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Mark Twain

Mark Twain: The Adventures of Samuel L. Clemens

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 520
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  • Book Info
    Mark Twain
    Book Description:

    Mark Twain, who was often photographed with a cigar, once remarked that he came into the world looking for a light. In this new biography, published on the centennial of the writer's death, Jerome Loving focuses on Mark Twain, humorist and quipster, and sheds new light on the wit, pathos, and tragedy of the author ofAdventures of Huckleberry Finn. In brisk and compelling fashion, Loving follows Twain from Hannibal to Hawaii to the Holy Land, showing how the southerner transformed himself into a westerner and finally a New Englander. This re-examination of Twain's life is informed by newly discovered archival materials that provide the most complex view of the man and writer to date.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94549-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  4. Chronology of the Life and Works of Mark Twain
    (pp. xvii-xxiv)
  5. Prologue
    (pp. 1-8)

    “She was always beautiful,” Mark Twain wrote of his mother following her death in 1890. The woman who had given birth to Samuel Langhorne Clemens died in her eighty-eighth year. At the end, even with her mind in the fog of senility, she still knew him perfectly, this third son who had been born two months premature. “But to her disordered fancy I was not a gray-headed man [of almost fifty-five], but a school-boy, and had just arrived from the east on vacation.” Actually, to be at her bedside, he had traveled from Hartford, Connecticut, where he had lived with...


    • 1 Life on the Salt River
      (pp. 11-18)

      The author’s grandfather Samuel B. Clemens died in a house-raising accident at the age of thirty-five. While pushing a log up an incline, Clemens slipped and it crushed him against a stump. His carelessness, Mark Twain later hinted inThe American Claimant(1892), may have been “induced by over-plus of sour-mash.” Clemens and his wife, Pamela Goggin, had been married for eight years when the tragedy struck in 1805. It happened in Mason County, Virginia (now West Virginia), on the banks of the Ohio River, where the couple lived on two tracts of land covering more than a hundred acres....

    • 2 Window to the West
      (pp. 19-27)

      Mark Twain’s fictional name for Hannibal was St. Petersburg. It was possibly a code word for heaven, the home of St. Pete and the site of Sam’s childhood happiness. Or, on a more somber note, he may have named his hometown for St. Petersburg—after the city built in the eighteenth century by Peter the Great of Russia. Also set on water, or on pilings driven into the marshes of the Neva River on the Gulf of Finland, in its architecture it looked to the West and to Europe. Until recently, it was called Leningrad, so named in the wake...

    • 3 Orion
      (pp. 28-34)

      Hannibal was anything but the sleepy town Mark Twain described in the first installment of “Old Times on the Mississippi,” published in theAtlantic Monthlyin 1875 and later incorporated intoLife on the Mississippi. It was a busy place even without steamboats, and its activity should have assisted John Marshall Clemens in making a decent living for himself and his family. By the end of the second year in Hannibal, however, the family was forced to sell its last slave and sign over the deeds to most of the property they had purchased from Stout. Jennie was sold first...

    • 4 Southwest Humorist
      (pp. 35-43)

      At almost the same age as Twain, Benjamin Franklin had written as “Silence Dogood” in a parody of Puritan piety in his brother’s newspaper, the New EnglandCourant. Sam Clemens wrote under several pseudonyms in his brother Orion’s newspaper and began a writing career that Walter Blair has called the culmination of the humor of the Old Southwest.¹ Blair’s pioneering work on the subject has recently been deepened by James H. Justus inFetching the Old Southwest(2004). In this penetrating history of southwestern humor before Mark Twain, Justus reminds us of how serious the humor could become in the...

    • 5 Tramp Printer
      (pp. 44-53)

      “I disappeared one night and fled to St. Louis,” Twain recalled in his autobiography. This was probably sometime in the first two weeks of June 1853. “There I worked in the composing-room of theEvening Newsfor a time and then started on my travels to see the world.” His first stop was New York City, but it is remotely possible that by the time he resided there, he had already decided to travel to South America and profit in coca (possibly the first of a lifetime series of get-rich schemes or inventions), and not simply after he returned to...

    • 6 Cub Pilot
      (pp. 54-61)

      The name of Horace E. Bixby is one of the more notable landmarks in the life of Mark Twain. Bixby was a New Yorker who had spent more than a third of his life in the South on the Mississippi River. Yet he would have no qualms about serving as a Union pilot when the war broke out almost exactly four years after first meeting Clemens. Bixby may well be the “pilot mate” in “The Private History of a Campaign That Failed” who was “strong for the Union” when the war brought steamboat traffic to a virtual halt in the...

    • 7 Death on the Mississippi
      (pp. 62-66)

      “Henry died this morning,” said the telegram, “leave tomorrow with the corpse.” So wrote a tearful Sam Clemens to his sister Pamela and her husband, Will Moffett, in St. Louis on June 21, 1858. Henry, very likely the model for Sid inTom Sawyerand possibly a lingering image in Twain’s 1870Galaxysketch entitled “The Story of the Good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper,” was fatally injured in the explosion of thePennsylvaniaon June 13.¹ Three days before sending the telegram, Sam had written Mollie Clemens, Orion’s wife, predicting his younger brother’s imminent death: “Long before this...

    • 8 Fetching Grant
      (pp. 67-73)

      We come now to the question of Sam Clemens’s military activities during the Civil War and specifically whether he was in fact a deserter from the Confederate army. In spite of the numerous biographies and extensive studies of this writer, one of the most remarkable areas of neglect is exactly what he did in the Civil War and why. All we have, it seems, is “The Private History of a Campaign That Failed,” along with a few other primary sources that contain sometimes conflicting information.¹ They suggest only that Clemens served briefly in a state militia informally called the Marion...

    • 9 Lighting Out
      (pp. 74-80)

      The day Sam and Orion departed from “the States” at St. Joseph, Missouri, was exhilarating. It was July 26, 1861, “a superb summer morning, and all the landscape was brilliant with sunshine.” The two brothers felt, as Twain recorded in chapter 2 ofRoughing It, a “sense of emancipation from all sorts of cares and responsibilities.” The relief that Sam felt in getting away from the war washismain source of exhilaration. Orion, on the other hand, was now traveling for the Union, to a job as secretary of Nevada Territory, which would pay him a salary of eighteen...

    • 10 A Millionaire for Ten Days
      (pp. 81-86)

      Two years after “Silverado”—the silver rush to Washoe—Sam Clemens entered the still-promising field. Henry Tompkins Paige Comstock had put his name on the Lode in 1859, but as with so many turns of fate in the mining business, his “discovery” had originally been the property of someone else, in this case two unlucky brothers from Pennsylvania, Ethan Allen and Hosea Ballou Grosh, sons of a Universalist minister. Following the accidental death of Hosea, his brother set out in November 1857 to cross the Sierra. He put his cabin in the charge of Comstock, a Canadian. Ethan Grosh left...

    • 11 “Mark Twain”
      (pp. 87-93)

      Mark Twain told his authorized biographer that when he gave up mining for journalism, he walked the 125 miles from Esmeralda County to Virginia City. “It was the afternoon of a hot, dusty August day,” Paine dutifully wrote, “when a worn, travel-stained pilgrim drifted laggingly into the office of the Virginia CityEnterprise, then in its new building on C Street, and, loosening a heavy roll of blankets from his shoulders, dropped wearily into a chair.” Actually, it was late September, not August, because Clemens was still in Esmeralda on September 9, 1862, and his earliest known writing for the...

    • 12 Governor of the Third House
      (pp. 94-99)

      By the end of October 1863, Sam was back in Carson City to report on the territory’s constitutional convention, in which statehood was rejected because the vote called for a property tax on mines, not simply on their output. The negative vote delayed statehood for another nine months, and western secessionist presses hailed it as a victory for anti-Union sentiment in the territories.¹ Clemens either remained through the New Year or returned there from Virginia City, to cover the third territorial legislature, which eventually redesigned the state constitution to limit the tax on mines. In spite of the recent setback...

    • 13 The Jumping Frog
      (pp. 100-109)

      Sam Clemens’s permanent removal to San Francisco in 1864 marked an important stage in his career as Mark Twain, for he began to publish sketches, hundreds of them, that would not only lead to but also enhance his initial fame as the author of the Jumping Frog story in 1865. Most were written after he made his last move to the Bay City, and twenty-six of them went essentially unchanged (the editing in most cases amounting to selective cutting) into his first book along with “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” retitled “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” His...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • 14 Vandal Abroad
      (pp. 110-117)

      Mark Twain’s next adventure in the West would be a sojourn to the Sandwich Islands. Of the six sketches published after theSaturday Pressissue of the Jumping Frog story but before his Hawaii sketches, and also printed inThe Celebrated Jumping Frog, probably only one is significant for his development as a writer. This was “The Story of the Bad Little Boy That Bore a Charmed Life,” which appeared in theCalifornianon December 23, 1865. Its title inJumping Frogbecame “The Story of the Bad Little Boy Who Didn’t Come to Grief.”¹ It marks both the first...

    • 15 Wild Humorist of the Pacific Slope
      (pp. 118-126)

      Evidently, it was Ambassador Burlingame who gave Twain the idea of lecturing by suggesting that he do it in the Far East. He had talked publicly before, of course, long ago in Keokuk at that printer apprentices’ dinner and more recently as the burlesque Governor of the Third House in Carson City. Yet it would take some seed money and a newspaper sponsor to get such a project off the ground. Thanks to Emerson’s success in what was still considered the West (mainly Ohio and adjacent states), the public lecture was becoming popular. As Paul Fatout remarks, by the end...


    • 16 Westerner in the East
      (pp. 129-136)

      The “Wild Humorist of the Pacific Slope” had finally come to Manhattan, by then beginning to rival Boston as the publishing center of the American universe. With hardly more than a year since his Jumping Frog story had appeared in the New YorkSaturday Press, there was a buzz about its author, this new funny man on the horizon called Mark Twain, perhaps because of the news of Charles Henry Webb’s imminent publication ofThe Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches. In recycling the story for theCalifornianin the July 16, 1865, issue, the word “Celebrated”...

    • 17 Pilgrims on the Loose
      (pp. 137-144)

      Dan Slote and Mark Twain would have a future together, but their relationship would rupture in the end over a business deal gone sour. The humorist made few enemies during his lifetime, but anybody who wronged him, who betrayed his confidence, crossed the Rubicon. A potbellied merchant in his late thirties, Slote was one of Twain’s innermost circle of friends on the trip. He could well afford a cruise that was six or seven times more expensive than the average round-trip crossing to Paris on a Cunard liner. In fact, he left the ship in Egypt and remained abroad for...

    • 18 Love in a Locket
      (pp. 145-152)

      While Mark Twain was still traveling in Spain, he sent a letter back to his old friend and former boss Joe Goodman, who published parts of it in the Virginia CityEnterprise. “Between you and I,” he wrote, “this pleasure party of ours is composed of the damnedest, rustiest, ignorant, vulgar, slimy, psalm-singing cattle that could be scraped up in seventeen States.” He prefaced this remark by saying that he hadn’t let it out yet, “but am going to.” The next day this cat with nine lives was already out of the bag. While theQuaker Citywas docked in...

    • 19 The Innocent at Home
      (pp. 153-161)

      If Twain was indeed committed to Livy only a few months into the relationship, he wasn’t telling anybody about it. In a recently recovered letter to his sister-in-law in Keokuk on February 21, 1868, he sounds as though he is playing the field and enjoying the recent acclaim stemming from his postvoyage letters in theTribuneandHerald. “I must answer some letters of ‘Quaker City’ ladies,” he told Mollie. “They are indefatigable correspondents, & exceedingly pleasant withal. I give them a paragraph from the book, now & then, just to hear them howl.” Earlier in the letter he speaks of receiving...

    • 20 False Start in Buffalo
      (pp. 162-171)

      Sam Clemens sealed two lifelong friendships in 1868, not only the deep affection of Olivia Langdon but also the unwavering loyalty of the Reverend Joseph Hopkins Twichell. It seems a fair surmise that Clemens remained relatively quiet about his own Civil War service for almost a quarter century, in part because he was intimidated by the war stories of the Reverend Joe, who had been a chaplain in the Army of the Potomac. In that Union force under the successive commands of Generals John Pope and Ambrose Burnside, as Lincoln continued to search for a killer named Grant, Twichell had...

    • 21 Back on the Lecture Circuit
      (pp. 172-178)

      What began as a dream just a year ago had now turned into a nightmare. Abandoning the scene of that dream, the Buffalo house that Livy’s parents bought and furnished for them—a genuine surprise for Sam, who was duped into thinking they were to occupy rented rooms—the couple retreated with their sick child to Elmira, where both mother and son slowly recovered from typhoid fever. One of the few bright notes at this time of continued crisis was the growing success ofThe Innocents Abroad. By this time it was clear that the book would probably make him...

    • 22 Home in Hartford
      (pp. 179-187)

      Mark Twain and his family rented the Hooker house for two and half years before occupying the Hartford mansion on Farmington Avenue, which is today the main shrine to the author of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” andAdventures of Huckleberry Finn. Living “next door” was young William Hooker Gillette, the son of one of the two founders of the suburban development that had turned the Nook Farm woodland into an upper-class neighborhood by the time Twain lived there. As Gillette told a speech class at Harvard College in the 1930s, he knew the voice of his famous...

    • 23 Sequel to a Success
      (pp. 188-194)

      Roughing Itbecame Mark Twain’s first major effort as a professional writer, planned as such at the very outset. His previous books,The Celebrated Jumping FrogandThe Innocents, had evolved almost entirely out of his short magazine pieces and newspaper letters. It was a major step up as a professional writer. Even before he had withdrawn the Hawaii book of travel letters, he fell into the chance to travel on theQuaker Cityto Europe and the Near East, after originally not knowing how he was going to pursue Anson Burlingame’s idea of writing from Asia. If Elisha Bliss...

    • 24 A Book about the English
      (pp. 195-200)

      In the spring of 1872, following the success ofRoughing It, Mark Twain considered himself not only a successful humorist but also a proven travel writer. His next sojourn would, he thought, take him to a book about the English. After spending the summer with his family at a seaside resort in Saybrook Point, Connecticut, he sailed by himself that August to England. Just before his departure, he told Orion about his self-pasting scrapbook, the only invention that would ever earn him any sizable sum of money, outside his inventions in fiction. By now Orion had lost his job at...

    • 25 Colonel Sellers
      (pp. 201-208)

      The Gilded Age, a satirical novel about government corruption in postwar America, appeared at the end of 1873, while Twain was still in England. He had written it with Charles Dudley Warner in five or six months earlier that year. It was a subscription book issued by the American Publishing Company (and by the Routledges in England), but, despite Twain’s name recognition, not to mention Warner’s reputation as a genteel humorist, it did not sell nearly so well as eitherRoughing ItorThe Innocents Abroad. (These sales may have had something to do with the fact thatThe Gilded...

    • 26 Mississippi Memories
      (pp. 209-215)

      Even before Twain made so much money on the play, he was becoming rich from his books. By the end of 1874 the American Publishing Company had bound a total of almost 245,000 copies ofThe Innocents Abroad, Roughing It, andThe Gilded Age.¹ By the timeColonel Sellersclosed its first season in New York in January 1875, he was awash in memories of the South, which flooded his imagination and would form the basis forTom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi, andHuckleberry Finn. These works would bring him not only more money but permanent literary fame. His...

    • 27 The Riley Book
      (pp. 216-221)

      Considered as adult literature,The Adventures of Tom Sawyeris possibly the most overrated work in American literature. If Mark Twain had never writtenHuckleberry Finn, it would today be regarded as simply one of the era’s great paeans to the American boy, in the tradition of Thomas Bailey Aldrich’s forgotten classic (The Story of a Bad Boy) “about the pleasant reprobate” who “in spite of the natural outlawry of boyhood,” as Howells put it, “was more or less part of a settled order of things.” Instead, paired with the “sequel” that became an American classic, it has been either...

    • 28 Banned in Boston
      (pp. 222-230)

      The most memorable event for Mark Twain in 1877 should have been his second visit to Bermuda, this time in the welcome company of his “pastor,” Joe Twichell. As we will recall, Twain had made a brief first visit there a decade earlier at the tail end of theQuaker Citycruise. His second visit in May would set in motion a pattern of returning there numerous times throughout his life, particularly in his final years, for the island reminded him of his happy childhood in the Mississippi Valley as well as his time in the paradise he had found...

    • 29 The Innocent Abroad Again
      (pp. 231-239)

      “I have the honor to reply to your letter just received,” the automatic letter with his facsimile signature said, “That it is my purpose to write a continuation of tom sawyer’s history, but i am not able at this time to determine when i shall begin the work.” Perhaps the form letter, datelined Hartford, 1877, with a blank for the month and day, was one of Twain’s first attempts at cloning himself through the latest technology, a small way toward turning out more books; forTom Sawyer, in spite of its difficult American birth, proved so popular that letters from...

    • 30 Down and Out in Paris and London
      (pp. 240-246)

      It can be safely said that by March 1879 Mark Twain had come to hate the French and, by that summer, was reassessing his high estimate of the British. It may have been the weather, for the winter of 1879 was one of the most severe in France and indeed Europe. Yet his moodiness toward the French should have been uplifted somewhat by his Parisian surroundings. The Clemens party lived in the luxurious Normandy Hotel, on the corner of rue de l’Échelle and rue St. Honoré, in the very center of the City of Light, on its elegant Right Bank...


    • 31 Associations New and Old
      (pp. 249-255)

      A Tramp Abroadwould be Mark Twain’s last book with the American Publishing Company for years to come. It had been a difficult work to finish, what with all the cuts and revisions. Yet, probably because of its advance publicity by way of early reviews and published excerpts, the book, released in March 1880, sold well—in its first year more than sixty thousand copies in the United States. Elisha Bliss died the following fall. Twain had been less and less satisfied with the man who had sold so many of his books by subscription. Paradoxically, it was the success...

    • 32 Return to the River and the Lecture Circuit
      (pp. 256-264)

      On April 17, 1882, Mark Twain attended a dinner at the Union League Club in New York City. The next morning, in the company of Osgood and Phelps, he took a train for St. Louis. By April 28 they were in New Orleans, having journeyed down the Mississippi first on theGold Dustand then on theCharles Morgan. During the trip south, Twain tried to go under a pseudonym so that his fame wouldn’t hamper his ability to draw out the pilots, but he was recognized almost immediately. One of the sailors in the pilothouse quipped to Sam that...

    • 33 Mark Twain and the Phunny Phellows
      (pp. 265-269)

      One of the reasons Mark Twain grumbled during the tour with Cable is that it effectively returned him to his role as a literary comedian and underscored his fame as a “phunny phellow.” He had just written an American masterpiece, but here he was doing theatrical high jinks on stage with a southern novelist and a local colorist. (Although he did not at first quite realize its full literary and historical power, Twain did ultimately considerHuckleberry Finnhis best work more often than not.) His performances consisted of readings from his more humorous pieces over the years, but they...

    • 34 Webster and Paige
      (pp. 270-277)

      During the 1880s two quite different individuals emerged in the life of Mark Twain, and their involvement with him would have dire consequences. It was the decade in which he triumphed withAdventures of Huckleberry Finnand failed (critically, at least) withA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Indeed, his literary highs and lows during this period are almost perfectly reflected in his fortunes and misfortunes as a businessman and an investor. First, there was Charles Luther Webster, who had married Annie Moffett, Sam’s niece by his sister Pamela, in 1875. He hailed from Dunkirk, New York, thirty miles...

    • 35 A Romance of the White Conscience
      (pp. 278-288)

      Twain’s edginess in gettingAdventures of Huckleberry Finnready for publication in 1884 shows in some of the prefatory material he inserted at the last moment—as if to delay that final plunge into this “sequel” toTom Sawyer. For this book would take him deep into the American experience of slavery, a topic first stirred in “A True Story” but hardly touched on in his first two novelistic uses of the matters of Hannibal and the Mississippi. Slavery as an institution had effectively died with the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, but its impact on the country and this writer...

    • 36 Publishing Grant
      (pp. 289-296)

      “It had never been my intention,” Mark Twain recalled in his 1906 autobiographical dictation, “to publish any body’s books but my own.” He was referring to the publication of Grant’sMemoirsand his ownHuckleberry Finnby Webster & Company, formed after his break with Osgood & Company in 1884. James Osgood had failed miserably, in Twain’s opinion, in his subscription sale ofLife on the Mississippi, and he didn’t want to go back to the American Publishing Company with his sequel toTom Sawyerbecause that “company had been robbing me for years and building theological factories out of the proceeds.”¹...

    • 37 Brooding in King Arthur’s Court
      (pp. 297-305)

      A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Courtrepresents the first and last time Mark Twain published in a literary work the kind of satiric diatribe that would typify the tenor of his posthumous publications. The English reaction to it was unsmiling disapproval. As the reviewer for thePall Mall Gazettesaid, Mark Twain might as well have burlesqued the Sermon on the Mount. His trifling with Sir Thomas Malory’sMorte Darthur, the very first prose masterpiece in English following the Middle Ages and a national romance embodying the core ideals of British and Western civilization, was simply more than most...

    • 38 Progress and Poverty
      (pp. 306-314)

      Mark Twain continued to hammer away at British nobility in his next novel, published in 1892. He had begunThe American Claimantin the mid-1880s as an unsuccessful drama cowritten with Howells; it had been adapted from the play version ofThe Gilded Ageand was ultimately entitled “Colonel Sellers as a Scientist.” Matthew Arnold’s attack on the irreverence of American newspapers is ridiculed in the story by contrasting them with the British press, which is seen as nothing more than a propaganda tool for the glories “of the petted and privileged few, at cost of the blood and sweat...

    • 39 Europe on Only Dollars a Day
      (pp. 315-321)

      Twain went abroad with his family in June 1891 to save money, because with his dwindling income he could no longer afford the high cost of maintaining the Hartford house. Yet he ended up taking nothing less than the grand tour of the best Swiss, French, and German hotels, spas, and operas—paying couriers, waiters, porters, private teachers for his daughters, and other agents, according to the ritual of the now wealthy Americans (his “tribe” as he called them in a series of travel letters reminiscent ofA Tramp Abroad)traveling abroad in Europe. Passengers on theQuaker Cityback...

    • 40 A Dream Sold Down the River
      (pp. 322-330)

      The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilsonhas given modern critics extensive grounds for consternation and disagreement (even the use of the word “tragedy” in the title is challenged on both textual and thematic grounds). In the wake of the civil rights movement and affirmative action, its plot is inevitably troubling to today’s reader. It is clearly informed by Twain’s own state of conflicted feelings about blacks and race in the 1890s, a point of view that was absorbed into his pessimism about the so-called “damned human race.” In its final evolution out of a farce later labeled a “comedy” in the...

    • 41 Family Matters
      (pp. 331-336)

      On January 18, 1893, from Florence, Clemens wrote his old friend Mary Fairbanks, whose husband had recently gone through the bankruptcy he increasingly feared for himself, that he had ground out “mighty stacks of manuscript in these 3½ months, & some day I mean to publish some of it.” These stacks probably included “Tom Sawyer Abroad” and “The £1,000,000 Bank-note,” but the book he was working on at the moment was neither of these. “That is private,” he told her, “& not for print, it’s written for love & not for lucre, & to entertain the family with, around the around the lamp...

    • 42 A Friend at Standard Oil
      (pp. 337-344)

      Henry Rogers was a couple of years younger than Twain, whose writings he had admired for years. Twain’s depictions of small-town life, especially inThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer, reminded Rogers of his own humble beginnings, from which he had risen to become John D. Rockefeller’s leading financier and vice president at the Standard Oil Company. Worth today’s equivalent of thirty-nine billion dollars, Rogers could have modeled for Dreiser’s Frank Cowperwood inThe Financier(1912). He was ruthless but human, financially cold-blooded yet artistically sensitive. That combination blended well with the strengths and weaknesses of Mark Twain, the artist and...

    • 43 Broken Twigs and Found Canoes
      (pp. 345-352)

      “I’m writing a review of Fenimore Cooper’s Deerslayer,” he told Livy on May 16, 1894, on his way back to England, “the most idiotic book I ever saw.” It is not entirely clear why Twain decided to target the work of James Fenimore Cooper, one of his literary forefathers, but “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses” became the most anthologized of all his writings. His comment to Livy that March about his expectations forJoan of Arc, after he had received so much praise forPudd’nhead Wilson, suggests he was worried about being known, or remembered, simply as a humorist. The essay...

    • 44 Back Home and Overland
      (pp. 353-359)

      In the fall of 1894 the Clemens family sublet a house from a friend in Paris on the Right Bank for $250 a month—in what is today the seventh arrondissement. Clemens later described the place at 169 rue de l’Université as “large, rambling, quaint, charmingly furnished and decorated, built upon no particular plan, delightfully uncertain and full of surprises.” It reminded Livy of their Hartford house, which she now longed to reoccupy after more than three years of living abroad. On their way from the Normandy coast, however, they had to stop a week in Rouen because Susy, perhaps...

    • 45 Lost in the British Empire
      (pp. 360-366)

      It is generally accepted in Mark Twain scholarship, and among ordinary readers as well, that the death of Sam’s eldest daughter in 1896 broke his spirit and turned him into a pessimist. What tends to be overlooked is that his work and his personality always had deep-seated elements of pessimism. Indeed, these elements exist in all serious thinkers. Even the optimistic Emerson, who also lost a favorite child shortly before he revealed the seeds of his darker thoughts in the essay “Experience,” had indicated the same doubt about a benevolent universe in an earlier work entitled “Circles.” In some cases,...

    • 46 Mark Twain’s Daughter
      (pp. 367-374)

      Olivia Susan Clemens died in the house in which she grew up. “Susy died athome,” Twain reminded Twichell, who had been on hand in Hartford when the end came. “She had that privilege.” That winter when Susy caught her cold, she also became restless and nervous, perhaps tired of the isolation of Quarry Farm in Elmira. She had been “commanded” by her singing teachers in Europe “to live on a hill, . . . valleys being forbidden—and gather vigor of body” so that she could “go back to Paris and prepare for the stage (opera).” Her voice, they...


    • 47 City of Dreams
      (pp. 377-383)

      In some ways, fin de siècle Vienna became the Clemens family’s sanctuary from the lingering horrors of Susy’s death. For one thing, Twain knew the Germanic culture better than most Americans and so, as America’s most famous living writer, fit easily and even comfortably into the social fabric of the city. Having lived for extended periods in Heidelberg, Bad Nauheim, Munich, Berlin, and Weggis, Switzerland, he could understand and speak some German, though still with considerable discomfort. This center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire offered many distractions from the family’s grief, although Twain in his letters and journals often wrote about...

    • 48 Winter Fantasies
      (pp. 384-391)

      “Yes, sir, thereisa Devil,” Twain told one of his “closest friends”; “but you must not speak disrespectfully of him, for he is an uncle of mine.”¹ “The Chronicle of Young Satan” is a dreamlike sequence of events. Little Satan tells the boys to call him Philip Traum, the surname being German for “dream.” It seems almost intentional that the narrative, like most dreams, remains a fragment, for Twain was writing a number of them in Vienna and even just before. They were lazy recollections of his childhood in Hannibal, which had now become invested with the supernatural. In...

    • 49 Weary Sojourners
      (pp. 392-398)

      Three months later—at century’s end—they began to get impatient with Kellgren. “Livy is discouraged—& properly—about Jean’s case,” Sam told Sue Crane. Although his daughter’s general health had clearly improved, “Livy considers that the treatment has done nothing with the disease. These peoplehavecured this disease,” he insisted. “We know this, or we should not meddle with it any longer; but we can’t find out when Jean’s cure is to begin, nor how many months or years it will take, for these idiots keep no record of their cases, & don’t know any more about the phases & stages...

    • 50 Exile’s Return
      (pp. 399-405)

      The America to which Mark Twain returned was changing as he stepped into the twentieth century. The old assumptions about principle and decency and an ordered universe were giving way ever so steadily to the pragmatic view of a relativistic universe in which the weaker members of the old Social Darwinist world were now seen as cosmic if not yet social victims. The first month of Twain’s homecoming saw the publication of Dreiser’sSister Carrie, a tale about commonplace people committing unprincipled acts and mostly getting away with it. Howells, who had encouraged other literary naturalists such as Stephen Crane...

    • 51 Homeless
      (pp. 406-414)

      While Sam was cavorting around the West Indies with Rogers, Livy bought a house with nineteen acres in Tarrytown, New York. She made the $45,000 purchase without consulting her husband, and the house wasn’t even big enough for their needs. This impulsive act underscored her sense of homelessness, which had been growing ever since they left their Hartford residence in 1891. The nuclear Clemens family, which had profoundly enjoyed the Nook Farm community of close friends and neighbors for nearly twenty years, had now been on the road for nearly a decade, going from hotel to rented house or villa...

    • 52 A Death in Florence
      (pp. 415-420)

      Howells was right. Mark Twain expected to live several more years abroad, most likely in Florence. After the two-week voyage on thePrincess Irenenearly exhausted Livy and set her back months in her recovery, it became clear that he would never return to America while his wife still lived. The passengers in their first-class accommodations had been “very noisy,” and Livy “got but little sleep.” No sooner had they reached Italy on November 5 and established themselves in the Villa Reale di Quarto than she suffered “a bad and disabling burn” from carbolic acid, commonly used then as an...

  10. Epilogue
    (pp. 421-432)

    Mark Twain also died that early June day. Samuel Clemens would live another six years. Unfortunately, it was as an old man lost in the twentieth century. “I am tired & old,” he told Howells, “I wish I were with Livy.” To his brother-in-law Charley, the person who had first introduced him to his wife of thirty-four years, Clemens described himself as “a man without a country. Wherever Livy was, that was my country. And now she is gone.” Clemens and his daughters returned to New York City on thePrince Oscarat the end of June and then to Elmira,...

  11. APPENDIX A. Clemens Genealogy
    (pp. 433-435)
  12. APPENDIX B. Books Published by Charles L. Webster & Company
    (pp. 436-440)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 441-478)
  14. Index
    (pp. 479-491)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 492-492)