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Mark Twain and the Community

Mark Twain and the Community

Thomas Blues
Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 96
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  • Book Info
    Mark Twain and the Community
    Book Description:

    Throughout his career Mark Twain viewed the relations between the individual and his community with mixed feelings, and this book explores both the ambiguities of Twain's attitude and their effect upon his fiction. In the earlier novels -- most notablyThe Adventures of Tom SawyerandHuckleberry Finn-- the protagonist enjoys a dual position -- at liberty to follow his own inclinations while retaining his conventional place as a respected member of the community -- and the resolutions of these works are built upon this duality. Facing realities which the earlier fiction evaded, Twain inA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Courtfound himself in a dilemma that he was unable to resolve: the community was no longer seen as a moral refuge and, most importantly, the individual was no longer seen as superior to the community standards against which he revolted. Thomas Blues contends that Twain's failure to reconcile this opposition largely accounts for the bitter, cynical fiction at the close of his career, and through use of the individual-community relationship he offers here fresh interpretations of Twain's most widely read novels.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6215-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER ONE The Strategy of Compromise
    (pp. 1-26)

    The central characters of the four novels written prior toA Connecticut Yankee-The Gilded Age(1873),The Adventures of Tom Sawyer(1876),The Prince and The Pauper(1882), andAdventures of Huckleberry Finn(1885)–attempt to triumph over the community, endangering in the process not only its welfare but their own as well. This is not to suggest, however, that Mark Twain was unsympathetic to his protagonists, whose efforts connote wit, daring, and a healthy urge to free oneself from the community’s restrictions. But each novel reveals Mark Twain’s concerned awareness that self-realization at the expense of the community’s stability...

  5. CHAPTER TWO A Connecticut Yankee: “Ah, What a Donkey I Was!”
    (pp. 27-54)

    TheAtlantic Monthlyin 1875 published Mark Twain’s Mississippi reminiscences. Looking back from the landlocked perspective of middle age, he created the figure of the cub pilot, the feckless but sympathetic “boy,” prototype of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. But Mark Twain himself was twenty-one years old when he commenced his river apprenticeship, and the image he constructs of the mature pilot in “Old Times on the Mississippi” is not so much wistful hyperbole as the epitome of an image of manhood he had cherished throughout his career as pilot, fortune hunter, and journalist in the 1850’s and 1860’s. “A...

  6. CHAPTER THREE The Yankee as Old Man
    (pp. 55-78)

    It may seem strange that the man whose energies were directed to transforming the medieval world is now so closely identified with it. But with one critical difference the end ofA Connecticut Yankeeis consistent with the pattern of Mark Twain’s previous novels, that is, the restoration of the individual to the community he had attempted to dominate. The difference is that Hank Morgan cannot take refuge in a real community, but in an illusion that brings him a small measure of peace. Nevertheless, the illusion does not erase the fact that he is in the end a stranger,...

  7. NOTES
    (pp. 79-82)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 83-84)