Constructing Mark Twain: New Directions in Scholarship

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Overview

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826213778
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Series: MARK TWAIN & HIS CIRCLE Series
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editors

Laura E. Skandera Trombley is Vice President for Academic Affairs at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She is the author of numerous books, including Mark Twain in the Company of Women.

Michael J. Kiskis is Professor of American Literature at Elmira College in New York. He is the editor of Mark Twain's Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the "North American Review."

The Mark Twain and His Circle Series, edited by Tom Quirk and John Bird

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Mark Twain and the Tradition of Literary Domesticity 13
Samuel Clemens as Family Man and Father 28
"To his preferred friends he revealed his true character": Mary Mason Fairbanks's Disguised Debate with Sam Clemens 50
Mark Twain's Mechanical Marvels 72
Steamboats, Cocaine, and Paper Money: Mark Twain Rewriting Himself 87
Mark Twain, Isabel Lyon, and the "Talking Cure": Negotiating Nostalgia and Nihilism in the Autobiography 101
The Minstrel and the Detective: The Functions of Ethnic Caricature in Mark Twain's Writings of the 1890s 122
Huck, Jim, and the "Black-and-White" Fallacy 139
Humor, Sentimentality, and Mark Twain's Black Characters 151
Black Genes and White Lies: Twain and the Romance of Race 169
Mark Twain in Large and Small: The Infinite and the Infinitesimal in Twain's Late Writing 191
Mark Twain Studies and the Myth of Metaphor 203
"Who Killed Mark Twain?" Long Live Samuel Clemens! 218
Works Cited 227
Contributors 239
Index 243
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