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       This current issue honors KEVIN MAC DONNELL, a truly extraordinary figure in Mark Twain studies. There has been never been someone like Mac Donnell in our field of scholarship—or, for that matter, probably in any area of American literature. He wears four hats—all Texas-size—as collector, bookseller, scholar, and Travis county activist. Diligence and aptitude enabled him eventually to dominate the collecting world where Mark Twain was concerned, and he is continually adding to his vast holdings of first editions, association copies, manuscripts, and ephemera. MAC DONNELL and R. Kent Rasmussen recently co-chaired a Quarry Farm Symposium, "Mark Twain and Youth."

Our lead article by MARK NIEMEYER analyzes Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a book that redefined our national identity after the Civil War. The phrase “Reassurance of Fratricide” in Niemeyer’s title derives from Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (2006).

A Teacher of the Year award winner, HUGH H. DAVIS, recounts how he decided to experiment with teaching an edition of Huckleberry Finn that omits the n-word in his high school class in Winton, North Carolina. Davis traces his experiences with Twain’s novel during a teaching career that has included rural public and metropolitan private schools.

Veteran teacher JOHN R. PASCAL, winner of the Salvatore N. Caprio Award, persuaded his administrators to allow him to instruct a year-long course in Mark Twain at Seton Hall Preparatory School in New Jersey. Pascal kept a detailed record of his students’ growth in their writing skills and their appreciation of Twain. They were treated to visits to the Mark Twain House and Museum and a performance by the eminent Twain impersonator Hal Holbrook.

Independent historian DEBORAH A. LEE looks more deeply into the backgrounds of Mary Ann Cord and John T. Lewis, two African Americans whom Twain came to know well at Quarry Farm in Elmira, New York. Lee connects the dots of these relationships that helped Twain portray African Americans more knowledgably and sympathetically.

MICHAEL H. MARLEAU, a student of Twain’s Mississippi River years, speculates that Twain was the “SAM” who contributed a letter about low water river conditions to a Missouri newspaper. Marleau explains the difficulties that steamboats had in 1860 when the water levels were the lowest in memory.

Brief mentions include ROBERT STEWART’s what-if note about Orion Clemens’s preference for a consular post in Germany instead of being assigned to the Nevada Territory. The editor and managing editor of the Mark Twain Journal visited the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, our editorial address, to meet the new director, archivist, and professor of American Literature and Mark Twain Studies. We found that they bring impressive energy and acumen to their offices. They were in the midst of preparing for the October 7th and 8th “Mark Twain and Youth” symposium.

BARBARA SCHMIDT’s latest update for her memorial roster notifies us of the passing of scholars who enlarged our understanding of Twain’s works. Previous memorial rosters appeared in Volume 49 (2010) and Volume 51 (2013). Four books receive notices in the “Books Received” section.

This eightieth anniversary issue of the Mark Twain Journal adds a subtitle—The Author and His Era—to reflect the fact that from its beginning in 1936 this periodical has published many dozens of essays about Mark Twain’s contemporaries. Our new subtitle is intended to encourage the submission of even more studies of the men and women who knew Twain or who were prominent during his age.

In response to readers’ requests, the Mark Twain Journal has added a Mark Twain Journal FACEBOOK page.

 

Kevin Mac Donnell
Legacy Collector and Scholar


 

Niemeyer's essay is about
Huck and Jim.


 

Hugh H. Davis
teaching Huckleberry Finn


 

Pascal's students at
Mark Twain House and Museum


 

Twain and Lewis
at Quarry Farm, 1903

 

The Mississippi River
at low water levels




 

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