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In “The Private History of the ‘Jumping Frog’ Story” (1894), Mark Twain prefaces his account of the provenance of the famous story that launched his career with two anecdotes about artistic theft. Rereading the “Jumping Frog” in light of these anecdotes and the theory of originality Twain espouses in the “Private History,” this essay disputes the widespread interpretation that credits the internal, vernacular narrator, Simon Wheeler, with a subversive deadpan humor. On the contrary, this frame necessarily identifies the fictional Wheeler as a genuine simpleton. Twain similarly framed his historical source for the “Jumping Frog” story;ͱhis possession accrued not from exercising artistic originality but through publication and accreditation.