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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Taylor Roberts <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 14 Jan 1998 21:10:13 EST
Taylor Roberts <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (108 lines)
The Mark Twain Forum needs reviewers for the following books:

     Fulton, Joe B.  _Mark Twain's Ethical Realism: The Aesthetics of
     Race, Class, and Gender_.  Columbia: University of Missouri Press,
     1997.  Pp. xii + 174.  Bibliography, index.  Cloth, 6-1/4" x
     9-1/4".  $27.50.  ISBN 0-8262-1144-5.

The dust jacket reads:

     "This is a keenly intelligent, disciplined, innovative book on a
     major aspect of Twain's mind and writings."--Louis J. Budd

     Mark Twain's interest in the relationship between ethics and
     aesthetics provides the basis for this groundbreaking work of
     scholarship.  Beginning with Twain's observation that a writer of
     realism becomes "like another conscience" for readers, Joe B.
     Fulton asks, "What is literary realism?" "In what ways is realism

     Taking a hard look at recent criticism of Mark Twain and American
     realism, Fulton explores the skepticism associated with terms such
     as _realism_ that has led scholars to ignore Twain's view of how a
     writer creates believable fictions.  Recent critics have also
     attacked the claim that realistic writing is ethically oriented and
     ignored Twain's belief that because realism demands the authentic
     depiction of individuals living on the "other" side of race, class,
     or gender boundaries, it honors their subjectivity.  Realism
     introduces a conventional readership to these "others," Fulton
     argues, and so fuses ethical and aesthetic concerns.

     Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin's neglected, early theories of
     ethics and aesthetics provide a theoretical framework and
     vocabulary for Fulton's discussion of Twain's ethical realism.
     Bakhtin's concept of creativity bears a striking resemblance to
     Twain's belief that the writer who strives for a realistic
     depiction of characters becomes "another conscience" within the
     work of art.  For Twain, the realism of portraying people "as they
     _do_ talk" is inextricably associated with becoming that other
     conscience for his characters and readers.  Likewise, within his
     novels, Twain's doubled and switched characters serve as another
     conscience for each other.

     _Mark Twain's Ethical Realism_ is the only work that looks
     specifically at how Twain blends ethical and aesthetic concerns in
     the act of composing his novels.  Fulton conducts a spirited
     discussion regarding these concepts, and his explanation of how
     they relate to Twain's writing helps to clarify the complexities of
     his creative genius.  This vital work will make a lasting
     contribution to our understanding of Mark Twain.

     About the author: Joe B. Fulton is Assistant Professor of English
     at Dalton College in Georgia.

The following titles are also available for review:

     Heck, Peter J.  _A Connecticut Yankee in Criminal Court: A Mark
     Twain Mystery_.  New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 1996.  Pp. viii +
     311.  Paper, 4-1/4" x 6-3/4".  $5.99.  ISBN 0-425-16034-3.

     Heck, Peter J.  _The Prince and the Prosecutor: A Mark Twain
     Mystery_.  New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 1997.  Pp. viii + 324.
     Cloth, 5-1/2" x 8-1/2".  $21.95.  ISBN 0-425-15970-1.

These are the second and third titles in an ongoing series, described
thus by the dust jacket of _The Prince and the Prosecutor_:

     "Rich in humor and historical detail, Peter J. Heck's Mark Twain
     Mysteries--praised as 'thoroughly enjoyable period mystery' by
     _Booklist_--have intrigued both mystery buffs and fans of the
     inimitable American author's irreverent wit, as he solves murders
     in this delightful new series."

The first book in the series, _Death on the Mississippi_ (1995), was
reviewed for the Forum by Jim McWilliams on 28 December 1995.  The
review began:

     Peter J. Heck has obviously read the works of Mark Twain very
     thoroughly, for his mystery novel featuring the humorist as
     detective is rife with many allusions to Twain's novels, stories,
     and speeches.... Even though its style is rather pedestrian,
     especially when compared with Twain's own inimitable prose, _Death
     on the Mississippi_ is an entertaining novel, one whose dozens of
     plot twists are sure to keep a reader turning its pages.

As usual, the review must be of publishable quality, and it would be due
within two months of your receipt of the book (i.e., due mid-March
1998).  The deadline is particularly important, as we are making every
effort for Forum reviews to appear before print reviews.  If you are
inclined to procrastinate, please don't offer to review the book.

If you would like to see the general content and style of Forum book
reviews, feel free to browse the archive of reviews, at the following

If you're interested in writing a review, please send me both your home
and institutional mailing addresses and phone numbers, and indicate
which of the above titles you would like to review.  If I don't already
know you, it would be helpful for you to explain in what respect you're
qualified to write the review.  (If we haven't exchanged e-mail
recently, it might be a good idea for you to remind me of this info.)

I look forward to hearing from you.

Taylor Roberts <[log in to unmask]>
Book review editor, Mark Twain Forum