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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
robert a dagnall <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 17 Dec 1993 12:26:28 -0700
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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On Fri, 17 Dec 1993, L. Terry Oggel wrote:

> I'm struck by Dagnall's response today and one yesterday, purportedly
> to Hoffman's thesis but actually to Hoffman personally.  Obviously,
> they have very strong opinions--this subject has touched a tender
> spot.

Which subject - Hoffman's thesis, or Hoffman personally? Myself, I
am reacting to what I see as highly questionable scholarship on
Hoffman's part. If I recall correctly, Hoffman infers that Twain
might have been bisexual because a) he lived on the frontier, where
women were in short supply, and was in close quarters with men;
b) there is a letter from (not DeQuille or Harte; another of his
contemporaries. Anyone? Anyone?) to Twain which begins "My dearest
love,"; and c) an editorial in a local newspaper which reports that
Twain and DeQuille are to be married, "and it's about time."
I don't recall if there were any other scraps of evidence.

If Hoffman can read bisexuality into that, wait until I let him
pore over *my* personal letters! What a basketcase I'll seem!

> Hummm.  And no effort whatsoever to rebut Hoffman's evidence
> (which he is careful to say is circumstantial) with solid,
> controvening evidence (in fact, Dagnall explicitly says that's for
> someone else to do--he'll do the easy thing and launch an ad hominem
> attack on Hoffman).

That's because Dagnall was making a funny. This is the Mark Twain Forum,
so it didn't strike me as out of place.

The form of the "attack" I suggested was to apply Hoffman's
analytical techniques (let's make that "analytical" techniques)
to Hoffman himself & see what conclusions one can draw.

And if this constitutes an "attack," does it not follow that Hoffman's
analysis is also an attack on Samuel Clemens?

I can't make an effort to rebut Hoffman's evidence with solid,
contravening evidence - because Hoffman hasn't presented solid
evidence in the first place. Hoffman's conclusions seem to rely on
the ability of the reader to swallow inferences rather than think

How can you fight that? Take away their televisions?

> Isn't this simply killing the messenger because
> of the message?  Seems pretty regressive; a case of arrested
> development?

So now you're diagnosing my psyche from your armchair. Maybe you
and Hoffman could collaborate...
> [log in to unmask]

Robert Dagnall