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Carolyn Leutzinger Richey <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 22 Mar 2008 13:28:13 -0400
text/plain (262 lines)

Thanks for the kind remarks.? And don't say you are a "mere" high school teacher.? I used to be one and find it much more difficult than college teaching.? Before I earned my MA, I was substitute teaching and I called it combat duty, especially in the junior highs.? For me, it was heaven to teach the university students.? 

Regarding the twins and Twain, I wrote my Master's thesis on this (called it Extraordinary Twins) and have mainly looked at the idea of the boy characters being mirrored images of the two sides of the author.? And I do go into the fact that Thomas means twin, and you have Twain, etc.? In nearly all of his texts, Twain provides doubled characters, usually boys.? In my thesis I looked at Tom and Huck (and each of their books)as the prototypes and then I looked at Pudd'nhead Wilson, The Prince and the Pauper, and The Mysterious Stranger.? I also included some short stories.? I like your idea of the father figures.? When I teach Huck Finn, I always have the students explore Pap and Jim as father figures.? This ties in nicely with the race aspect and the verification of Jim's humanity and Pap's lack of humanity.? 

Any way, I need to work on that review, which should be ready in a couple of weeks.? I also have some other reviews on the forum, mainly regarding children's lit.? I'd love for you to send me your paper.? I really am looking for sources to coroborate my ideas about Twain shaping the character(s) of the American boy.? 


-----Original Message-----
From: L. Dan Walker <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sat, 22 Mar 2008 7:30 am
Subject: Re: New directions

Ms. Richey:
As mere high school teacher, I'm fascinated by your idea of Huck and Tom as 
twin Twains (interesting name he picked!)  For what it's worth I found MT's 
treatment of the father and mother figures in Huck very interesting.  The 
respectable ones, like Judge Thatcher and Col.Grangerford, seem not subjected to 

ridicule (I detect no subtext of mockery in descriptions of the Colonel, even 
morning toast, but instead ultimately a tragic effect). But the ones he IS 
close to--Pap and the Duke and King--are much less gently treated. Maybe that's 
the sort of bifurcation you were talking about?  The mother-figure women 
(except Miss Watson, who is mostly harmless, at least to Tom and Huck) are 
respectable and benevolent--the Widow, Aunt Sally, Mrs. Loftus--as are a 
whole slew (slough? sloo? slue?) of Beautiful and Proud Young Women, like Mary 
Jane Wilkes and the Grangerford girl, on whom Huck seems to have innocent 
Anyway I can't wait to read something by you. I once wrote an essay on Huck 
Finn and America's Symbolic Landscape" for Virginia English Bulletin, Winter 
1986--I'd be happy to send it to you. I'm not sure if I still agree with 
everything I said there. I was young and irresponsible...
Dan Walker
Commonwealth Governor's School

In a message dated 3/22/2008 8:45:12 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
[log in to unmask] writes:

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 
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 

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 
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 
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 
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.? 
> 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 
> willing to respond to other's comments and postings and to initiate my 
> However, as the years have gone by, I feel somewhat intimidated that my 
> will not sound "scholarly" enough.? I am a college Lecturer/teacher; I shy 
> from calling myself "professor" as I have only an MA---But, I have been 
> Twain to my?university students regularly since 1992.? I have participated 
> several of the conferences held in Elmira and thoroughly enjoyed the 
> discussions.? I have written several book reviews for the forum and for 
> 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 
> on a review--the first in almost a decade for the forum--on a new book from 
> Rasmusson, How to Write about Mark Twain.)? A! 
> s I am preparing my review of the book that I truly appreciate and find 
> I am feeling that connection I always feel toward Twain and fellow 
> 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 
> wish to see her remove herself from the List. ?I have met many of the rest 
> 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 
> I remember, as a grad student, presenting my paper to the participants of 
> Elmira conference and feeling in awe of many of you.? After all, I had used 
> of your scholarship in my research and writing (and the papers I 
> However, I have also felt a certain, how should I put it,?"elitism" 
> Twain and Twain scholarship.? I would love to ask many of you questions and 
> some direction in my research.? But because of the reactions to some posts 
> 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 
> 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 
> 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 
> this debate and bifurcation is just a reflection of the author himself.? I 
> he would actively participate in both sides of this debate.?? 
> I am submitting this, not to drag on this "discussion," but hesitantly to 
> my humble?opinion. hesitation, 
> Carolyn Leutzinger Richey 
> Lecturer, San Diego State University 

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