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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 27 Nov 1997 00:35:44 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (50 lines)
On 2nd thought, I decided to post short portions of my article on
Twain and censorship hoping the editor, our own Kent Rasmussen,
will not be offended.  The full article appeared or will appear in
Salem Press's *Ready Reference Guide to Censorship* and to them
belongs any citations in your student's report.

 . . .

     Sex: Twain himself circulated some pieces privately, such as
the bawdy parody "1601" (written in 1876), which was not officially
published until 1987 although a number of unlicensed publishers
released underground printings.  As a Victorian male, Twain was
uneasy about publishing overt sexual material in his works and, in
such pieces as Villagers of 1840-43 (written 1897), he deliberately
sentimentalized his Hannibal childhood, avoiding references to
adultery and sexual practices he was clearly aware of. "The Mammoth
Cod," an early twentieth-century scatological sketch has been
attributed to Twain, and his 1879 speech on masturbation, "Some
Thoughts on the Science of Onanism" delivered to the Stomach Club
in Paris,  was not printed until 1949 and then only as a pamphlet
of fifteen copies.  It did not appear in general circulation until
1964, first in Fact magazine, later in Playboy, when a typescript
of the speech was located in the Mark Twain Papers, the original
manuscript apparently not surviving.

     After Twain's death, his daughter Clara instructed Elizabeth
Wallace, author of The Happy Island (1919), a short book about the
author's meeting of Mark Twain in Bermuda, not to include
potentially compromising photographs of Twain with young girls.
While Twain's relationships with his "Angelfish" (young women who
became Twain's surrogate daughters) were entirely above-board and
fatherly, Clara believed readers might misconstrue Twain's

     Philosophy of Literature: Throughout his life, Twain was
interested in censorship, noting in Following the Equator that
Americans have three "unspeakably precious things: freedom of
speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice
either of them."  He observed the censorship of other authors,
repeatedly decrying attackers of his philosophic mentor, American
essayist Thomas Paine.  He defended poet Walt Whitman while
advising that Whitman's Leaves of Grass should be kept out of
children's hands because of its sexual frankness.

. . .