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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Gregg Camfield <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 1 Dec 1997 13:33:34 -0800
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
TEXT/PLAIN (35 lines)
Most of _The Mysterious Stranger_ is Twain's, and in spite of
Duneka and Paine's effort to bowdlerize the piece, much of its power
remains.  Duneka and Pain were primarily interested, after all,
in selling books; they were not such operators that they
invented a whole new story and fobbed it off as Twain's.  What
they did do was find an ending from the third draft in order to
give the book closure.  Then, Duneka, a Roman Catholic, and
Paine removed Twain's most obvious attacks on Roman
Catholicism, in part by changing the villian from a notoriously corrupt
priest to a necromancer.  Granted that Twain did not create the
character, most of his lines were penned by Twain.  Paine and Duneka then
commisioned etherial illustrations to round out a rather pretty book,
and tried to hawk it on the christmas market as a boy's book, but so
much of Twain's orignal remained, that it didn't sell
particularly well as such.  That, I suppose, is poetic justice, though
so much of the real Twain remained in the story, that it found a
new market later, with illustrations removed, in various
collections of short stories as well as in Harper's uniform
edition of Twain's works.

Considering that Harper Collins continues to publish the
bowdlerized version, our railing against it is not going to make it go
away, especially if we overstate the case by calling Paine and Duneka the
authors.  Nor, I think, can we in good conscience say that any of the
other editions is the version Twain intended, because he intended no
version for public consumption.  As he told Howells, he was writing to
find solace after Susy's death, and he did not intend to publish private
expressions of grief.

So, Tom, what you have enjoyed is mostly Twain's, but you'll need to read
"Chronicle of Young Satan" to get the full power of the story as Twain
penned it.

Gregg Camfield