Clemens's Life in Fiction
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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At Samuel Clemens’s funeral, as he looked for a last time at the face he had known so long and so well, William Dean Howells was struck by the ‘‘silent dignity’’ of his friend’s final ‘‘assent to what must be.’’ Clemens in death seemed to have achieved the surrender and repose that had so eluded him...
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1. Never Quite Sane in the Night
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I want to reflect at some length on the ways Samuel Langhorne Clemens thought about and represented his own life. The interest of the task is inseparable from its complexity, for my subject was fixed by a lifelong fascination with his myriad and finally ungraspable self, and with such kindred matters...
2. The General and the Maid
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In his Colors of the Mind: Conjectures on Thinking in Literature, Angus Fletcher makes the case for what he calls ‘‘noetics,’’ critical inquiry into ‘‘the precise activity occurring when the poet introduces thought as a discriminable dimension of the form and meaning of the poem.’’ He continues: ‘‘If poetics...
3. My List of Permanencies
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‘‘Unconsciously we all have a standard by which we measure other men,’’ Clemens declared in a 1909 autobiographical dictation. ‘‘We admire them, we envy them, for great qualities which we ourselves lack. Hero worship consists in just that. Our heroes are men who do the things which we recognize...
4. Telling Fictions
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I have argued that Clemens’s explicitly autobiographical writing arose out of a need to confess the truth about himself, and failed because of a countervailing need to conceal the same thing. He recognized his failure for what it was, but knew at the same time that the dark truth would out, the exertions of...
5. Dreaming Better Dreams
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Clemens’s later life was crossed by extremes of adversity and emotional upheaval. The worst of the trouble began in 1894 when, after years of imprudent financial speculation, he suffered a humiliating plunge into bankruptcy. He partially righted himself by undertaking an around-the-world lecture...
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The fourth and final volume of Albert Bigelow Paine’s Mark Twain: A Biography is much more detailed than the other three. This is because it records the last few years of Clemens’s life, when Paine, now the ‘‘official’’ biographer and trusted member of the humorist’s household, enjoyed the privileged...
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2007