I can't imagine that Em didn't appreciate Twain since in so many ways they travel the same literary track. Her fly poem mocks the tradition of "the gates ajar" even before Phelps penned the book that Twain so loved to burlesque. And wouldn't ED have enjoyed the morbid sensibility of "Aurelia's Unfortunate Young Man?" It includes a line that would have suited Emily to a "T": "She felt that the field of her affections was growing more circumscribed every day." The descriptions of the Paris morgue, the catacombs, and the Capuchin monastery in _Innocents_ are perfect echoes of many of Em's sentiments: "Here was a spectacle for sensitive nerves! Evidently, the old masters had been at work in this place. There were six divisions in the apartment, and each divsion was ornament with a style of decoration peculiar to itself--and these decorations were in every instance formed of human bones! . . . This business-like way of illustrating a touching story of the heart by laying th
e several fragments of the lover before us and naming them, was as grotesque a performance as any I every witnessed." Isn't this a perfect illustration of "I died for beauty"? Or perhaps Dickininson wrote "Ourselves we do inter" after reading this section of _IA_.
She would have given her left eye to learn of poor Miss Wagner in the Old Ram story from _Roughing It_.
And beyond the morbid humor the two shared, they had an interestingly ironic relationship with Christianity. Couldn't the line "Boys that `believe' are very lonesome" (from "The Bible is an Antique Volume") be Twain's? It almost is: "Be good and you'll be lonesome." And doesn't the poem "Faith is a fine invention/When Gentlemen can _see_--/But _Microscopes_ are prudent/In an Emergency" have the MT touch?
----- Original Message -----
From: Kevin Mac Donnell <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Monday, August 9, 2010 6:42 am
Subject: Re: Sam 'n' Em
To: [log in to unmask]
> I do have a vague recollection from my readings that he did visit
> but you'd have to check Rasmussen's 2v guide, or one of the two
> books, or the 3v Notebooks, or the Years & Hours of ED 3v edition, or
> more recent Complete MT Interviews to look for possible dates and events.
> ED did get out now and then (to Boston and Philadelphia for example)
> but she
> rarely bothered to saunter next door when famous people visited her
> Austin. I think R W Emerson visited once but she stayed home. She
> could see
> the nearby graveyard from an upstairs window and gazing on headstones
> probably more entertaining to her. And when that got dull, there was
> listening to the clock tic-toc, and the flies buzz.
> Mac Donnell Rare Books
> 9307 Glenlake Drive
> Austin TX 78730
> Member: ABAA, ILAB
> You may browse our books at
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Ben Wise" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Sunday, August 08, 2010 7:14 PM
> Subject: Re: Sam 'n' Em
> > Well, one other thought (which may have been considered and dismissed
> > without comment in Kevin's answer):
> > did Twain make any public appearances in the
> > Amherst/Northampton/Springfield area during ED's lifetime, and if so,
> > wasn't he famous enough that she would have at least been aware of
> > that (attending would have been a more problematic matter, I
> > suppose). Again, this may just reflect my ignorance of Twain's
> > touring career, but if there's an easy answer, I'd appreciate it.
> > Thanks.
> > Ben
> > Thanks, Kevin. I thought it might be a worth while question, but
> > didn't expect such a thoroughly researched and thoughtful answer.
> > Sounds like it must be the last word on the subject (except for the
> > cliff-hanger at the end!)
> > Thanks again.
> > Ben
> >>See Gribben p 193 for evidence that Twain at least knew of her,
> >>may not have read her works. He knew what her home looked like and
> >>quoted one of her poems to Twain in a letter. Twain would not have
> >>her during her own lifetime through Higginson since he and
> Higginson did
> >>meet until 1905. He did knew both Wadsworth and Bowles during her
> >>but the circumstances of their encounters don't suggest she would
> >>a topic of conversation. In 1876 Twain acquired a copy of Higgisnon's
> >>ATLANTIC ESSAYS (1871) which included his famous "Letter to a Young
> >>Contributor" which had prompted ED to contact him for his opinion
> of her
> >>poetry (there is no mention of ED in this book, of course). Twain
> did mark
> >>up that particular essay (I own Twain's copy). ED claimed to have
> >>one of Higginson's essays in the Atlantic Monthly and her father
> was a
> >>charter subscriber, so it's fair to assume that she would have continued
> >>reading that magazine until her death in 1886, and if that's true
> than she
> >>would have seen Twain's pieces in that magazine published before
> that date
> >>(A True Story, Old Times on the Mississippi, etc). Her library and
> >>are at Harvard, but I have no idea if it includes any Twain
> volumes, or
> >>dog-earred copies of Atlantic Monthly. Even if it contains none of
> >>own books, it could easily include volumes that contain Twain
> >>Twain did not own any of her collections of poetry, and so far as I
> >>tell, he owned no poetry anthologies that included her work (there
> >>few such volumes published between 1878 amd 1910). So, it looks
> >>gave the full extent of Twain's awareness of her when he published
> >>on Mark Twain's Library in 1980. The question remains whether she knew
> >>Twain's work, and the answer may be on a shelf at Harvard
> >>Mac Donnell Rare Books
> >>9307 Glenlake Drive
> >>Austin TX 78730
> >>Member: ABAA, ILAB
> >>You may browse our books at
> >>----- Original Message -----
> >>From: "Ben Wise" <[log in to unmask]>
> >>To: <[log in to unmask]>
> >>Sent: Sunday, August 08, 2010 12:10 PM
> >>Subject: Sam 'n' Em
> >>> Now that the suspense is finally over, a related question occurs
> >>> me: what do we know about what they might have known of each other?
> >>> Did either of them ever mention the other, or have the other
> >>> mentioned to them personally by someone else, or own any of their
> >>> books?
> >>> From a curious but non-scholarly fan of both.
> >>> Ben
> >>>>We have a winner! They sent their answers to me privately and
> I've asked
> >>>>permission to post their reply to the list. Otherwise I'll post
> their =
> >>>>answers without attribution. That was fast --less time than it
> took me =
> >>>>to kill and poetize that fly.
> >>>>In the meantime, I still have extra copies of all three prize
> books, so
> >>>>I'll extend the offer of a prize to the second person to
> identify all =
> >>>>three mutual friends of Twain and Emily Dickinson. Please post
> your =
> >>>>answers to the list.=20
> >>>>Mac Donnell Rare Books
> >>>>9307 Glenlake Drive
> >>>>Austin TX 78730
> >>>>Member: ABAA, ILAB
> >>>>You may browse our books at=20
> >> >
> >>No virus found in this incoming message.
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> > --
> > .................................................................................................................................................
> > Benjamin N. Wise, Ph.D. Home Phone: 603-256-8350
> > Professor Emeritus Fax: 603-358-2897
> > Keene State College [log in to unmask]
> > Keene, NH 03435-2001
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