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Kevin Mac Donnell <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:45:46 -0600
text/plain (162 lines)
That one is one of the best. For more background on the subject see 
McDermott BEFORE MARK TWAIN (Mississippi lit and culture before Twain), the 
Walter Blair book on Mike Fink, and Sandlin WICKED RIVER.

For an 1887 account of a two-man boat trip down the Mississippi see Glazier 
DOWN THE GREAT RIVER. For more on road trips on rivers John Graves GOOD-BYE 
TO A RIVER is a masterpiece, but it is 20th century, of course, and has 
nothing to do with the Mississippi.

If you want insights that are often overlooked or ignored, see Buchanan 
BLACK LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI. That is an interesting book to read while 
thinking about Huck and Jim.

I built up a long shelf of 19th-20th century books on Mississippi River 
history and culture in doing further research on the nom de plume. I found 
two things striking (to me, anyway)-- black culture is largely ignored and 
very few steamboat captains/pilots/crew wrote out their stories in book form 
(mostly newspaper interviews). I even found a good lexicon and interviewed a 
couple of retired Mississippi boatman myself, including a steamboat pilot.

Mac Donnell Rare Books
9307 Glenlake Drive
Austin TX 78730
Member: ABAA, ILAB
You may browse our books at:

-----Original Message----- 
From: Lawrence Howe
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 9:40 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Connection between Twain and Lincoln

With respect to Kevin's question about Mississippi literature, anyone inter=
ested should consult Thomas Ruys Smith's _River of Dreams: Imagining the Mi=
ssissippi Before Mark Twain_ (LSU Press).  Tom's research is impeccable. =
Larry Howe=0A=
Professor of English=0A=
Chair, Department of Literature and Languages=0A=
Roosevelt University=0A=
Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies, Syddansk Universitet--Od=
ense, 2014-15=0A=
From: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Kevin Mac Donnell <i=
[log in to unmask]>=0A=
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 9:27 AM=0A=
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Connection between Twain and Lincoln=0A=
I agree with Larry Howe=3DE2=3D80=3D99s fine posting I decided to go ahead =
and =3D=0A=
send this private message to the list after reading his comment. Being a =
private message to a colleague it=3DE2=3D80=3D99s a little sharper in tone =
than a public message, but what the heck. The only change I might make =3D=
is to suggest that some might prefer a different beverage than DP. =3D20=0A=
Mac Donnell Rare Books=0A=
9307 Glenlake Drive=0A=
Austin TX 78730=0A=
Member: ABAA, ILAB=0A=
You may browse our books at:=0A=
I was tempted to post something about it to the MTF but they=3DE2=3D80=3D99=
ve =3D=0A=
heard enough from me this week.=0A=
The first edition of Howells=3DE2=3D80=3D99 Lincoln bio was 170pp. and got =
a =3D=0A=
small circulation, although the edition size is unknown. The expanded =3D=
edition was over 400pp. and was widely circulated (cf BAL). Extracts may =
have appeared in newspapers; in fact I=3DE2=3D80=3D99d be more surprised if=
they didn=3DE2=3D80=3D99t, but that=3DE2=3D80=3D99s easy enough to verify. =
Whether =3D=0A=
Lincoln=3DE2=3D80=3D99s raft story appeared in either, or both, or neither =
of =3D=0A=
those editions I have no idea. I=3DE2=3D80=3D99m doubtful Twain ever read t=
he =3D=0A=
thing, but if an extract with the raft story from Howells=3DE2=3D80=3D99 =
Lincoln bio (or the other one) appeared in a newspaper where Twain was =3D=
likely to have seen it, then one could speculate. But comparing this to =3D=
Twain=3DE2=3D80=3D99s likelihood of seeing Vanity Fair in Virginia City is =
comparing apples and oranges. Just because such an extract from =3D=0A=
Howells=3DE2=3D80=3D99 Lincoln bio appeared in a city where Twain might hav=
e =3D=0A=
seen it does not make it likely that he did; he had no compelling reason =
to read every issue of every paper in every city he visited at that time =
in his life. But in Virginia City he was a reporter and one of his major =
chores was to scour over magazines and newspapers from the exchange =3D=0A=
system (he used a knife instead of scissors according to a witness) and =3D=
there is strong evidence that exchange files of that magazine were at =3D=
his disposal as well as being sold from a news-stand in Virginia City. =3D=
In the end I think it may depend on how closely the Lincoln raft story =3D=
parallels the HF raft story. I think the more interesting question is =3D=
what =3DE2=3D80=3D9CMississippi raft literature=3DE2=3D80=3D9D =3DE2=3D80=
=3D93for lack of =3D=0A=
a better name=3DE2=3D80=3D94 had appeared before HF and how it was received=
and which ones Twain might have seen. If the studies of Twain=3DE2=3D80=3D9=
9s =3D=0A=
humor in the context of southwestern humor are valid, then a study of =3D=
=3DE2=3D80=3D9CMississippi raft literature=3DE2=3D80=3D9D would be equally =
valid =3D=0A=
=3DE2=3D80=3D93the evidence is no better or worse. No Davy Crockett =3D=0A=
autobiographies or almanacs, or Sut Lovingood books survive from =3D=0A=
Twain=3DE2=3D80=3D99s library, and I own the only annotated Artemus Ward bo=
ok =3D=0A=
from Twain=3DE2=3D80=3D99s library (which doesn=3DE2=3D80=3D99t exactly con=
firm the =3D=0A=
claims of various scholars since it=3DE2=3D80=3D99s an 1870 edition), but =
nobody questions those influences on his writings. My reaction to all of =
this is that instead of refusing to read others=3DE2=3D80=3D99 research or =
taking uninformed potshots at the work of others, it would be more =3D=0A=
useful if some Twainians buckled down and started investigating the =3D=0A=
field of =3DE2=3D80=3D9CMississippi raft literature=3DE2=3D80=3D9D and see =
what they =3D=0A=
find. Like the research you and I do, they could spend hours and even =3D=
days and find nothing, or they might discover something that contributes =
to what we know about Twain. It=3DE2=3D80=3D99s all right in front of them =
=3DE2=3D80=3D93all they need to do is pour a Dr Pepper, keep a pad of post-=
it =3D=0A=
notes at the ready, and start typing.    =3D20=