In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

NOTES CARLYLE, CLEMENS, AND DICKENS: MARK TWAIN'S FRANCOPHOBIA, THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, AND DETERMINISM Wesley Britton Cedar Valley Community College Nineteenth-century Anglo-American ideas about French culture were shaped by a number of factors, including past and current political events, the moral assumptions of the dominant Protestant religious community, and the works of literary figures both French and English. Mark Twain, in many ways, held typically Anglo-American sentiments about French culture while manifesting a peculiar disgust for most things French throughout his life. The reasons for this bias are one focus of this study, tracing how this attitude was reflected in his literature as his anti-French notions evolved and became part of the philosophical nucleus for his post-1880s determinism. Twain's youthful, simplistic views on the French never lost their negative bite; rather, his ideas on the "damned human race," to use Albert B. Paine's phrase, grew from his Francophobia, with all mankind taking on the obnoxious characteristics he saw in French culture. Another key aspect of this puzzle turns on the events of the French Revolution and literary interpretations of it, particularly as portrayed in romantic fiction and popular histories. Two English writers, Thomas Carlyle and Charles Dickens, were key figures in this matrix of influence , especially through their widely read The French Revolution and A Tale of Two Cities. Previous studies have shown how these works influenced Huckleberry Finn and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court; less familiar is how Twain also reflected his British mentors' attitudes and made them useful in his later deterministic writings. Much analysis has been put to the issue of Twain's dislike for the French, primarily pointing to events in 1879 when Clemens toured France and found the people not as receptive to him as the English had been. Events in the Clemens' family trip to Paris in 1879 helped disillusion him. His wife expressed dissatisfaction with the French people; illness and bad weather soured conditions; and the Victorian Twain was appalled by French sexual standards.1 Commenting on the 1879 trip, Albert B. Paine wrote that Twain "read Carlyle's Revolution, a book he was never long without reading, and they all [the Clemens family] read A Tale of Two Cities. When the weather 198Ñores permitted, they visited the scenes of that grim period."2 Twain's experiences were reflected in his private notebooks, in which he wrote pages of "savage comments" about the French. On one page, he wrote "it is a wise Frenchman who knows his own father" and "a Frenchman 's heart is where another man's wife is." Twain also wrote several chapters for A Tramp Abroad savagely attaching the French, but did not publish them because the ferocity of the attacks was deemed inappropriate for the book.3 Twain's rereading of The French Revolution and A Tale of Two Cities in Paris in 1879 helped reinforce his anti-French sentiments, as he cataloged the French barbarities recounted by Carlyle.4 The French of the Reign of Terror and the unresponsive Parisians of 1879 blended in Twain's increasing bile. But Clemens' anti-French notions had begun to jell a decade before the 1879 trip. Louis Budd observes that Twain's capitalist tendencies outweighed his democratic allegiances in his reactions to the French during the Quaker City excursion of 1866. The youthful, immature Twain felt no sympathy for the poor of Paris, commenting that "here live the people who start revolutions . . . they take as much genuine pleasure in building a barricade as they do in cutting a throat or shoving a friend into the Seine." Whatever his later opinions on French aristocracy, Clemens then saw Napoleon IH in a favorable light, calling him "the greatest man in the world today" because he revived the "commercial prosperity" and rebuilt cities "at no expense to common-wealth or city"; Napoleon, he wrote, "has taken sole control of the Empire of France into his hands, and made it the freest country in the world—perhaps—for people who will not attempt to go too far in meddling with government affairs."5 Twain was reflecting a typically American attitude of the nineteenth...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 197-204
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.