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Volume 58, Fall

Mark Twain's Hartford House

 

 

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     Feature


     47-Quaker City

     48-Hannibal

     49-Profanity

     50-Pen Name

     51-Charlie Webster

     52.1-Italian Villas

     52.2-Tesla

     53.1-Sweetheart

     53.2-Mississippi River

     54.1-MT Kills

     54.2-Mac Donnell

     55-Film Homage

     56.1-Paine

     56.2-Legacy Directors

     57.1-Huckleberry Finn, The Musical

     57.2-Clemens's Signature


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    Editor's Note

For this Fall 2020 issue the Mark Twain Journal commissioned two essays about the history behind a pair of institutions too often taken for granted. In the first article the knowledgeable Hartford authority STEVE COURTNEY examines the miraculous early efforts that preserved the former home of Samuel and Olivia Clemens, now known as the Mark Twain House and Museum. Courtney recounts the close calls with demolition this structure had as it was eyed by real estate developers, and the courage a few individuals displayed in asserting its literary and civic value. He also relates the stages by which the house and grounds were brought back to their once-glorious appearance.

The second commissioned piece, this one by TAYLOR ROBERTS, chronicles the inception and impact of the Internet discussion list known as the Mark Twain Forum. It is hard for many of us to recall the time three decades ago when this means of communicating with other people interested in Mark Twain's life and writings had yet to be launched, so interwoven with the study of Twain has it become. Taylor writes about challenges the Forum has confronted, and muses about its future as a medium of conversation among scholars and general readers.

TERRY OGGEL continues, in this issue of the Mark Twain Journal, his inquiries into the life and influence of Twain's designated biographer Albert Bigelow Paine. In "Paine Offers to Purify Duneka," Oggel gives our readers an inside glimpse of Paine's adversarial relationship with Frederick A. Duneka, a powerful executive and editor at Harper & Brothers, Twain's publisher. Their animosity rose to such a pitch that Paine made an obscene offer to Duneka. Cooler heads at Harper had to intervene thereafter.

K. PATRICK OBER, M.D., known for his astute studies of Twain's preoccupations with health and illness, looks at the efforts of the Society for the Suppression of Unnecessary Noise to enlist the name and reputation of Mark Twain in its campaign to dampen street noise outside hospitals as well as quiet the annual pandemonium of Fourth of July fireworks. Ober gives us a vivid impression of the bustling commotion of New York City in the first decade of the twentieth century by sampling the publications of the Society that corresponded with Twain about its noble purposes.

Twain's conflicted views about human slavery in the Southern states have been much analyzed, but MARGOT MCMILLEN emphasizes a new perspective--tangible indications that Jane Lampton Clemens and a few members of her family did not share her husband's allegiance to the cruel enslavement of African Americans. McMillan argues that the quiet opposition of Samuel Clemens's mother could have been a factor in the belated conversion that made him acceptable as a suitor for the daughter of the strongly abolitionist Langdons.

MICHAEL H. MARLEAU has written a series of notes and articles reminding us just how hazardous it was for Sam Clemens to be piloting steamboats in the mid-nineteenth century. Readers sometimes gloss over this chapter in the author's life by concentrating on Clemens's Hannibal years and Western adventures. Here Marleau explicates Clemens's near-fatal experience in 1856 when two steamboats tried to pass under a railroad bridge spanning the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Illinois.

R. KENT RASMUSSEN published Part 1 of "MGM's Huckleberry Finn Musical That Never Reached the Screen" in the Spring 2019 issue of the Mark Twain Journal (57.1). Research questions delayed its Part 2 sequel until now. One scarcely knows whether to laugh, cringe, or cry over the squandering of so much talent and money as a leading Hollywood studio clumsily tried to come to terms with Mark Twain's masterpiece.

Four books are reviewed in this Fall issue, including Mark Twain in Context, edited by JOHN BIRD.


 

Hal Holbrook was an early supporter of the restoration of the Mark Twain House in Hartford.










 

Taylor Roberts, founder, Mark Twain Forum.



 

Paine's first page of seven-page letter to Duneka



 

Julia Barnett Rice enlisted Mark Twain to suppress unnecessary noise.

 

Jane Clemens, left, and family



 

 

 

The Effie Afton struck the bridge and burned at the "Hellgate of the Mississippi."




 

Mock movie advertisement by R. Kent Rasmussen