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Volume 54, Spring

 

 

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The Spring 2016 issue of the Mark Twain Journal recognizes Henry Sweets of Hannibal, Missouri as a �Legacy Director and Curator,� fifth in the series of Legacy awards. During thirty-eight years of affiliation with the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, Henry Sweets has overseen the development of that historic site into a steadily enlarging district that replicates the riverfront era of the 1840s, recreates the family circle and social milieu that produced a great author, and acknowledges the antebellum crime of human slavery.

Kevin Mac Donnell favors the journal with another of his ingenious pieces of scholarship�this one exploring a deadly incident in 1893 in which some headstrong teenagers supposedly modeled their horseplay on Tom Sawyer�s gang and its pranks.

Now that Mark Twain�s Autobiography is fully in print, more than a century after its author dictated the last installment, Joshua R. Galat examines its notable mode of narration and reaches illuminating conclusions.

Jeremy Leatham provides a detailed account of the jocular activities in 1864 of a mock legislative body in Nevada known as the Third House. Mark Twain was a prominent member of this group that flirted with political danger in parodying the speeches delivered and the laws passed in the Nevada Territory Legislature.

An intriguing explanation for why Tom Sawyer repeatedly insists in the Evasion episode at the end of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that Jim�s liberation must take �thirty-seven years� is offered by James W. Clark, Jr.�s �Abraham Lincoln at the Phelps Farm.�

The scoundrels who introduce themselves as the King and the Duke in that same novel perhaps owed something to two confidence men who scammed fourteenth-century Londoners. Liam Purdon points out that Twain might have encountered a record of their activities in historical records when he was doing research for The Prince and the Pauper.

Moncure Conway maintained a deep and lasting friendship with Clemens, and there is no gainsaying the fact that Conway�s books, especially his Autobiography, Memories and Experiences (1904), were an influence on Clemens. Dwayne Eutsey investigates the Clemens-Conway relationship and proposes that one particular work by Conway, Demonology and Devil-Lore (1879), plausibly played a role in shaping incidents and phrases in Twain�s No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger.

That Mark Twain read and reviewed George Washington Harris�s Sut Lovingood: Yarns Spun by a �Nat�ral Born Durn�d Fool" had long been known. However, Hamada Kassam convincingly locates precise echoes of Sut�s antics and language in Twain�s Huckleberry Finn.

John Lockwood, a Twain sleuth who conducts research in the Library of Congress and is becoming something of a regular contributor to MTJ, delivers up more of his discoveries that illuminate Mark Twain�s reliance on his surroundings for details in his writings.

Joseph Lemak, the new Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, now serves as the Executive Editor of the Mark Twain Journal. Nathaniel Ball, the new curator of the Mark Twain Archive at Elmira College, has become the Journal�s Consulting Editor. We are also grateful to Matthew Johnson for editorial assistance with this present issue.

As the Mark Twain Journal celebrates its eightieth year of continual publication, its third Editor marvels at the quality of the scholarship and the diversity of topics that find their way into our mailbox. We tend to publish approximately forty per cent of the manuscripts submitted; if we accepted all of the submissions that arrive for consideration, the Journal would have to return to its original 1936 format when it was known as the Mark Twain Quarterly and appeared twice as often. With the Summer 1954 issue it shifted to the present semiannual schedule and adopted a new title, the Mark Twain Journal. In 2016 it remains one of the oldest academic publications devoted to a single author.

 

 

Henry Sweets
MTJ Legacy Director and Curator

Link to MTJ visit to Hannibal to interview Henry Sweets: Hannibal

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