TWAIN-L Archives

Mark Twain Forum


Options: Use Forum View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
"Kevin. Mac Donnell" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 4 Apr 2006 11:32:03 -0500
text/plain (29 lines)
Twain's letter praising Whitman was first published in CAMDEN'S COMPLIMENT
TO WALT WHITMAN (1889) at pp. 64-5. Twain was unable to attend the dinner,
but his letter was read aloud along with other "letters of regret." This
book is not recorded by BAL in the Twain section, but Merle Johnson noted
it. I have a small archive relating to this dinner, but it does not include
Twain's letter.

Twain had access to at least two copies of LEAVES OF GRASS-- a copy of the
1900 edition which ended up with his maid Kate Leary (noted by Gribben, MARK
TWAIN'S LIBRARY, p 764), and a heavily annotated copy of the 1908 edition
inscribed by his daughter Clara with her maiden name (before she married
Ossip). The annotations seem to be Clara's, with the possible exception of a
few parallel double-lines in a few margins that could be Twain's. But I
think it more likely they are Clara's, even though she used a single curved
or straight marginal line most of the time. I own this copy.

While Twain could have encountered Whitman's writings in the 1850s or 60s,
it seems most likely that he would have seen them by the time he visited
England in 1872 and 1873. Hotten had published Whitman's poems in 1868, and
Twain owned quite a few of Hotten's publications from this period (despite
the fact that he hated Hottentot for pirating his own writings).

So, while the surviving evidence does not put a copy of LEAVES OF GRASS in
Twain's hands until his last ten years, he was clearly familiar with
Whitman's writings, and admired them, and was not afraid to say so.

Kevin Mac Donnell
Austin TX