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Gregg Camfield <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 27 Mar 1996 13:53:27 -0500
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According to Ines Koessel-Timm>
> . . . So what happend was that some time ago I asked if anybody had an
opinion on
> the connection between Hank Morgan and the classical Picaro. Here in
> Germany, this is a debate that has been around for some time. However I
> never found any new American publication on that question (the MT
> Encyclopedia only cites works from the 1970s). Since I consider the Forum a
> place for scholarly discussion I posted that question, thinking this might
> be an interesting thread for everyone. However, I only received some private
> mails pointing to the literature recommended in the Encyclopedia. I was a
> little disappointed that no one thought my question to be interesting enough
> for discussion.But that's ok, becaus it made me aware of three things: 1.
> Maybe my English is incomprehensible, 2. maybe American scholars in fact are
> not interested in the study of the picaresque tradition (which could be
> true, because the Picaro is an entirely European figure), which leads to 3.
> maybe there really is a big difference between the German and American Mark
> Twain studies (which, in my opinion, would be another fascinating topic for
> Forum discussion).

I agree that it would be fascinating to discuss the differences between
Mark TWain studies in Germany and the U.S.  Perhpas
it just shows my national biases, but I am unaware of significant
treatments of Hank as Picaro.  The only references to the picaresque I
have heard about Twain have to do with Huck.  I have heard it said that
Huck is a picaro, as if that said everything of importance to be said on
the subject, and I have done the same in my classes many times.  It seems
that the cultural conditions in America make
the picaresque mean very different things here than it does it Europe
where an
aristocratic tradition serves as the reference point for the ironic
inversions of the picaresque.

Ines's question, couched in lucid English, is
worth discussion, and makes me wonder about other differences in
interpretive traditions.  What did the citizens of the former Soviet
Union see in Twain that his works were very popular (at least among
scholars)?  What do Japanese scholars see?

Gregg Camfield