This is the last I'll say about this on the forum--nobody wants to follow this kind of back and forth on here. Sam would have known the term from his steam boating days, which predate the Vanity Fair piece (which he may or may not have read.) He apprenticed in 1857, and then received his pilot's license in 1859. He would have called out or heard "Mark Twain" called out countless times before the 1861 piece that you found. It's as simple as that. I think you uncovered something interesting, but I do not find that the premise "challenges" or calls anything into question, which is why I've put off reading it.
I do not have Gribben's reconstruction of Twain's library handy, but is there any mention of VF? Would that be something he'd have in his library?
> On Jan 26, 2015, at 7:06 PM, Kevin Mac Donnell <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Both of your responses indicate you have made some incorrect assumptions
> about exactly what I say and don't say in my article. The evidence is
> circumstantial, but consistent and non-contradictory, and from multiple
> sources. The meaning of "Mark Twain" is exactly what everyone has thought
> (two fathoms, meaning safe or dangerous water depending on whether you are
> entering or leaving that depth). But where he got the idea for the nom de
> plume is NOT what had been traditionally supposed. The bar tab story (with
> an entirely different meaning) is based on patently false newspaper accounts
> by people who did not know or ever meet Twain. Twain's own account
> attributing it to Capt Sellers was long ago proven false on two counts, and
> subsequent research has continued to confirm this. My account is based on a
> body of facts and a logical application of those facts --the fact the name
> was in print in VF in 1861, that VF was available in Virginia City in places
> where Twain would have had to shut his eyes tight to avoiding seeing it in
> 1862-3, the role of the exchange system, Twain's familiarity with pieces by
> Ward that appeared in VF, Twain's efforts to distance himself from Ward and
> the Phunny Phellows being the motivation to hide VF as the source of his nom
> de plume, Twain's need for a nom de plume at that point in time to brand his
> writings in the exchange system, his propensity for self-mythologizing, etc.
> I'll resist commenting on your refusal to read anything that challenges what
> you think you know, but should warn you that I've written quite a bit lately
> that upsets some apple-carts: Charlie Webster killed himself I'm sorry to
> report, one of Twain's hoaxes has been misunderstood for 160 years, and in a
> few weeks the next MTJ will appear and reveal indisputable proof of Sam
> Clemens' first real girlfriend (no, it ain't Laura Hawkins or Laura Wright).
> At the moment I'm writing up the story of a crime spree involving a dead
> teenage who was inspired by HUCK FINN-- and Twain's reaction to it. And I
> have a pile of two dozen articles in various stages of neglect that either
> deconstruct or amplify our knowledge of Mark Twain. But if you don't like
> reading anything that challenges what we all thought we knew about Mark
> Twain, then for goodness sake, don't read them!
> Mac Donnell Rare Books
> 9307 Glenlake Drive
> Austin TX 78730
> Member: ABAA, ILAB
> You may browse our books at:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dustin Zima
> Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 4:38 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Connection between Twain and Lincoln
> I can see how the way that I said that could come off as disrespectful, and
> I apologize for that. I think that Kevin is one of the most knowledgeable
> and gracious Twain people I've ever come into contact with, but I have just
> not been able to bring myself to read the article. I do not question why a
> fat guy is called slim, just like I do not question why Sam Clemens is
> called Mark Twain--it's obvious. I'm as stubborn as a Missouri mule--and
> for that,again, I am sorry.
> Dustin Zima
> Elmira College
> On Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 1:47 PM, Kevin Mac Donnell <
> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> "an obscure book that he may have read"??
>> Clearly, you have not read my article. It was not a book and not obscure.
>> Vanity Fair was the most popular and widely distributed humor journal of
>> day. It was edited by Artemus Ward and Charles J. Leland, both of whom
>> became good friends of Mark Twain, not to mention many of its
>> It was also one of the two major journals that published Bohemian authors;
>> the other was the Saturday Press, in which Twain's jumping frog story
>> national fame. To imagine that Twain was not familiar with Vanity Fair
>> (which was being copied in Virginia City newspapers and sold off Virginia
>> City newsstands even before Twain arrived there) but that he was at the
>> time very familiar with several minor humor magazines and was being
>> influenced by Ward's writings that appeared in Vanity Fair is absurd. I
>> a modest proposal: read my article.
>> Mac Donnell Rare Books
>> 9307 Glenlake Drive
>> Austin TX 78730
>> Member: ABAA, ILAB
>> You may browse our books at:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Dustin Zima
>> Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2015 4:06 PM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: Connection between Twain and Lincoln
>> I think we are paddling into the similarly muddy waters of Sam taking
>> his name from an obscure book that he may have read. There seems to
>> be a lot of this going on in Twain scholarship--scholarship in
>> general, really.
>> Dustin Zima
>> Elmira College
>>> On 1/25/15, Arianne <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> It would be interesting to learn if there was a book on Lincoln in Mark
>>> TWain's library. Wouldn't surprise me to learn that Mark Twain indeed
>>> the account Lincoln wrote of a raft trip down the river. If so, it
>>> could be an influence. I'd love to read the Lincoln story.
>>> Appreciate the Kaplan comments, too!
>>>> On Sun, Jan 25, 2015 at 6:04 AM, Hal Bush <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>> For the record, the assertions in that article are extremely tenuous at
>>>> best. It's always fun to speculate but there is evidently, in this
>>>> no real evidence to support that Lincoln's stories are behind Huck
>>>> If I missed the evidence please enlighten me.
>>>> As far as somewhat less specific connections between AL & MT, now that
>>>> an interesting question. Twain wrote about Lincoln on at least 2
>>>> and also gave at least one speech about Lincoln, for example. I tried
>>>> imagine the implications of that connection myself, in some of my work;
>>>> figure them both, in Twain's words, as "men of the border," a phrase I
>>>> a lot. But maybe my favorite formulation is by Fred Kaplan: "Just as
>>>> Howells has called Twain the Lincoln of our literature," Kaplan writes,
>>>> could envision Lincoln as the Twain of our politics." I like that!!
>>>> On Sun, Jan 25, 2015 at 7:18 AM, Dave Davis <[log in to unmask]
>>>>> That's pretty interesting. First I'd ever heard of this Vote Lincoln!
>>>>> SLC's (unpaid; maybe room & board, at best?) berth out West came
>>>>> Orion. I don't know how big brother was selected for his post-- he
>>>>> have had some connection to the territorial governor, James Nye? (Nye
>>>>> of course, a Lincoln appointee.)
>>>> Prof. Harold K. Bush
>>>> Professor of English
>>>> 3800 Lindell
>>>> Saint Louis University
>>>> St. Louis, MO 63108
>>>> 314-977-3616 (w); 314-771-6795 (h)
>>> Arianne Laidlaw A '58