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Twain Center <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 28 Sep 2007 09:50:14 -0400
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The Center for Mark Twain Studies is pleased to announce the posting of
the following audio file:

Mark Twain's Annus Horribilis of 1908
Laura Skandera Trombley; President, Pitzer College
Presented at Quarry Farm, September 19th, 2007

Since the early days of Twain biography there have been great debates
about the nature of Samuel Clemens' final years.  Scholars have
speculated whether Clemens' last decade was ruled by a growing
misanthropy or if he retained his keen sense of humor and social
commentary.  The era of Mark Twain scholarship began when Clemens' last
decade was first examined in depth by Hamlin Hill in his Mark Twain:
God's Fool (1973).   Hill created a furor in Twain circles with his
portrayal of Clemens as a misguided King Lear spewing bitterness and
alienating those closest to him with the exception of the few sycophants
able to weather his storms.  Hill's work was groundbreaking and Twain
critics have reacted to it, positively and negatively, ever since.  Most
recently Karen Lystra has argued in Dangerous Intimacy (2004) that Hill
erred in his characterization about the bleakness of Clemens' last years
and that this "myth" should be put to rest. In Lystra's view, Clemens'
optimism and wit remained intact until the end.  As interesting as these
diametrically opposed and impassioned arguments have been, what has
misinformed them is that to date no one has ever determined what
actually happened during Clemens' annus horribilis of 1908-1909.

To access the audio file, go to: