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226Reviews view: to prove that the years 1867—1871 provided watershed experiences in the making of the Mark Twain we recognize today. In a sense then, "this book begins where Huck ends," with a thirty-three-year-old Clemens on the verge of literary and cultural celebrity. Of course the steps by which Clemens comes of age are intricate; and in these pages, at least a part of his journey is expertly traced from Elmira to Buffalo to Hartford. Steinbrink knows this territory and its people (such as Abel Fairbanks and Jervis Langdon)—all the visible markers encountered along the way. Better yet, he uses correspondence (from Berkeley and elsewhere) and a generous sampling of Twain's minor publications to document the thesis. When Twain, on November 27, 1871, wrote to Olivia, "When I come to write the Mississippi book, then look out!" he had learned that his richest artistic lode stood ready for excavation neither East nor West, but "in the body of the nation." Thanks to Steinbrink, we can watch that lesson take shape. Northeastern UniversityEarl N. Harbert Cardwell, Guy. The Man Who Was Mark Twain. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1991. 267 pp. Cloth: $27.50 Rambunctious, iconoclastic, radical revisionist, Guy Cardwell gallops into Mark Twain Territory like e. e. cummings' Buffalo Bill and sets out to "break onetwothreefourfive mythsjustlikethat," assaulting all the various cliches that surround the legend called Mark Twain. Cardwell's intention is to take "a few key topics in order to begin to distinguish Samuel Clemens from his personae" (p. 2). At the conclusion, his verdict is that "Samuel Clemens suffered from severe psychological conflicts: his pathogenic psychological structures were, as is testified to by his life and writings, powerfully narcisstic. . . . He often gave the appearance of being audacious or commanding but he never attained anything like secure psychic adulthood, never achieved a mature, integrated personality, never became independent" (pp. 221—22). Cardwell assembles his evidence in a series of discrete but unified chapters. After an extensive and sophisticated history of the famous Brooks/DeVoto shouting match, Cardwell examines Clemens' relationship with his in-laws, particularly his formidable mother-in-law, his relationship with Olivia and his daughters, his adaptation of his art to satisfy his materialistic system of values (a "hypertrophied market mentality," p. 72), his possible impotence from about age fifty, his obsessive attraction to fifteen-year-old girls, his unrepentant racism even in Huckleberry Finn, and his "dirty old man" predilection for smutty jokes whose punch lines adorned page after page of his notebooks. Although much of Cardwell's information is familiar to Twainians, he is the only critic who has sifted Clemens' behavior and personality through the filter of Freudian psychoanalysis. This will no doubt disturb the conservative Twain faction, but the portrait that emerges is becoming increasingly familiar: a domestic tyrant, a literary Philistine, and a man who used a thousand faces to protect the real and defenseless one from public scrutiny. That Wizard of Oz manipulator is the game afoot in The Man Who Was Mark Twain. A problem with this revisionist interpretation of Samuel Clemens is that Cardwell ignores some evidence which would strengthen his case. For example, a letter surfaced in 1985 (a copy is now at the Mark Twain Project at the University of California, Studies in American Fiction227 Berkeley) in which, dictating to his new secretary Isabel Lyon on November 26, 1902, Clemens acknowledges that he has consciously and deliberately suppressed his true feelings about a pessimistic and deterministic universe for thirty years. The reason for the self-censorship: his wife insisted that he refrain from publishing such material. Again, on p. 156, Cardwell examines a passage from A Tramp Abroad, debating with both himself and John Seelye (in Mark Twain in the Movies, New York: Viking Press, 1977) whether Twain's description of a nude German girl bathing at the edge of the Neckar River is an early manifestation of his later obsession with young prenubile girls. Cardwell concludes that the passage does not bear the weight Seelye imposed on it; but in fact the original holograph manuscript page contains and then deletes the telling information that the young girl was of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 226-227
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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