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Robert Hirst <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 3 Sep 2010 10:27:39 -0700
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  John and Larry,

Lou Budd published that conjecture back in 1985. In 1997 (i.e., 
prehistoric times) I
posted the following to the Forum as part of a discussion of that 

*Date:*          Thu, 10 Apr 1997 12:36:58 -0700
*Reply-To:*      Mark Twain Forum<[log in to unmask]  <>>
*Sender:*        Mark Twain Forum<[log in to unmask]  <>>
*From:*          Robert Hirst<[log in to unmask]  <>>
*Subject:*       Re: Barechested Photo
*In-Reply-To:*   <l03010d02af72e0c3e2c3@[]>
*Content-Type:*  TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

See Louis J. Budd, "`A Nobler Roman Aspect' of *Adventures of 
Huckleberry Finn*" in *One Hundred Years of Huckleberry Finn,* ed. 
Robert Sattlemeyer and J. Donald Crowley, 1985, pp. 26-40. Columbia: 
University of Missouri Press.

When that proved to too enigmatic, I posted the following:

*Date:*          Thu, 10 Apr 1997 16:25:52 -0700
*Reply-To:*      Mark Twain Forum<[log in to unmask]  <>>
*Sender:*        Mark Twain Forum<[log in to unmask]  <>>
*From:*          Robert Hirst<[log in to unmask]  <>>
*Subject:*       Budd on photo
*In-Reply-To:*   <[log in to unmask]  <>>
*Content-Type:*  TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

Mr. Henninger, Lou Budd's essay is about the heliotype of the Gerhardt 
bust of Clemens that serves as one of the frontispieces to *Huck Finn*. 
His comment on the photograph comes entirely in his footnote 3: 
"Twainians have wondered over a stripped-to-the-waist photograph, 
reproduced in Milton Meltzer, *Mark Twain Himself* (New York: Crowell, 
1960), p. 182. Perhaps it was posed for the use of Gerhardt, who wanted 
photographs of his subject; see the anecdote in *Mark Twain-Howells 
Letters*, 2:498." The simplicity of this observation belies its power. 
First of all, the photograph had already been independently dated 1884, 
just on the basis of its similarity to other known photos of that time. 
Second, as any sculptor will tell you, it is necessary to see the 
shoulders in order to get the neck right. Third, the Gerhardt bust shows 
Clemens without so much as a shirt collar or necktie. In short, the 
argument uses one document (the bust) to explain the existence and 
purpose of another (the photo). Elegant. I'd note further that the lack 
of this or any comparable explanation also helps explain previous 
comments on the photo. Justin Kaplan printed the photo in his 1966 
biography with the following caption: "Nearing 50, probably a private 
joke." But Kaplan has no *evidence* that the photo was part of a joke, 
private or otherwise--he's just projecting his own reaction onto it 
(`since it seems funny to me, its purpose must be a joke'). Naturally 
other readers will project other feelings and conclusions and guesses 
onto what seems both odd and unexplained, as we've seen already on the 
FORUM. It's hard to make any progress that way. Budd's argument may 
prove mistaken in the end, but at least it is based on documents, on 
physical evidence. It's what used to be known as scholarship.

Forum members might like to know, in addition, that the only original 
print of the photograph that I'm aware of is in the Mark Twain Papers, 
and that it was sent to the Papers when Henry Nash Smith was editor by 
Avis DeVoto, shortly after she gave her husbands's papers to Stanford. 
She obviously recognized that DeVoto had inadvertently left it out of 
the archive that he turned over to Dixon Wecter in the mid 1940s.

Bob Hirst