The flames over Kaplan's biography should come as no surprise to those on
this LIST the last time: i.e. In April 1997, as I recall, when Andy Hoffman
published his book. There were a few other issues at stake for the intrigue
back then (such as sexuality). This time it appears to focus on such deeply
important matters as proofreading and indexing, among others. By
comparison, the issues this time seem rather tame.
For what it is worth: Kaplan's book is a terrific read and I wish I had
written it. (I would not have minded writing Hoffman's book either,
although there are about 5 or 6 pages I would have cut out.) Whatever minor
mistakes appear in Kaplan's book are greatly offset by the narrative, driven
largely by primary documents and many heretofore unpublished information.
PS: as far as Kaplan 2 rejecting Kaplan 1's fixation on the so-called
"divided Twain" thesis (now going on 80 years old): isn't it about time we
all think about retiring this grand old dinosaur that today, in the dawn of
a new century, seems vaguely stale and much more reflective of old Freudian
models of biography? Personally, I second Kaplan's questioning, and
abandoning, of this old model, and treating Mark Twain as a "singluar" human
Harold K. Bush, Jr.
Saint Louis University