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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 5 Jan 1996 11:29:41 -0500
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andy hoffman wrote:
> It isn't clear that Clemens shared any of "The Mysterious Stranger" manuscripts
>  with Livy.  Neither is it clear whether he intended tp publish any version of
> the story.  His motives for writing the pieces remain obscure, though I suspect
>  that his relationship with Henry Rogers lurked behind his Faustian imaginings.
>   The best book on the manuscripts and, by implication, Twain's motivation in
> their composition, is by Sholom Kahn. I believe the title is _The Mysterious
> Stranger Manuscripts_; don't recall the publisher.  Kahn demonstrates the flaws
>  in the 1916 Paine-Duneka edition and maintains that Twain favored the version
> called "No. 44."  It was the last one he worked on, but if he never wanted to
> publish any version, the sequence of their composition doesn't matter as much
> as Kahn argues.  As to the story's 'darkness': there isn't much to laugh about
> when you mix determinism with the supernatural, except the grandiosity of human
>  self-perception, and Twain is pretty funny, although darkly, on the subject.

Joseph Csicsila, of UNLV, argued at MLA that the manuscripts are drafts of
different works and that the order of composition is important because the
manuscripts shift from religious satire to enlightenment.  He also
believes the 1898 _What is Man_ first draft is significant in the order of
composition.  I do not have a copy of his paper, so I do not know how
well I have stated his thesis.

I do not know how this differs or agrees with Sholom J. Kahn's 1978 U of
Mo. Press _Mark Twain's Mysterious Stranger: A Study of the Manuscript
Texts_.  Concerning Livy, who died during the composition of "No. 44",
note that Kahn states "It seems to me natural ... to see the entire middle
part of "No. 44" as an indirect tribute to the woman Clemens loved." (p.151)

thanks,    larry marshburne           [log in to unmask]