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Barbara Schmidt <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 15 Feb 2024 08:39:28 -0600
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I wrote a short thumbnail bio of Neider for Ebsco years ago covering his
background, career, and work on Mark Twain -- his Twain AUTOBIOGRAHY was
named one of the 100 best nonfiction English language books of the 20th
century by Modern Library in 1999. Here is my article:


Charles Neider was born in Odessa, Russia in 1915, the son of Colya Neider,
a Jewish banker and his wife Olga. When Neider was about six years old, the
family fled Russia amid political anti-Jewish upheaval. With assistance
from relatives who had earlier immigrated to the United States, the family
made their way to Paris and from there sailed to America. Neider would
later tell friends that his paternal grandparents who had remained in
Russia were killed in an anti-Jewish massacre.

By 1930 the family had settled in Virginia. The 1930 census for Henrico
County, Richmond City, Virginia indicates Colya had changed his name to
Charles and was the proprietor of a grocery story. Olga, also known as
"Goldie," worked as a grocery store clerk. Olga's father Edel Hornstein
lived with the family but had not yet learned to speak the English
language. Young Charles's name is listed in the 1930 census as Isadore, a
name he never used in his professional career.

Neider attended John Marshall High School in Richmond, Virginia. In 1931,
another native of Virginia, famous polar explorer Admiral Richard E. Byrd,
visited Richmond. Neider, who was a member of the Boy Scouts, met Byrd. It
was the beginning of his lifelong fascination with the continent of

When the Neider family's grocery business in Richmond failed during the
depression, the family relocated to New York City. Neider attended City
College of New York and graduated in 1938 with a degree in Liberal Arts.
While at the College he helped establish the City College Literary Club.

Neider's lifelong career would be one of a freelance writer and editor. In
the 1940s he was contributing book reviews and commentary to such magazines
and newspapers as *New Republic*, *Nation*, *New Yorker* and *The* *New
York Times*. For a short time he helped edit *Decision* magazine, which was
founded by Klaus Mann, son of Thomas Mann who had won the 1929 Nobel prize
in literature. Neider's earliest anthology of commentary and criticism was *The
Stature of Thomas Mann *published in 1947.

Neider's first marriage to Vivian Breslau, a translator for Thomas Mann,
ended in divorce and in 1952 Neider married Joan Merrick, a Thomas Mann
scholar and graduate of Vassar College and Columbia University. The couple
had one daughter Susan.

Throughout the 1950s Neider edited a number of anthologies for Harper and
Brothers. In 1954 Neider published his first novel *The White Citadel *which
featured parallels to his own family's immigration from Akkerman, Russia
where Neider had lived as a child.

In 1956 Neider's novel of the old west, *The Authentic Death of Hendry
Jones,* was published. In 1961 the novel was adapted into a film titled
"One-Eyed Jacks" starring Marlon Brando who also produced and directed the

Neider first encountered the writings of Mark Twain while studying
background material for *The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones*. Dismayed by
his inability to locate hard-to-find stories and essays written by Twain,
Neider decided to compile his own anthology titled *The Complete Stories of
Mark Twain*, which was published in 1957. Neider continued collecting Twain
material and wrote additional anthologies of Twain's tales, speeches,
essays, and letters. Neider also edited *The Autobiography of Mark Twain*
in 1959, which published material not used by Twain's official biographer
Albert Bigelow Paine. Neider's edition contained over 30,000 words of new
material from Twain's previously unpublished autobiographical manuscript.
In 1999 Modern Library named it one of the 100 best nonfiction English
language books of the 20th century.

Between 1969 and 1977 Neider traveled to Antarctica three times. With
funding from a wide variety of grants and fellowships including the
National Science Foundation, the United States Navy, National Endowment for
the Humanities, Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at
Stanford University, and many others, Neider completed two books on
Antarctica and one novel based on his own near-death experience from a 1971
helicopter crash there. His 1974 *Edge of the World: Ross Island,
Antarctica; a Personal and Historical Narrative* remains one of the best
accounts ever written about the polar continent.

Charles Neider died July 4, 2001 in Princeton, New Jersey. His
autobiographical *Adam's Burden: An Explorer's Personal Odyssey Through
Prostate Cancer *was published shortly after his death.

Neider's success in popularizing the works of Mark Twain and his writings
on Antarctica, while widely diverse in subject matter, are his best known
contributions to American literature.

On Thu, Feb 15, 2024 at 8:01 AM <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Aw heck. I thought Ben was talking about me and I took it as a
> compliment.
> Kevin
> @
> Mac Donnell Rare Books
> 9307 Glenlake Drive
> Austin TX 78730
> 512-345-4139
> You can browse our books at:
> ------ Original Message ------
> From: "Matt Seybold" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: 2/14/2024 10:23:19 PM
> Subject: Re: Charles Neider, editorial reputation?
> >I might grade Neider a mite higher than Kevin & Ben do, but if you think
> (as I do) that the Cold War era propagandizing of Twain has been a net
> negative for both Twain scholarship & Twain’s reputation, Neider has to be
> at the top of the list of Twain scholars who were complicit in that
> propagandizing, if not necessarily driving it. - MS
> >
> >>  On Feb 14, 2024, at 11:15 PM, Benjamin Griffin <
> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >>
> >>  A conscienceless plunderer.
> >>
> >>
> >>>  On Wed, Feb 14, 2024 at 1:16 PM <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>  Well, you caught me in a good mood, the weather clear, my hopes
> bright,
> >>>  birds chirping nearby, and feeling more charitable than I've felt in
> >>>  months. So, you might have to factor this in when I grade Mr. Neider
> on
> >>>  a curve, but I'd give him an F.
> >>>
> >>>  That's his grade as an editor. As for popularizing Twain, he seemed
> >>>  quite good at PR, either promoting himself or Twain.
> >>>
> >>>  Kevin
> >>>  @
> >>>  Mac Donnell Rare Books
> >>>  9307 Glenlake Drive
> >>>  Austin TX 78730
> >>>  512-345-4139
> >>>
> >>>  You can browse our books at:
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>  ------ Original Message ------
> >>>  From: "Dave Davis" <[log in to unmask]>
> >>>  To: [log in to unmask]
> >>>  Sent: 2/14/2024 10:04:40 AM
> >>>  Subject: Charles Neider, editorial reputation?
> >>>
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>>>
> >>>>  I'm reading in this version, while I wait for my Library of American
> >>>  volume
> >>>>  to come in the mail.
> >>>>  In it, Neider took the liberty of excising Warner's chapters, leaving
> >>>>  SLC's, and explained why he thought that was a good idea. Apparently
> >>>>  Doubleday (the publishers) thought so as well. I guess there was
> market
> >>>>  demand for 'new' Twain works in the American book market at the time.
> >>>>
> >>>>  What is anyone's view of Neider's editorial work on MT, nowadays? He
> got
> >>>>  out several volumes of Twain material -- (see list below) --the
> stuff that
> >>>>  was on the shelves when I first wandered into my Jr. High School
> library
> >>>  in
> >>>>  the late 60's. I read and enjoyed his edition of the Autobiography,
> which
> >>>>  included some previously unpublished chapters and excellent period
> >>>>  photographs, including the "rocking chair" series which SLC
> annotated.
> >>>>
> >>>>  Like Holbrook, Neider did a lot of this Twain-related work during
> the last
> >>>>  decade of  Clara Clemens's life and tenure of the Estate.
> >>>>
> >>>>  From Wikipedia--
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>  "Neider edited a major edition of the Autobiography of Mark Twain,
> >>>>  published in 1959. In this, he expressed regret that Twain's daughter
> >>>  Clara
> >>>>  Clemens would not permit him to include Samuel Clemens' dictations
> from
> >>>>  June 1906 (the 19th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd, and 25th).[6]
> >>>>
> >>>>  "Other Mark Twain Publications he edited include:
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>    - The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain (1957)
> >>>>    - The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1959)
> >>>>    - The Complete Humorous Sketches and Tales of Mark Twain (1961)
> >>>>    - Mark Twain: Life As I Find It (1961)
> >>>>    - The Travels of Mark Twain (1961)
> >>>>    - Complete Essays of Mark Twain (1963)
> >>>>    - The Adventures of Colonel Sellers (1965)
> >>>>    - The Complete Travel Books of Mark Twain (1966)
> >>>>    - Mark Twain (1967)
> >>>>    - The Comic Mark Twain Reader (1977)
> >>>>    - The Selected Letters of Mark Twain (1972)
> >>>>    - A Tramp Abroad (1977)
> >>>>    - Plymouth Rock and the Pilgrims and Other Salutary Platform
> Opinions
> >>>>    (1984)
> >>>>    - Papa: An Intimate Biography of Mark Twain by Susy Clemens (1985)
> >>>>    - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1985)
> >>>>    - Mark Twain at His Best: A Comprehensive Sampler (1986)
> >>>>    - The Outrageous Mark Twain (1987)."
> >>>>
> >>>>  (The ones in that listing that were authored entirely by Neider, I
> don't
> >>>>  know anything about.)
> >>>>
> >>>>  Thoughts?  /DDD
> >>>