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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 6 Apr 1996 09:01:46 -0500
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Gregg Camfield wrote on March 29 in part:
> It has always seemed to me that delirium tremens explains much of the
> mess that is _CY_.  Granted, Twain often prefaces his stories with a
> warning that the contents might be spirited, as when he says at the
> beginning of _Roughing It_ that "the tighter I get, the more I leak
> wisdom," but the order of delirium in _Yankee_ is much higher.  Is Hank
> that much tighter?

"From time to time I dipped into old Sir Thomas Malory's enchanting book .
. . Midnight being come at length, I read another tale, for a night-cap .
.  . As I laid the book down there was a knock at the door, and my
stranger came in. . . . I . . . made him welcome.  I also comforted him
with a hot Scotch whiskey; gave him another one . . . hoping always for his
story.  After a fourth persuader, he drifted into himself in a quite
simple and natural way" (_CY_,Cal,2-5).

I always thought the frame narrator (Twain) was already drinking when
Hank arrived, and that Twain was not sitting empty-handed watching Hank
drink.  So couldn't Twain be the one who's tight, and Hank and the
manuscript be products of Twain's delirium?

In other words, is this more of Twain's autobiographical fiction and he's
telling us he got the ideas for the novel with an enchanting book in one
hand and Scotch whiskey in the other?

Thanks for reading my thoughts, and thanks to Greg and Howard for making
me think.

larry marshburne                 [log in to unmask]