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Taylor Roberts <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 21 Oct 1999 15:43:01 -0400
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There's a short article by Shelley Fisher Fishkin, 'Mark Twain in
Japan,' in the latest _Mark Twain Circular_ (vol. 13, no. 3, July-
September 1999) reporting on her trip to Japan and her lectures on
Twain.  She also expresses disappointment that a lot of excellent
Japanese scholarship on Mark Twain has not been noticed by American
scholars (not appearing in bibliographies, and seemingly having been
entirely omitted from the last couple of volumes of _American Literary

When the Forum began in 1992, it immediately struck me that the
largest number of subscribers, after the U.S., were from Japan.  This
continues to be true.  Here's the current tally of the Forum's
geographical distribution, which also gives a rough idea of Mark
Twain's popularity outside of the U.S.:

   Country                  Subscribers
   -------                  -----------
   Australia                          1
   Canada                             3
   China                              1
   Germany                            6
   Great Britain                      6
   India                              2
   Israel                             2
   Italy                              1
   Japan                             20
   Norway                             1
   Russian Federation                 1
   Spain                              1
   Taiwan                             1
   USA                              431

   Total number of "concealed" subscribers:        8
   Total number of users subscribed to the list: 477  (non-"concealed" only)
   Total number of countries represented:         14  (non-"concealed" only)

The last paragraph of Prof. Fishkin's article reads:

   As Twain scholars, we need to develop strategies for making sure that
   more of this interesting work by Japanese scholars (in both Japanese
   and English) finds its way into Twain bibliographies in the future.
   And as American literature specialists, we need to encourage the
   editors of _American Literary Scholarship_ to open its pages on a
   regular basis to work published in Japan, China, and Korea.  There is
   no shortage of qualified scholars who could do the job. (p. 4)

The annual volumes of _American Literary Scholarship_ are necessarily
static and condensed reviews of scholarly happenings.  Rather than
unwittingly ignoring Japanese scholarship, I wonder if its editors are
simply having to become more selective; in response to the information
nightmare posed by the 'net, for example, its editors have adopted a
semi-official policy of excluding web sites and e-mail discussion
lists.  The Internet and Japan, it seems, might as well be the same
place, as far as ALS is concerned.

Rather than worry about ALS, then, it would be great if members of the
Mark Twain Forum would try to make a positive contribution toward
alleviating the problem that Prof. Fishkin has identified.  I've
always felt that the Forum should facilitate communication between
Twain scholars and enthusiasts from different countries, and I'd like
to offer TwainWeb as a host for any bibliographic material that
scholars from Japan (or any country) would like to contribute, with
the hope that such scholarship will thereby find some attention in the
U.S.  and elsewhere.  Actually, there were a couple of threads about
Mark Twain in Japan here on the Forum in 1996, and Ryota Iijima of
Fukushima University has periodically kept us informed of new Twain
publications there.

If it's desirable to exchange international ideas about Twain (and it
surely is), members of the Forum are in an excellent position to do
this.  If we can get references to some of the Japanese (etc.)
scholarship online, it can potentially be brought to a wider
audience--perhaps even back to ALS.

Taylor Roberts