- Mark Twain
Two very different but excellent editions highlight the year. Henry Wonham edits a special issue of American Literary Realism, “Mark Twain and Economy”; Chad Rohman takes over the editorship of The Mark Twain Annual; and Alan Gribben brings the Mark Twain Journal back to a current publication schedule. Gribben also institutes a new feature, “Legacy Scholars,” overviews of the careers of prominent Twain scholars: the first, which I was honored to write, profiles David E. E. Sloane (MTJ 52, i: 9–17), and the second Lawrence I. Berkove, written by Joseph Csicsila (MTJ 52, ii: 9–23). The year brings more articles on Twain than in recent years, spanning his career but with particular emphasis on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, especially the ending, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
i Editions and Bibliographical Studies
A Family Sketch and Other Private Writings by Mark Twain, Livy Clemens, and Susy Clemens, ed. Benjamin Griffin (Calif.), publishes private writings by Mark Twain, his wife, and his daughter, manuscripts never intended for publication. “A Family Sketch,” recently acquired by the Bancroft Library, began as a memorial to Susy Clemens but became a chronicle of the entire family, including their servants. Rather than a lament for his lost daughter, Twain’s essay recovers the Clemens family during its happiest years and provides records of several people that would otherwise be lost. Since Mary Ann Cord is the last person [End Page 75] mentioned in the sketch, Griffin also includes “A True Story,” which Twain “recorded word for word” from Cord’s account of family separation in slavery, freshly prepared from the original manuscript and restoring the text from changes made on publication by the Atlantic Monthly in 1874. “A Record of the Small Foolishnesses of Susie and ‘Bay’ Clemens (Infants),” written from 1876 to 1885, collects sayings of and anecdotes about the Clemens daughters, three of the entries by Olivia Clemens, the rest by Mark Twain. “At the Farm,” a short piece written in 1884 and intended as an addendum to “A Record of the Small Foolishnesses,” is notable for its focus on the youngest daughter, Jean, showing her lifelong love for animals. Portions of both manuscripts appear elsewhere, notably in Albert Bigelow Paine’s biography of Twain and in Twain’s Autobiography, but they are presented here in full for the first time. The volume concludes with Livy’s diary, written in the Hartford house guest-book in 1885, and Susy Clemens’s biography of her father, also begun in 1885, reproducing her eccentric spelling and grammar, with charming results. Griffin has edited these texts expertly, with unobtrusive but helpful notes and a very useful biographical dictionary of all the persons mentioned.
Gary Scharnhorst edits Mark Twain on Potholes: Letters to the Editor (Missouri). To say that this collection of letters is a delight from beginning to end is an understatement. The 101 letters to editors of various publications span the years 1866–1910, nearly the entire time that Samuel Clemens was known to the world as Mark Twain. The letters are by turns humorous, sarcastic, satirical, witty, whimsical, serious, outraged, emotional, philosophical, political, bitter, and profoundly human—in short, exhibiting all the many facets of the writer and person we know as Mark Twain. Scharnhorst provides concise but helpful notes for each letter, giving context and filling in details about people and places for letters that are firmly grounded in particular but long-lost moments in time. Mark Twain on Potholes is also that rare scholarly book that would make a fine gift.
In bibliographical studies Scharnhorst has uncovered important new material. “Mark Twain’s First Report of the 1865 San Francisco Earthquake: A Recovered Document” (ALR 46, iii: 268–70) provides an objective account of the 8 October 1865 event, first published in the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, whose archives are now lost, but reprinted in the Montana Post. The short piece highlights Mark Twain as an objective reporter—he was to write a more fanciful report a few days [End Page 76] later. The notes are especially helpful and informative. Scharnhorst’s archival and Internet research has also unearthed ten new supposedly lost pieces...