Thanks for your reply, David.
My interpretation of Twain's positions toward society in his youth
and middle years has me to believe that although he was often deeply
effected and decidedly outspoken, he also maintained something of an
idealist's perspective about many issues. I think perhaps he felt
that he could help society by pointing out the worms in the apple.
I believe that the formation of cynicism typically begins from just
such an idealistic youthful perception of life and its challenges.
Over time setbacks accumulate, and at the end the cynic more-or-less
accepts the futility of the situation and here the slippery slope
becomes ever steeper. What happened to Twain happens to a lot of
people, in his case we just happen to be able to peek through the
peephole at his personal life while reading his texts at the same
time. I would also have to add that his increasingly large public
persona probably put a lot more pressure on Twain than most anyone
Also problematic to any discussion about cynicism is that the term is
interpreted and employed in different ways. And I certainly would not
consider Twain to be a modern Diogenes. Perhaps at the end but
certainly not throughout his life-span. I would be interested in
hearing your views about this, and would be happy to send you my
paper on between-cynicism offline. Twain's in there...
I find your comment about the study of Twain being oriented toward
literary types quite interesting. I am conducting a sociological
investigation of Twain's life and times, and I certainly do not know
that much about literary theory. I wonder if this spells trouble ahead.