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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 22 Feb 2003 14:07:28 -0500
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Jim Zwick <[log in to unmask]>
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On 22 Feb 2003 at 10:17, Peter Heck wrote:

> Except he couldn't have said it in 1916. Is this a misattribution, or a
> 1916 recycling of something earlier?

It is from the end of chapter 9 of the 1916 edition of The
Mysterious Stranger.  This is online at:

That section was also reprinted from the Mysterious Stranger
Manuscripts as "Dishonorble War" in Frederick Anderson's _A
Pen Warmed-up in Hell: Mark Twain in Protest_ (Harper & Row,
1972), 41-43.  I haven't compared them word for word to see if
the passage in the 1916 edition is accurate.  Read Anderson's
version if you have it.

On 22 Feb 2003 at 9:39, Jason Horn wrote:

>      So Twain can be used in various ways to bolster our opinions on
> war--or anything.  But it is sort of like those who used God to
> support their actions in The War Prayer--highly questionable.

That is often the case.  What interests me about uses of his
writings on the subject, though, is that we have not always been
able to quote them.  By way of a short summary:

Some of Twain's anti-imperialist writings and other social
criticism were suppressed by either himself or his publisher
during his lifetime, and they were heavily censored by Albert
Bigelow Paine after he died.  Many were not reprinted in the
United States until the early 1960s after literary critics in the
Soviet Union charged that Twain was being systematically
censored.  Even books like Janet Smith's _Mark Twain on the
Damned Human Race_, Maxwell Geismar's _Mark Twain and
the R's: Race, Religion, Revolution and Related Matters_, and
Charles Neider's _Complete Essays of Mark Twain_ continued
to reproduce censored versions of important anti-imperialist
texts like "To the Person Sitting in Darkness," "As Regards
Patriotism," and others.  Still, the publication of those books in
response to Soviet critics, and of _Letters from the Earth_
around the time of Clara's death, made many texts available to
opponents of the war in Vietnam that were not available earlier.
Since then, they have been used to oppose various other
military interventions and wars, including the proxy war by the
Contras against Nicaragua and the first Gulf War.

I reviewed that history in a recent book chapter on "Mark Twain's
Anti-Imperialist Writings in the 'American Century,'" in _Vestiges
of War: The Philippine-American War and the Aftermath of an
Imperial Dream, 1899-1999_, ed. Angel Velasco Shaw and Luis
H. Francia (NYU Press, 2002).

I'm interested in how Twain's writings are used during this
conflict because I think it's a new situation.  We seem to be at
the beginning of an era that might very quickly become as
repressive as the worst periods of the Cold War.  Consider, for
example, the concerns raised in the American Studies
Association's statement on "Intellectual Freedom in a Time of

(You may have to cut and paste that URL if it wraps in your
email reader.)

This is a new era of war and dissent that is different from the
Cold War or the decade or so that followed it.  In what ways will
people find Twain relevant in this new situation?

The social history of Twain's anti-imperialist writings might also
be interesting for Twain scholars and others to consider in light
of the current threats to intellectual freedom for another reason.
We can look at what happened to Twain's writings during the
20th century to get some idea of what's possible during the
current situation.  For example, with many people throughout the
world now charging that the United States is an imperialist
country, are we heading into another period when use of the
word "imperialism" will brand someone as "anti-American"?  Will
Twain's writings on the subject disappear from literature
anthologies created for classroom use?  Will someone challenge
NEH funding for a Mark Twain Project edition of Twain's later
writings by charging that they are "anti-American"? etc., etc.  We
are already seeing pressures in that direction and I guess that
how we respond to them will shape the social history of this era.

Jim Zwick