Release on 1969-04-01 | by Mark Twain,William M. Gibson
Author: Mark Twain,William M. Gibson
Pubpsher: Univ of California Press
Category: Literary Criticism
Six, years after Mark Twain's death, Albert Bigelow Paine, the author's literary executor, brought out a bowdlerized edition of The Mysterious Stranger, silently cut and cobbled from three unfinished manuscripts. This volume presents those manuscripts for the first time, exactly as mark Twain wrote them. Paine's disingenuous account of the history of his edition has, until recently, misled critics into believing that Mark Twain's creative abilities deserted him for a time, only to be recovered in the composition of The Mysterious Stranger. By writing this tale, said Bernard DeVoto, Mark Twain "saved himself in the end, and came back from the edge of insanity, and found as much peace as any man may find in his last years, and brought his talent into fruition and made it whole again." Although most critics have praised the work as the finest fiction of Mark Twain's later years, Paine and his collaborator, Frederick A. Duneka, so changed many of the book's essentials that it does not fully or accurately reflect the author's mood and thought. Paine's edition of the book was based, for the most part, on the earliest of the three versions, written during the time of Mark Twain's supposed creative paralysis. He and Duneka suppressed a quarter of the text of this manuscript and grafted onto it the last chapter of the latest version. Mark Twain began the first manuscript, "The Chronicle of Young Satan," in 1897; late in 1898, he tried to recast the story in a Hannibal setting, then returned to his first version, only to abandon it permanently in 1900. Between 1902 and 1908, he worked on the third and longest version, the only one the author called "The Mysterious Stranger." The publication of these texts therefore offers an opportunity to observe Mark Twain's sustained literary struggle with a central theme and to reevaluate the tantalizing question of the author's late work.
This is the only authoritative text of this late novel. It reproduces the manuscript which Mark Twain wrote last, and the only one he finished or called the "The Mysterious Stranger." Albert Bigelow Paine's edition of the same name has been shown to be a textual fraud.
In this first book on No. 44 in thirty years, thirteen especially commissioned essays by some of today's most accomplished Twain scholars cover an array of topics, from domesticity and transnationalism to race and religion, and reflect a variety of scholarly and theoretical approaches to the work. This far-reaching collection considers the status of No. 44 within Twain's oeuvre as they offer cogent insights into such broad topics as cross-culturalism, pain and redemption, philosophical paradox, and comparative studies of the "Mysterious Stranger" manuscripts. All of these essays attest to the importance of this late work in Twain's canon, whether considering how Twain's efforts at truth-telling are premeditated and shaped by his own experiences, tracing the biblical and religious influences that resonate in No. 44, or exploring the text's psychological dimensions. Several address its importance as a culminating work in which Twain's seemingly disjointed story lines coalesce in meaningful, albeit not always satisfactory, ways. An afterword by Alan Gribben traces the critical history of the "Mysterious Stranger" manuscripts and the contributions of previous critics. A wide-ranging critical introduction and a comprehensive bibliography on the last century of scholarship bracket the contributions. Close inspection of this multidimensional novel shows how Twain evolved as a self-conscious thinker and humorist--and that he was a more conscious artist throughout his career than has been previously thought. Centenary Reflections deepens our understanding of one of Twain's most misunderstood texts, confirming that the author of No. 44 was a pursuer of an elusive truth that was often as mysterious a stranger as Twain himself.
A Study Guide for Mark Twain's "No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger," excerpted from Gale's acclaimed Short Stories for Students. This concise study guide includes plot summary; character analysis; author biography; study questions; historical context; suggestions for further reading; and much more. For any literature project, trust Short Stories for Students for all of your research needs.
Release on 2010-04-15 | by LAWRENCE I. BERKOVE,Joseph Csicsila
Religion in the Literature of Mark Twain
Author: LAWRENCE I. BERKOVE,Joseph Csicsila
Pubpsher: University of Iowa Press
Category: Literary Criticism
Challenging the prevailing belief that Mark Twain’s position on religion hovered somewhere between skepticism and outright heresy, Lawrence Berkove and Joseph Csicsila marshal biographical details of Twain’s life alongside close readings of his work to explore the religious faith of America’s most beloved writer and humorist. They conclude not only that religion was an important factor in Twain’s life but also that the popular conception of Twain as agnostic, atheist, or apostate is simply wrong. Heretical Fictions is the first full-length study to assess the importance of Twain’s heretical Calvinism as the foundation of his major works, bringing to light important thematic ties that connect the author’s early work to his high period and from there to his late work. Berkove and Csicsila set forth the main elements of Twain’s “countertheological” interpretation of Calvinism and analyze in detail the way it shapes five of his major books—Roughing It, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger—as well as some of his major short stories. The result is a ground-breaking and unconventional portrait of a seminal figure in American letters.
Often regarded as the quintessential American author, Mark Twain in fact mined his knowledge and experience of Europe as assiduously as he did his adventures on the Mississippi and in the American West. In this challenging and original study, J. D. Stall looks closely at various Twain works with European settings and traces the manner in which the great writer redefined European notions of class into American concepts of gender, identity, and society. Stahl not only examines such famous writings as The Innocents Abroad, The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and the "Mysterious Stranger" manuscripts but also treats a number of neglected works, including 1601, "A Memorable Midnight Experience", and Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc. In these writings, Stahl shows, Twain utilized the terms and symbols of European society and history to express his deepest concerns involving father–son relationships, the legitimation of parentage, female political and sexual power, the victimization of "good" women, and, ultimately, the desire to bridge or even destroy the barriers between the sexes. The "exoticism" of foreign culture—with its kings and queens, priests, and aristocrats—furnished Twain with some especially potent images of power, authority, and tradition. These images, Stahl argues, were "plastic material in Mark Twain's hands", enabling the writer to explore the uncertainties and ambiguities of gender in America: what it meant to be a man in Victorian America; what Twain thought it meant to be a woman; how men and women did, could, and should relate to each other. Stahl's approach yields a wealth of fresh insights into Twain's work. In discussing The Innocents Abroad, for example, he analyzes the emergence of the "Mark Twain" persona as part of a quest for cultural authority that often took the form of sexual role-playing. He also demonstrates that The Prince and the Pauper, even more strikingly than Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, embodies the writer's central myth of orphaned sons searching for surrogate fathers. His reading of A Connecticut Yankee is a tour de force, uncovering the psychological contradictions in Twain's political aspirations toward democratic equality. Stahl's book is an important contribution to literary scholarship, informed by psychology, gender study, cultural theory, and traditional Twain criticism. It confirms Mark Twain's debt to European culture even as it illuminates his re-envisioning of that culture in his own uniquely American way.