstances of Twain’s personal life make his humorous output all the more surprising and admirable.
“Ham[lin] Hill remains among the smartest, most honest, and most humane of Twain scholars—and . . . God’s Fool parades those qualities on every page.” Jeff Steinbrink, Franklin & Marshall College
“Fills a great, long-standing need for a thoroughly researched book about Mark Twain’s twilight years. . . . Splendidly, grippingly written and excellently documented. . . . Likely to be a standard work for as long as anyone can foresee.” Choice
Best known for his sharp wit and his portrayals of life along the banks of the Mississippi River, Mark Twain is indeed an American icon, and many scholars have examined how he and his work are perceived in the United States. In Mark Twain in Japan, however, Tsuyoshi Ishihara explores how Twain’s uniquely American work is viewed in a completely different culture.
Mark Twain in Japan addresses three principal areas. First, the author considers Japanese translations of Twain’s books, which have been overlooked by scholars but which have had a significant impact on the formation of the public image of Twain and his works in Japan. Second, he discusses the ways in which traditional and contemporary Japanese culture have transformed Twain’s originals and shaped Japanese adaptations. Finally, he uses the example of Twain in Japan as a vehicle to delve into the complexity of American cultural influences on other countries, challenging the simplistic one-way model of “cultural imperialism.” Ishihara builds on the recent work of other researchers who have examined such models of American cultural imperialism and found them wanting. The reality is that other countries sometimes show their autonomy by transforming, distorting, and rejecting aspects of American culture, and Ishihara explains how this is no less true in the case of Twain.
Featuring a wealth of information on how the Japanese have regarded Twain over time, this book offers both a history lesson on Japanese-American relations and a thorough analysis of the “Japanization” of Mark Twain, as Ishihara adds his voice to the growing international chorus of scholars who emphasize the global localization of American culture. While the book will naturally be of interest to Twain scholars, it also will appeal to other groups, particularly those interested in popular culture, Japanese culture, juvenile literature, film, animation, and globalization of American culture.
For Mark Twain, it was love at first landfall. Samuel Clemens first encountered the Bermuda Islands in 1867 on a return voyage from the Holy Land and found them much to his liking. One of the most isolated spots in the world, Bermuda offered the writer a refuge from his harried and sometimes sad existence on the mainland, and this island paradise called him back another seven times. Clemens found that Bermuda’s beauty, pace, weather, and company were just the medicine he needed, and its seafaring culture with few connections to the outside world appealed to his love of travel by water.
This book is the first comprehensive study of Clemens’s love affair with Bermuda, a vivid depiction of a celebrated author on recurring vacations. Donald Hoffmann has culled and clarified passages from Mark Twain’s travel pieces, letters, and unpublished autobiographical dictation—with cross-references to his fiction and infrequently cited short pieces—to create a little-known view of the author at leisure on his fantasy island.
Mark Twain in Paradise sheds light on both Clemens’s complex character and the topography and history of the islands. Hoffmann has plumbed the voluminous Mark Twain scholarship and Bermudian archives to faithfully re-create turn-of-the-century Bermuda, supplying historical and biographical background to give his narrative texture and depth. He offers insight into Bermuda’s natural environment, traditional stone houses, and romantic past, and he presents dozens of illustrations, both vintage and new, showing that much of what Mark Twain described can still be seen today.
Hoffmann also provides insight into the social circles Clemens moved in—and sometimes collected around himself. When visiting the islands, he rubbed shoulders with the likes of socialist Upton Sinclair and multimillionaire Henry H. Rogers; with Woodrow Wilson and his lover, socialite Mary Peck; as well as with the young girls to whom he enjoyed playing grandfather.
“You go to heaven if you want to,” Mark Twain wrote from Bermuda in 1910 during his long last visit. “I’d druther stay here.” And because much of what Clemens enjoyed in the islands is still available to experience today, visitors to Bermuda can now have America’s favorite author as their guide. Mark Twain in Paradise is an unexpected addition to the vast literature by and about Mark Twain and a work of travel literature unlike any other.
The common characterization of Mark Twain as an uneducated and improvisational writer took hold largely because of the novelist's own frequent claims about his writing practices. But using recently discovered evidence--Twain's marginal notes in books he consulted as he worked on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court--Joe Fulton argues for a reconsideration of scholarly views about Twain's writing process, showing that this great American author crafted his novels with careful research and calculated design.
Fulton analyzes Twain's voluminous marginalia in the copies of Macaulay's History of England, Carlyle's History of the French Revolution, and Lecky's History of the Rise of Rationalism and England in the Eighteenth Century available to Twain in the library of Quarry Farm, the New York farm where the novelist and his family routinely spent their summers. Comparing these marginal notes to entries in Twain's writing journal, the manuscript of Connecticut Yankee, and the book as published in 1889, Fulton establishes that Twain's research decisively influenced the novel. Fulton reveals Twain to be both the writer from experience he claimed to be and the careful craftsman that he attempted to downplay. By redefining Twain's aesthetic, Fulton reinvigorates current debates about what constitutes literary realism.
Fulton's transcriptions of the marginalia appear in an appendix; together with his analysis, they provide a valuable new resource for Twain scholars.
Whether he was taking us along for a journey down the Mississippi with a couple of runaways or delivering speeches on the importance of careful lying, Mark Twain had an innate ability to captivate readers and listeners alike with his trademark humor and sarcasm. Twain never lacked for material, either, as his strong opinions regarding most issues gave him countless opportunities to articulate his thoughts in the voice that only he could provide.
A frequent outlet for Twain’s wit was in letters to the editors of various newspapers and periodicals. Sharing his thoughts and opinions on topical issues ranging from national affairs to local social events, with swipes along the way at woman suffrage, potholes, literary piracy and other scams, slow mail delivery, police corruption, capital punishment, and the removal of Huck Finn from libraries, Twain never hesitated to speak his mind. And now thanks to Gary Scharnhorst, more than a hundred of these letters are available in one place for us to enjoy.
From his opinions on the execution of an intellectually brilliant murderer, to his scathing review of a bureau he perceived as “a pack of idiots” running on a currency of doughnuts, Twain’s pure, unbridled voice is evident throughout his letters. Mark Twain on Potholes and Politicsgives readers a chance to delve further than ever before into the musings of the most recognizable voice in American literature.
The great writer’s irascible wit shines in this comprehensive collection
Mark Twain: The Complete Interviews is an annotated and indexed scholarly edition of every known interview with Mark Twain. In these interviews that span his entire career, Twain discusses matters as varied as his lecture style, his writings, and his bankruptcy, while holding forth on such timeless issues as human nature, politics, war and peace, government corruption, humor, race relations, imperialism, international copyright, the elite, and his impressions of other writers.
These interviews are oral performances in their own right and a new basis for evaluating contemporary responses to Twain’s writings. The interviews are records of verbal conversations rather than texts written in Twain’s hand. Four interviews are new to scholarship; fewer than a fifth have ever been reprinted.
Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature
A scholar accompanies Twain on his journey around the world
In Mark Twain, the World, and Me: “Following the Equator,” Then and Now, Susan K. Harris follows Twain’s last lecture tour as he wound his way through the British Empire in 1895–1896. Deftly blending history, biography, literary criticism, reportage, and travel memoir, Harris gives readers a unique take on one of America’s most widely studied writers.
Structured as a series of interlocking essays written in the first person, this book draws on Twain’s insights into the histories and cultures of Australia, India, and South Africa and weaves them into timely reflections on the legacies of those countries today. Harris offers meditations on what Twain’s travels mean for her as a scholar, a white woman, a Jewish American, a wife, and a mother. By treating topics as varied as colonial rule, the clash between indigenous and settler communities, racial and sexual “inbetweenness,” and species decimation, Harris reveals how the world we know grew out of the colonial world Twain encountered. Her essays explore issues of identity that still trouble us today: respecting race and gender, preserving nature, honoring indigenous peoples, and respecting religious differences.
Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize for best manuscript in American Literature
With the publication of The Innocents Abroad (1869), Mark Twain embarked on a long and successful career as the 19th century's best-selling travel writer. Jeffrey Melton treats Twain's travel narratives in depth, and in the context of his contemporary travel writers and a burgeoning tourism culture. As Melton shows, Twain's five major travel narratives--The Innocents Abroad, Roughing It, Life on the Mississippi, A Tramp Abroad, and Following the Equator--demonstrate Twain's mastery and reinvention of the genre.
Before Mark Twain became a national celebrity with his best-selling The Innocents Abroad, he was just another struggling writer perfecting his craft—but already “playin’ hell” with the world. In the first book in more than fifty years to examine the initial phase of Samuel Clemens’s writing career, James Caron draws on contemporary scholarship and his own careful readings to offer a fresh and comprehensive perspective on those early years—and to challenge many long-standing views of Mark Twain’s place in the tradition of American humor.
Tracing the arc of Clemens’s career from self-described “unsanctified newspaper reporter” to national author between 1862 and 1867, Caron reexamines the early and largely neglected writings—especially the travel letters from Hawaii and the letters chronicling Clemens’s trip from California to New York City. Caron connects those sets of letters with comic materials Clemens had already published, drawing on all known items from this first phase of his career—even the virtually forgotten pieces from the San Francisco Morning Call in 1864—to reveal how Mark Twain’s humor was shaped by the sociocultural context and how it catered to his audience’s sensibilities while unpredictably transgressing its standards.
Caron reveals how Sam Clemens’s contemporaries, notably Charles Webb, provided important comic models, and he shows how Clemens not only adjusted to but also challenged the guidelines of the newspapers and magazines for which he wrote, evolving as a comic writer who transmuted personal circumstances into literary art. Plumbing Mark Twain’s cultural significance, Caron draws on anthropological insights from Victor Turner and others to compare the performative aspects of Clemens’s early work to the role of ritual clowns in traditional societies
Brimming with fresh insights into such benchmarks as “Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands” and “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” this book is a gracefully written work that reflects both patient research and considered judgment to chart the development of an iconic American talent. Mark Twain, Unsanctified Newspaper Reporter should be required reading for all serious scholars of his work, as well as for anyone interested in the interplay between artistic creativity and the literary marketplace.
A century after Samuel Clemens’s death, Mark Twain thrives—his recently released autobiography topped bestseller lists. One way fans still celebrate the first true American writer and his work is by visiting any number of Mark Twain destinations. They believe they can learn something unique by visiting the places where he lived. Mark Twain’s Homes and Literary Tourism untangles the complicated ways that Clemens’s houses, now museums, have come to tell the stories that they do about Twain and, in the process, reminds us that the sites themselves are the products of multiple agendas and, in some cases, unpleasant histories.
Hilary Iris Lowe leads us through four Twain homes, beginning at the beginning—Florida, Missouri, where Clemens was born. Today the site is simply a concrete pedestal missing its bust, a plaque, and an otherwise-empty field. Though the original cabin where he was born likely no longer exists, Lowe treats us to an overview of the history of the area and the state park challenged with somehow marking this site. Next, we travel with Lowe to Hannibal, Missouri, Clemens’s childhood home, which he saw become a tourist destination in his own lifetime. Today mannequins remind visitors of the man that the boy who lived there became and the literature that grew out of his experiences in the house and little town on the Mississippi.
Hartford, Connecticut, boasts one of Clemens’s only surviving adulthood homes, the house where he spent his most productive years. Lowe describes the house’s construction, its sale when the high cost of living led the family to seek residence abroad, and its transformation into the museum. Lastly, we travel to Elmira, New York, where Clemens spent many summers with his family at Quarry Farm. His study is the only room at this destination open to the public, and yet, tourists follow in the footsteps of literary pilgrim Rudyard Kipling to see this small space.
Literary historic sites pin their authority on the promise of exclusive insight into authors and texts through firsthand experience. As tempting as it is to accept the authenticity of Clemens’s homes, Mark Twain’s Homes and Literary Tourism argues that house museums are not reliable critical texts but are instead carefully constructed spaces designed to satisfy visitors. This volume shows us how these houses’ portrayals of Clemens change frequently to accommodate and shape our own expectations of the author and his work.
Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography stands as the last of Twain’s great yarns. Here he tells his story in his own way, freely expressing his joys and sorrows, his affections and hatreds, his rages and reverence—ending, as always, tongue-in-cheek: “Now, then, that is the tale. Some of it is true.”
More than the story of a literary career, this memoir is anchored in the writer’s relation to his family—what they meant to him as a husband, father, and artist. It also brims with many of Twain’s best comic anecdotes about his rambunctious boyhood in Hannibal, his misadventures in the Nevada territory, his notorious Whittier birthday speech, his travels abroad, and more.
Twain published twenty-five “Chapters from My Autobiography” in the North American Review in 1906 and 1907. “I intend that this autobiography . . . shall be read and admired a good many centuries because of its form and method—form and method whereby the past and the present are constantly brought face to face, resulting in contrasts which newly fire up the interest all along, like contact of flint with steel.”
For this second edition, Michael Kiskis’s introduction references a wealth of critical work done on Twain since 1990. He also adds a discussion of literary domesticity, locating the autobiography within the history of Twain’s literary work and within Twain’s own understanding and experience of domestic concerns.
This collection seeks to place Pudd’nhead Wilson—a neglected, textually fragmented work of Mark Twain’s—in the context of contemporary critical approaches to literary studies. The editors’ introduction argues the virtues of using Pudd’nhead Wilson as a teaching text, a case study in many of the issues presently occupying literary criticism: issues of history and the uses of history, of canon formation, of textual problematics, and finally of race, class, and gender.
In a variety of ways the essays build arguments out of, not in spite of, the anomalies, inconsistencies, and dead ends in the text itself. Such wrinkles and gaps, the authors find, are the symptoms of an inconclusive, even evasive, but culturally illuminating struggle to confront and resolve difficult questions bearing on race and sex. Such fresh, intellectually enriching perspectives on the novel arise directly from the broad-based interdisciplinary foundations provided by the participating scholars. Drawing on a wide variety of critical methodologies, the essays place the novel in ways that illuminate the world in which it was produced and that further promise to stimulate further study.
Contributors. Michael Cowan, James M. Cox, Susan Gillman, Myra Jehlen, Wilson Carey McWilliams, George E. Marcus, Carolyn Porter, Forrest Robinson, Michael Rogin, John Carlos Rowe, John Schaar, Eric Sundquist
Readers of Mark Twain seldom doubt his genius, but defining that genius and locating its source continue to challenge students of American literature. Equally elusive is an explanation of the intriguing phenomenon of Twain as a mythic figure, both shaper and embodier of an American mythos. Perhaps no single critical approach can adequately assess the complex force behind Samuel Clemens and Mark Twain. This native genius, our quintessential artist, rightfully provokes a number of powerful responses, as these original essays demonstrate.
From 1929 to the latest issue, American Literature has been the foremost journal expressing the findings of those who study our national literature. American Literature has published the best work of literary historians, critics, and bibliographers, ranging from the founders of discipline to the best current critics and researchers. The longevity of this excellence lends a special distinction to the articles in American Literature. Presented in order of their first appearance, the articles in each volume constitute a revealing record of developing insights and important shifts of critical emphasis. Each article has opened a fresh line of inquiry, established a fresh perspective on a familiar topic, or settled a question that engaged the interest of experts.
In Persona and Humor in Mark Twain's Early Writings, Don Florence explains that Samuel Clemens did more than use the borrowed name of Mark Twain to sign his writings. He also developed a separate identity, or persona, becoming "a literary personality in his own right."
Challenging mainstream Twain criticism on many fronts, Florence focuses exclusively on Twain's early writings. He demonstrates how Twain evolved in his early narratives into the "Mark Twain" we now recognize. Florence maintains that this process was evolutionary: Although Twain might have been dependent on Clemens for the initial experiences, they become Twain's experiences, necessary for his development as a persona. Traditionally, critics of Twain have been preoccupied with dualities, but Florence sees this emphasis upon polarities as an oversimplification. He argues that much of Twain's humor strives to shape more and more of the world, giving Twain multiple narrative voices and letting him be inclusive, not exclusive.
Finally, this study asserts that there is more continuity to Mark Twain's career than has been generally recognized. Many Twain scholars have argued that Twain's later writings are radically different from his earlier writings because of their emphasis upon illusion and dream. Florence argues that the preoccupation with illusion and fantasy is scarcely new. Whether Twain's mood is exuberant or dark, he emphasizes subjectivity over objectivity, the dominance of fantasy, the creative powers of humor, and his ability as persona to determine what we consider "reality." Florence contends that Twain's early writings show Mark Twain gradually evolving into a masterfully comic persona.
Jargon-free and eloquently written, Persona and Humor in Mark Twain's Early Writings provides a fascinating look at Mark Twain's developing genius and will be a welcome addition to Twain literature.
Photography has transformed the way we picture ourselves. Although photographs seem to "prove" our existence at a given point in time, they also demonstrate the impossibility of framing our multiple and fragmented selves. As Linda Haverty Rugg convincingly shows, photography's double take on self-image mirrors the concerns of autobiographers, who see the self as simultaneously divided (in observing/being) and unified by the autobiographical act.
Rugg tracks photography's impact on the formation of self-image through the study of four literary autobiographers concerned with the transformative power of photography. Obsessed with self-image, Mark Twain and August Strindberg both attempted (unsuccessfully) to integrate photographs into their autobiographies. While Twain encouraged photographers, he was wary of fakery and kept a fierce watch on the distribution of his photographic image. Strindberg, believing that photographs had occult power, preferred to photograph himself.
Because of their experiences under National Socialism, Walter Benjamin and Christa Wolf feared the dangerously objectifying power of photographs and omitted them from their autobiographical writings. Yet Benjamin used them in his photographic conception of history, which had its testing ground in his often-ignored Berliner Kindheit um 1900. And Christa Wolf's narrator in Patterns of Childhood attempts to reclaim her childhood from the Nazis by reconstructing mental images of lost family photographs.
Confronted with multiple and conflicting images of themselves, all four of these writers are torn between the knowledge that texts, photographs, and indeed selves are haunted by undecidability and the desire for the returned glance of a single self.
Mark Twain Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS1317.A1 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.4
The unsolved riddle at the heart of Pudd’nhead Wilson is less the identity of the murderer than the question of whether nature or nurture makes the man. In his introduction, Werner Sollors illuminates the complex web of uncertainty that is the switched-and-doubled-identity world of Mark Twain’s novel.
The raft that carries Huck and Jim down the Mississippi River is often seen as a symbol of adventure and freedom, but the physical specifics of the raft itself are rarely considered. Peter Beidler shows that understanding the material world of Huckleberry Finn, its limitations and possibilities, is vital to truly understanding Mark Twain’s novel. He illustrates how experts on Twain’s works have misinterpreted important aspects of the story due to their unfamiliarity with the various rivercraft that figure in the book.
Huck and Jim’s little raft is not made of logs, as it is often depicted in illustrations, but of sawn planks, and it was originally part of a much larger raft. Beidler explains why this matters and describes the other rivercraft that appear in the book. He gives what will almost certainly be the last word on the vexed question of whether the lengthy “raft episode,” removed at the publisher’s suggestion from the novel, should be restored to its original place.
“I was made in His image,” Mark Twain once said, “but have never been mistaken for Him.” God may have made Mark Twain in His image, but Twain frequently remade himself by adopting divine personae as part of his literary burlesque. Readers were delighted, rather than fooled, when Twain adopted the image of religious vocation throughout his writing career: Theologian, Missionary, Priest, Preacher, Prophet, Saint, Brother Twain, Holy Samuel, the Bishop of New Jersey, and of course, the Reverend Mark Twain. Joe B. Fulton has not written a study of Samuel Langhorne Clemens’s religious beliefs, but rather one about Twain’s use of theological form and content in a number of his works—some well-known, others not so widely read.
Twain adopted such religious personae to burlesque the religious literary genres associated with those vocations. He wrote catechisms, prophecies, psalms, and creeds, all in the theological tradition, but with a comic twist. Twain even wrote a burlesque life of Christ that has the son of God sporting blue jeans and cowboy boots. With his distinctive comic genius, Twain entered the religious dialogue of his time, employing the genres of belief as his vehicle for criticizing church and society.
Twain’s burlesques of religious form and content reveal a writer fully engaged with the religious ferment of his day. Works like The Innocents Abroad, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Roughing It, and What Is Man? are the productions of a writer skilled at adopting and adapting established literary and religious forms for his own purposes. Twain is sometimes viewed as a haphazard writer, but in The Reverend Mark Twain, Fulton demonstrates how carefully Twain studied established literary and theological genres to entertain—and criticize—his society.
Though one of America’s best known and loved novels, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has often been the object of fierce controversy because of its racist language and reliance on racial stereotypes. This collection of fifteen essays by prominent African American scholars and critics examines the novel’s racist elements and assesses the degree to which Twain’s ironies succeed or fail to turn those elements into a satirical attack on racism. Ranging from the laudatory to the openly hostile, these essays include personal impressions of Huckleberry Finn, descriptions of classroom experience with the book, evaluations of its ironic and allegorical aspects, explorations of its nineteenth-century context, and appraisal of its effects on twentieth-century African American writers. Among the issues the authors contend with are Twain’s pervasive use of the word “nigger,” his portrayal of the slave Jim according to the conventions of the minstrel show “darky,” and the thematic chaos created by the “evasion” depicted in the novel’s final chapters. Sure to provoke thought and stir debate, Satire or Evasion? provides a variety of new perspectives on one of this country’s most troubling classics.
Contributors. Richard K. Barksdale, Bernard W. Bell, Mary Kemp Davis, Peaches M. Henry, Betty Harris Jones, Rhett S. Jones, Julius Lester, Donnarae MacCann, Charles H. Nichols, Charles H. Nilon, Arnold Rampersad, David L. Smith, Carmen Dubryan, John H. Wallace, Kenny Jackson Williams, Fredrick Woodard
Searching for Jim is the untold story of Sam Clemens and the world of slavery that produced him. Despite Clemens’s remarks to the contrary in his autobiography, slavery was very much a part of his life. Dempsey has uncovered a wealth of newspaper accounts and archival material revealing that Clemens’s life, from the ages of twelve to seventeen, was intertwined with the lives of the slaves around him.
During Sam’s earliest years, his father, John Marshall Clemens, had significant interaction with slaves. Newly discovered court records show the senior Clemens in his role as justice of the peace in Hannibal enforcing the slave ordinances. With the death of his father, young Sam was apprenticed to learn the printing and newspaper trade. It was in the newspaper that slaves were bought and sold, masters sought runaways, and life insurance was sold on slaves. Stories the young apprentice typeset helped Clemens learn to write in black dialect, a skill he would use throughout his writing, most notably in Huckleberry Finn.
Missourians at that time feared abolitionists across the border in Illinois and Iowa. Slave owners suspected every traveling salesman, itinerant preacher, or immigrant of being an abolition agent sent to steal slaves. This was the world in which Sam Clemens grew up. Dempsey also discusses the stories of Hannibal’s slaves: their treatment, condition, and escapes. He uncovers new information about the Underground Railroad, particularly about the role free blacks played in northeast Missouri.
Carefully reconstructed from letters, newspaper articles, sermons, speeches, books, and court records, Searching for Jim offers a new perspective on Clemens’s writings, especially regarding his use of race in the portrayal of individual characters, their attitudes, and worldviews. This fascinating volume will be valuable to anyone trying to measure the extent to which Clemens transcended the slave culture he lived in during his formative years and the struggles he later faced in dealing with race and guilt. It will forever alter the way we view Sam Clemens, Hannibal, and Mark Twain.
Inspired by the foreign policy entanglements of recent years, William V. Spanos offers a dramatic interpretation of Twain’s classic A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, providing a fresh assessment of American exceptionalism and the place of a global America in the American imaginary. Spanos insists that Twain identifies with his protagonist, particularly in his defining use of the spectacle, and thus with an American exceptionalism that uncannily anticipates the George W. Bush administration’s normalization of the state of exception and the imperial policy of “preemptive war,” unilateral “regime change,” and “shock and awe” tactics. Equally stimulating is Spanos’s thoroughly original ontology of American exceptionalism and imperialism and his tracing of these forces, through a chronological examination of Twain studies and criticism over the past century. As an examination of an overlooked text, and a critical history of American studies from its origins in the nation-oriented Myth and Symbol school of the Cold War era to its present globalizing or transnationalizing perspective, Shock and Awe will appeal to a broad audience of American literature scholars and beyond.
Updated versions of Mark Twain classic stories in the best tradition of comedic writing. All of the stories were originally penned by Mark Twain, including "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." The author is a contemporary American storyteller who has included notes for readers and re-tellers in addition to an introduction that comments on Mr. Twain and the era in which his stories were written.
Trites argues that Twain and Alcott wrote on similar topics because they were so deeply affected by the Civil War, by cataclysmic emotional and financial losses in their families, by their cultural immersion in the tenets of Protestant philosophy, and by sexual tensions that may have stimulated their interest in writing for adolescents, Trites demonstrates how the authors participated in a cultural dynamic that marked the changing nature of adolescence in America, provoking a literary sentiment that continues to inform young adult literature. Both intuited that the transitory nature of adolescence makes it ripe for expression about human potential for change and reform.
Samuel Clemens (1835–1910) repeatedly traversed the ocean during his globetrotting life. A keen observer, the man who recast himself as Mark Twain was fascinated by seafaring. This book compiles selections ranging from his first voyage in 1866—San Francisco to Hawaii—to his circumnavigation of the world by steamship 1897. Despite his background as a “brown water” mariner, Twain was out of his element on the ocean. His writings about being at sea (as well as feeling at sea) reflect both a growing familiarity with voyaging and an enduring sense of amazement. Twain’s shipboard observations capture his interest and amusement in the “blue water” mariners he encountered, with their salty subculture and individual quirks. Twain at Sea collects the author’s essays and travelogues on the maritime world in one volume, including excerpts from Roughing It, The Innocents Abroad, A Tramp Abroad, Following the Equator, and other sources.
Never one to suffer fools gladly, especially if they wore crinolines, Mark Twain lost as many friends as he made, and he targeted them all indiscriminately. The first major American writer born west of the Mississippi River, he enjoys a reputation unrivaled in American literary history, and from the beginning of his career he tried to control that reputation by fiercely protecting his public persona. Not a debunking account of Twain’s life but refreshingly immune from his relentless image making, Gary Scharnhorst’s Twain in His Own Time offers an anecdotal version of Twain’s life over which the master spin-doctor had virtually no control.
The ninety-four recollections gathered in Twain in His Own Time form an unsanitized, collaborative biography designed to provide a multitude of perspectives on the iconic author. Opening with an interview with his mother that has never been reprinted, it includes memoirs by his daughters and by men who knew him when he was roughing it in Nevada and California, an interview with the pilot who taught him to navigate the Mississippi River, reminiscences from his illustrators E. M. Kemble and Dan Beard and two of his so-called adolescent angelfish, contributions from politicians and from such literary figures as Dan De Quille and George Bernard Shaw, and one of the most damning assessments of his character—by the author Frank Harris—ever published.
Each entry is introduced by a brief explanation of its historical and cultural context; explanatory notes provide further information about people and places; and Scharnhorst’s introduction and chronology of Twain’s eventful life are comprehensive and detailed. Dozens of lively primary sources published incrementally over more than eighty years, most recorded after his death, illustrate the complexities of this flamboyant, outspoken personality in a way that no single biographer could.