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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Sun, 30 Dec 2007 15:12:22 -0500
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Jim Zwick <[log in to unmask]>
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>>> But does Twain's use of environmental evidence (among other
kinds of evidence) to indict imperialism demonstrate environmental
awareness in the same sense as John Muir, John Burroughs, or Rachel
Carson? <<<

Twain's attention to aborginines might demonstrate a broader
environmental awareness, but my point was simply that his writings on
the subject appeared in a broader range of writings than Barb's
correspondent had identified. Comparisons of his descriptive writings
with those of Muir, Burroughs and Carson would miss much of what he
wrote on environmental subjects.

I don't know what a comprehensive study would reveal, but some
writings, like his commentary on the dingo with the identification of the
reasons they were hunted and headed for extinction, are similar to
writings of the period that made the environmental movement a new,
Progressive Era reform movement. Environmental issues were seen as
not just a matter of nature taking its course but the results of human
action, and both non-governmental organizations like the Sierra Club
and new government agencies like the Forestry Department were
created in the 1890s and early 1900s to address them. The "Anti-Noise
Society" mentioned by Barb is another example of how these concerns
took organizational shape during the Progressive Era.

Organizations like Dan Beardís Sons of Daniel Boone and Boy Pioneers
and Ernest Thompson Setonís Woodcraft Indians, as well as many
projects to bring urban children out of the cities during the summers,
also fed into the development of the environmental movement and
creation and use of parks and other "nature reserves" during that era.
Some of those projects were active on the Lower East Side of
Manhattan (where they also addressed the urban environment held
responsible for widespread tuberculosis) while Twain was president of
the board of directors of the Children's Educational Theater so he was
likely aware of them.

Jim Zwick

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