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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 8 Jan 1996 14:17:22 -0500
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[log in to unmask] wrote:
> I don't necessarily remember What Is Man as being that dark but I too really
> enjoyed it.
> Is there a standard to judge work as generally dark or not.

Sounded like an easy enough question.  I consulted _The Devil's Race-
Track: Mark Twain's Great Dark Writings_, U. of Cal P, for John S.Tuckey's
criteria.  _What is Man?_ is not included in this anthology which is
proclaimed to be "The best from _Which Was the Dream?_ and _Fables of
Man_". Here are some of Tuckey's remarks.

"In their focus they range from intensely personal matters to the cosmic
situation... . Some deal with [Twain's] disasters of the mid-1890s ...
[T]hese writings are much concerned with sudden turns of fate by which
an individual may find himself in calamitious circumstances.  Others view
the human situation more generally, and sometimes from perspectives
remote in time or scale." (ix)

"There are recurring themes. A man long favored by good luck has been
pursuing a dream of high success that seems about to become a reality.
Suddenly he experiences a nightmarish time of failure...becomes confused
and to what is dream and what is reality. ... Another
intertwining theme is that of the loss of the family home ... and the
goal of a subsequent return ". (ix-x)

"Mark Twain explores the darker side of life in these little-known later
writings. ... The tone ... is lightened considerably by ... ironic humor
and ... warm-heartedness". (back cover)

Yes, I am aware that I have not answered the question!
larry marshburne            [log in to unmask]