Twain in his
honorary Oxford regalia

Volume 53, Spring

 

 

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      Two feature articles in this issue deserve special notice by Mark Twain scholars and readers. KEVIN MAC DONNELL, who startled the scholarly community and attracted the attention of the larger book world with a convincing theory he proposed in the Mark Twain Journal (Volume 50) about the origins of Samuel Clemens�s decision to adopt his famous pen name, now brings forward a detailed study of an early romantic infatuation that Clemens experienced during his print shop days in Keokuk, Iowa. Mac Donnell�s usual thoroughness is everywhere evident in this detailed essay about a girl for whom Clemens showed off his verbal skills.

Just when most of us assumed that all of Clemens�s writings had finally been located and reprinted, the prominent scholar and editor GARY SCHARNHORST introduces three Nevada newspaper columns that bear Clemens�s unmistakable wit. Two of the columns joke about the kinds of chicanery that mining speculators often employed. Another one spars with a journalist friend. These 1862 pieces previously eluded those looking for additional examples of Clemens�s newspaper contributions before he adopted his permanent pseudonym. The irony in these columns is so deliciously clever that they constitute a welcome new corner in Twain�s works.

Additional articles in this Spring 2015 issue offer intriguing glimpses of other periods in Clemens�s multifaceted life. MICHAEL H. MARLEAU examines the little-understood months when Clemens tried to navigate the fast-closing ports along the Mississippi River in 1861. A note by JOHN LOCKWOOD documents some contextual facts about an intrepid English-language newspaper in Constantinople to which Mark Twain referred in The Innocents Abroad. DWAYNE EUTSEY corrects an error that has persisted about the date when Clemens first encountered Edward FitzGerald�s translation of the Rub�iy�t of Omar Khayy�m, a poem that became one of his literary favorites. An interview with BONNYECLAIRE SMITH-STEWART captures some of her research into the life of George Griffin, the Clemenses� much-admired African American butler during their Hartford years. Twain�s �The �1,000,000 Bank-Note� (1893) seldom receives the kind of attention that his ingenious short story merits, so the novelty of MICHAEL E. CAFFERKY�s business-oriented study of �the idea of building trust from nothing� calls timely attention to moral situations that this tale explores.

The Mark Twain Journal continues its �Legacy Scholar� series by honoring TOM QUIRK as the third person whose lifelong impact on Twain studies is celebrated. Gary Scharnhorst provides a friendly set of reminiscences about his association with this eminent yet humble commentator on Twain�s literary achievements.

 

 

Tom Quirk
Mark Twain Journal Legacy Scholar

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Sam Clemens piloted the Alonzo Child for the Confederacy.
(Courtesy of Michael H. Marleau)

 

Twain and Laura Hawkins, Stormfield, 1908
Did Samuel Clemens have another early sweetheart?

(Courtesy of Kevin Mac Donnell)

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