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248Reviews themes as "piloting" become unusually difficult to trace from work to work. Moreover, the author's practice of putting summary information in the last (rather than the first) note to each chapter also seemed annoying (at least until I began reading the last note first), as did the suddenly broadened parameters of the discussion in the last few pages. Here, I would recommend that a student begin at the end, with Chapter 12. Overall minor faults are offset by a well-balanced "bibliography," which completes a package of impressive scholarship that more than justifies its price. Northeastern UniversityEarl N. Harbert Budd, Louis J. Our Mark Twai,- The Making ofHis Public Personality. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1983. 266 pp. Cloth: $21.95. Louis J. Budd's Our Mark Twain opens with the immediate responses to Mark Twain's death in 1910, when The New York Times estimated that he had been "quoted in common conversation offener, perhaps, than any of his fellow-countrymen," and Co/lier 's Weekly extolled this "great and gracious personality" whom "success could not spoil nor adversity embitter" (pp. 4, 9). Budd then reverts from this time of national mourning to the period of Twain's first travel book, Innocents Abroad (1869), tracing his deliberate efforts, decade by decade, to enhance an ever-more-popular public image, and closing with a chapter that justifies "respect for his genius at dramatizing his celebrity into a memorable personality" (p. 240). Chapters 3 ("A Blood Relative") and 9 ("Statesman Without Salary ") are particularly illuminating. As a comic hero, Twain understood the advantages of a pose of dauntless irreverence; as a working journalist, he had an insider's comprehension of the partialities and prejudices of newspaper and magazine interviewers; as a quondam editorial-writer, columnist, and reviewer, he intuited dangers from overexposure in print. Most crucially, according to Budd, "the strongest direct source of his image continued to be his own writing" (p. 66.) Opportunistic and assiduous in crafting his mask, Mark Twain, like P. T. Barnum, "improved on the confidence man by going legitimate and got credit for his shrewdness in managing to do that so openly" (p. 25). Budd progressed toward writing Our Mark Twain by a commendably inductive route: Budd's "A Listing of and Selection from Newspaper and Magazine Interviews with Samuel L. Clemens, 1874-1910" (ALR, 10 [1977], 1-100) evaluated nearly 300 published items; his Critical Essays on Mark Twain, 1867-1910 (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982) reprinted examples of contemporary opinion during Twain's lifetime; and his valuable "A 'Talent for Posturing': The Achievement of Mark Twain's Public Personality," included in The Mythologizing of Mark Twain (University: Univ. of Alabama Press, 1984, pp. 77-98), rehearsed, but did not duplicate, some salient points of Our Mark Twain. Still, there are flaws in Budd's latest contribution to this theme. His gesture toward establishing a "method" of approach (Chapter 2)—with its nods toward John G. Cawelti and Richard Hoggart and its one-sentence definitions of American Studies, mass literacy, and popular culture—seems perfunctory. And he touches knowledgeably but only superficially on Twain's literary works. All the same, reviews of Budd's book have been generally favorable. Rüssel B. Nye applauds the work for analyzing "an American culture hero whose reputation derives almost wholly from the media of his time and ours," hailing Our Mark Twain as "the most significant work of Twain scholarship to appear in the last twenty years" (AL, 56 [1984], 434). L. G. Crossman's less charitable review nonetheless asserts that "on balance there is probably more wisdom packed into Louis J. Budd's new book Studies in American Fiction249 than can be found in either Justin Kaplan's Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain or Hamlin Hill's Mark Twain: God's Fool" (ALR, 17 [1984], 132). Both of these reviewers are enthusiastic about the enormous shift in Mark Twain literary criticism that Our Mark Twain betokens and encourages: when the former chairman of English at Duke University and current Managing Editor of American Literature produces a book containing fifty-seven cartoons and illustrations in an attempt to understand Mark Twain's "constant efforts to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 248-249
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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