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Margaret S Wherry <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 29 Apr 1995 16:08:16 -0500
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As a Howellsian who reads TWAIN-L primarily for glimpses of The Dean, I
am glad to see references to Howells' defense of the Haymarket
anarchists.  No doubt more recent Twain scholarship can cast additional
light on Twain's position, but I offer this in the meantime.  In the
_Mark Twain-Howells Letters_, Gibson and Smith note that "There is no
direct evidence that Clemens shared Howells's intense concern with the
fate of the anarchists, though in March 1888 he received from Howells and
presumably read pamphlets about the trial.  . . . .  Clemens may have
shared Howells's indignation if not his surprise over the condemnation
and execution of four of the eight defendants in a mood of national
hysteria" (p. 581).

Howells' courageous and solitary protest of the execution of the
anarchists remains one of the best arguments for reassessment of his
career, although the quality of his work in both criticism and fiction
needs no merely political support.

Peg Wherry
Kansas State Univ.