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Carolyn Leutzinger Richey <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 22 Mar 2008 01:46:31 -0400
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Sharon,?thanks for the warm wishes and support.? I completely agree with you that mine and others' lack of participation may be from those insecure feelings, and I often think that Twain himself was like-minded in his insecurities.? I call it "Imposter Phenomenon" and think that?many of us?try not to be found out.? I think I may?once again hop off my fence occasionally to post a query or answer one.? 

Ultimately, I think all of this "raucus" has been a cathartic experience for me, and I hope for many others.? I very much admire all the Twain scholars and?lay people (like myself) on this List and would hope to continue to participate in the discussions and sharing of our love and knowledge of Twain.? 

That being said, I'm working on an idea regarding Twain and boyhood.? I'm basically, besides a Twain scholar, a children's literature scholar and have viewed Twain's writing from that point of view.? The focus of much of my studies has been?the idea regarding Twain and twins (Pudd'nhead Wilson's twins and then Tom and Huck) and?how they are basically reflective of the author's own dualistic feelings of identity as an American man.?I have an idea about Huck,?Tom,?and Twain, not only as Hemingway said,?that?Huck Finn?is the "best book we've had . . . [and] all American writing comes from that," but also that Twain shaped our American view of boyhood and manhood.? My study has begun with a look at Twain's "Story of a Bad Little Boy" and compare his prototype with the Victorian view of boyhood and manhood.? Tom and Huck, I would say, are twins of Twain and reflect his two sided persona and that two-sided American male (the?socialite or the rebel; the intellect?or the "he-man").?!
 ?If any of you have any ideas supporting or questioning this, I'd appreciate your thoughts. Or if you've written, or others have written, something related closely, or not so closely, I thank you for any input.

So, now that I've officially hopped off my fencepost, I hope that other "lurkers" (as my teenage daughter would call us) will come out of the shadows and participate.

Thank you ,Sharon, again for your kind words and proverbial kick in the pants.

Carolyn Leutzinger Richey

-----Original Message-----
From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Fri, 21 Mar 2008 8:47 pm
Subject: Re: Humble Observations

Dear Carolyn,
I'm not up to the Forum right now (sitting on my own fencepost) but I couldn't let this pass.? It breaks my heart to hear you say that you have chosen not to speak sometimes because of the elitism or the sniping on the forum.? I don't know if you find my own postings "scholarly enough"--not really sure what that means--but if you ever think that I'd be a help to you in your research, or it you just have some neat ideas you'd like to bounce around, on the forum or off, I hope that you will write. ? 

When I joined the forum, I was quiet for a very long time, and it took a lot of courage to make that first posting--it was like a bibliography come alive, and I was terrified of making the wrong move.? But I've never regretted it.? And, like you, I've been to Elmira and have been astonished and gratified by the support and collegiality.

And somewhat taken aback by the ego-bruising that seems to go on.? But I've found that a lot of the apparent "elitism" comes from a concern that one's own work is being ignored, or that others don't find it "scholarly enough" or "important enough"--in other words, from some deep insecurities.? I find that if I listen to what a person is working on, I learn a lot--and then they're willing to answer any question I might have. 

My point is, these are insecurities I think we all share--whether we react to it by becoming silent, acting as an all-knowing authority, blustering hurtful expletives simply to get the attention we crave, or by continuing on with the work regardless of our insecurities, because the work has us by the heart and won't let go....

While Twain's nature and the satire he reveled in might encourage the bifurcation among his fans who focus on different things, as you cogently suggest below, he also inspires us to lead with the heart.

Carry on with the work and follow your heart.? Don't worry about what someone might say--care enough to pursue it with rigor and passion, and if someone might have information for you or a direction for you, then dog their footsteps.? The work matters.? You matter.

And anyone who says different needs to play the king's role in the Royal Nonesuch for a few nights in a rough Arkansas town.

Those are my humble observations.

Warm regards,
Sharon McCoy

-------------- Original message from Carolyn Leutzinger Richey <[log in to unmask]>: -------------- 

> My apologies, for some reason the translation from my computer and post was 
> inundated with question marks and with reappearance of some deleted words.? I'm 
> really not that poor of an editor. 
> -----Original Message----- 
> From: Carolyn Leutzinger Richey 
> To: [log in to unmask] 
> Sent: Fri, 21 Mar 2008 12:54 pm 
> Subject: Humble Observations 
> I have for a long time been a member of this List and have, in the past, 
> participated in the wonderful conversations about Twain.? Early on, I was very 
> willing to respond to other's comments and postings and to initiate my own.? 
> However, as the years have gone by, I feel somewhat intimidated that my posts 
> will not sound "scholarly" enough.? I am a college Lecturer/teacher; I shy away 
> from calling myself "professor" as I have only an MA---But, I have been teaching 
> Twain to my?university students regularly since 1992.? I have participated in 
> several of the conferences held in Elmira and thoroughly enjoyed the collegial 
> discussions.? I have written several book reviews for the forum and for other 
> publications, but I have not written any books on Twain.? I have only written my 
> MA thesis on my favorite writer and fellow Missourian.? (I'm currently working 
> on a review--the first in almost a decade for the forum--on a new book from Kent 
> Rasmusson, How to Write about Mark Twain.)? A! 
> s I am preparing my review of the book that I truly appreciate and find useful, 
> I am feeling that connection I always feel toward Twain and fellow "Twainiacs." 
> That brings me to the purpose of my post.? Can I agree with both of the sides of 
> this ongoing debate? Can I straddle the fence?? I very much admire Jocelyn 
> Chadwick and remember meeting her at one of the conferences in Elmira.?I do not 
> wish to see her remove herself from the List. ?I have met many of the rest of 
> you and admire your work also.? I do not want to see any of you remove 
> yourselves from the List.?I was just the other day wondering where Camy was.?? 
> I remember, as a grad student, presenting my paper to the participants of the 
> Elmira conference and feeling in awe of many of you.? After all, I had used much 
> of your scholarship in my research and writing (and the papers I presented).? 
> However, I have also felt a certain, how should I put it,?"elitism" regarding 
> Twain and Twain scholarship.? I would love to ask many of you questions and get 
> some direction in my research.? But because of the reactions to some posts and 
> posters, I am reticent to do so.? I am not referring to either side of this 
> debate, but to both sides of the debate.? One side likes to be provocative and 
> incite "trouble," while the other side likes to sound like the supreme 
> authorities.?And both sides resort to name calling. ?I like it here on my 
> fencepost.? I guess I am like the "suckered" audience of the Royal Nonesuch, who 
> want to see how many others get suckered into the debate.? Or perhaps I am like 
> Pudd'nhead Wilson, I wish I owned half of the barking ! 
> dog because I'd shoot my half.?But then, we would not have this wonderful 
> collective source on Twain.? I guess my point of all this is to say that perhaps 
> this debate and bifurcation is just a reflection of the author himself.? I think 
> he would actively participate in both sides of this debate.?? 
> I am submitting this, not to drag on this "discussion," but hesitantly to offer 
> my humble?opinion. hesitation, 
> Carolyn Leutzinger Richey 
> Lecturer, San Diego State University