TWAIN-L Archives

Mark Twain Forum


Options: Use Forum View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Condense Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Frank Henninger <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 8 Apr 1997 13:06:41 EST
University of Dayton
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (41 lines)
Kathy O'Connell writes:

"Even Twain scholars readily admit that Clemens' greatest book,
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is second-rate measured against the
best work of, say, Henry James."

"Whoa!  Hold on there, little lady" ! (Yosemite Sam)

     You call me on of your "friends" and then you try to get that
curve ball over the outside?!

     As a life-long teacher of both Twain and James, a teacher in
courses devoted to those authors in particular, I don't recall ever
saying, admitting to or even thinking anything like that.

     James was profound, terrifying, powerful.  I keep thinking of
his as a man who truly matured into a complex and broadly
understanding adult.  _The Portrait of a Lady_ leaves me breathless
and disturbed, needing to share its insights with others. Twain, as
his wife indicated, was always in some ways a "youth."  Part of him
seems never to have grown past fourteen, maybe twelve.

     BUT I have never ranked any of James' novels among our five
best. And I have always thought of _Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_
as one of those.  In fact, in recent years I've expanded the list to
six with _A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court_.  Score: Twain
2, James 0.

     We all come to such judgements with our own biases.  Many
will disagree with my estimates of Twain's relative value.  But your
statement is far too broad to be accurate.

     Otherwise, I enjoyed your article and, since I couldn't be
there, thank you for sharing your knowledge of the conference with


                                                Frank Henninger
[log in to unmask]