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James Caron <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:35:27 -1000
text/plain (160 lines)
If Alf Doten did not talk much about SLC in his diaries, on two occasions
he did in print.

The Nevada Magazine, vol. I, nos. 2 & 3, 1899, each features Doten writing
about "Early Journalism in Nevada."

Part one features Doten telling a tale about his meeting Sam at a new
mining town, Como, which was then gaining some fame because of "many fine
looking quartz ledges."

Doten says he was not only writing for the Virginia City Daily Union at the
time, but also for the Como Sentinel. Sam was sent by the Enterprise to
examine the area and write it up.  Doten says that Sam was there about two
weeks, "making himself a popular favorite," but not examining the ledges.
Doten offered to take him to one spot that would afford a wide view of the
terrain, give him the names of the ledges, and generally help in the
assignment.  When Doten says that the spot is half a mile away, he says Sam
turns hims down.."I'm too derned lazy," and proposes they head to the local
brewery instead.

Doten finishes by noting that when Sam's letter to the Enterprise on Como
appeared, Mark Twain said the town was "most promising" but every time he
set out to inspect the ledges and mines, he could "never get past the

The second installment recounts tales about SLC that Doten heard from
others: the fake robbery coming back to SF after a lecture tour, and
practical jokes when Sam was working on the Enterprise.

On Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 10:53 AM, Kevin Mac Donnell <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I've been out of town and very busy or would respond a bit quicker--
> To reply to two points:
> 1. Alf Doten and the timing of his prank: Clemens took on his nom de plume
> early in 1863 and if my memory serves the first newspaper account with the
> bar tab story did not appear until 1877, so Doten had plenty of time to
> pull
> his prank AFTER Clemens became Mark Twain. If Doten met Twain a few times
> in
> 1864 he could have been telling his story any time after that, and like all
> gossip, the story spread from that point on among others in various forms.
> 2. Why did Clemens adopt a nom de plume? I hate to repeat myself, but
> please
> read my article where I address this specific point in considerable detail.
> The short version: It has to do with gaining a reputation in the newspaper
> exchange system (there was no newspaper called THE EXCHANGE as an article
> in
> the MARK TWAIN ANNUAL asserts, so I suggest that writer read --or reread--
> my article also). Newspaper editors often copied pieces from other papers
> without attribution, but when a comic nom de plume was attached to a piece
> they tended to include it. If the author of a piece was clever enough to
> insinuate his own persona and nom de plume into the structure of the piece
> he was writing --say, as a character, as Twain often did-- it made it
> harder
> for other editors copying one of his pieces to drop his name. By having
> your
> pieces spread under your own name (that is, your own nom de plume) you made
> yourself more valuable to your own newspaper because that paper became more
> popular in the exchange system, and you could get paid more. It also built
> a
> brand through the exchange system, and once you had a recognized nom de
> plume, you could launch a lecture career or gather up your newspaper pieces
> into a book and earn even more from your writings. Virtually every
> newspaper
> writer aspired to be better known, increase his income, and advance his
> career, and virtually every such writer who established even a minor
> reputation with a nom de plume tried his hand at the lecture circuit and
> published collections of his writings in book form --as did Twain. This
> explains both his motivation and the timing of his decision to create a nom
> de plume that he then stuck with to the end of his life. This is not my
> theory alone; for more information on the exchange system and how nom de
> plumes functioned as I've described I strongly suggest reading WRITING WITH
> SCISSORS by Ellen Gruber Garvey, whom I credit in my article. It's an
> excellent piece of scholarship which I reviewed for the Mark Twain Forum.
> Of
> course, if you fear that reading Garvey's book might challenge what you
> think you know about nom de plumes and the newspaper exchange system then
> don't go anywhere near this book and if you dare to read my article then
> avert your eyes from my citations and footnotes.
> 3. OK, here's a third "bonus" point: as for how often Sam Clemens heard the
> term "mark twain" when working on the lower Mississippi and what term he
> actually used at the time instead of "mark twain" those are not addressed
> in
> my article, but I know the answers and they are explained and amply
> documented in the text of my updated article on his nom de plume --but that
> won't be offered for publication until I have a couple of other articles
> put
> to bed. The answers may surprise you. Like so much of Twain's
> self-generated
> mythologies, the facts are at serious variance with the myth.
> Kevin
> @
> Mac Donnell Rare Books
> 9307 Glenlake Drive
> Austin TX 78730
> 512-345-4139
> Member: ABAA, ILAB
> *************************
> You may browse our books at:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Robert E. Stewart [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 11:59 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: That bar tab story.
> We cannot ask Alf Doten himself, but we can check his diaries:
> In the 1960s, into the 1970s, author Walter Van Tilberg Clark heavily
> edited the diaries of Alf Doten into three volumes with a total of 2,224
> pages,
> plus appendices and index, published by the University of Nevada  Press. To
> the great frustration of historians in Nevada, the published  pages
> represent perhaps a half of Doten's extensive files. From the entries
> about
> Twain,
> below, I think it is doubtful that Doten was the  jokester creating the bar
> tab story. I also doubt that editor  Clark omitted any mentions Doten made
> of Twain. After reading all the  Twain entries in the Index, I append those
> I think you will agree make  it highly unlikely that Doten gave enough time
> and attention to Twain  to bother with creating the bar tab story.
> On Page 767 (Vol. 1), Doten wrote:
> Sunday, March 6, 1864. Clear & peasant. rose late. AM I went to  Creoss's
> awhile. J.D. Winters introduced me to "Mark Twain" --had pleasant  little
> chat with him.... [no further mention that day of Twain.]
> Then on March 4, Doten, who is living in the mining camp of Como, some
> distance from Virginia City, writes: ...Evening stage brought a noted
> correspondent of the Territorial Enterprise who writes under the"nomme de
> plume"  of
> "Mark Twain."  His name is Samuel Clements.  [sic]
> The next mention is on page 830, (Vol 2) 1865: Sunday, April 9. ...Went to
> Sutterleys -- took my portrait twice--small cards, and one big picture to
> hang  up in the gallery with Mark Twain and Dan DeQuille. [Sutterley's is a
> photo  emporium.]
> Page 900 1866: "Mark Twain" (Sam Clemens) arrived this evening from
> California. D. E. McCarthy, one of the former proprietors of the Enterprise
> came
> with him.
> There are other, later, mentions of Twain, but none pertinent to this
> discussion.
> Bob Stewart
> Carson City