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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
DR KENT RASMUSSEN <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 10 Oct 1994 18:04:25 EDT
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        _Mark Twain: Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays,
        (Library of America 60). Edited by Louis J. Budd. New York: Literary
     Classics of the United States, 1992. Pp. xviii, 1,076. $35.00. Cloth,
   5" x 8-1/4". ISBN 0-940450-36-4.

        _Mark Twain: Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays,
        (Library of America 61). Edited by Louis J. Budd. New York: Literary
     Classics of the United States, 1992. Pp. xiii, 1,050. $35.00. Cloth, 5"
     x 8-1/4". ISBN 0-940450-73-9.

        _Mark Twain Forum_ subscribers are entitled to a 20 percent discount
     when they order directly from the Library of America.

        Reviewed for the Mark Twain Forum by R. Kent Rasmussen
 <[log in to unmask]>

        Copyright (c) Mark Twain Forum, 1994. This review may not be
       or redistributed in any medium without permission.

This review lags two years behind publication of _Collected Tales_. The
has not been without certain advantages. I first became aware of these
soon after they were published in early 1992. In May that year, I happened
attend the American Booksellers Association convention, where I spent most
of a
day tramping the aisles, collecting brochures, buttons and balloons and
out for interesting new books --particularly those relating to Mark Twain.
booth of the Library of America (LOA) had an appealing display advertising
new _Collected Tales_ set, but by the time I reached it, I found myself less
interested in the books than in LOA's handsome Mark Twain poster. I gave the
books a quick once over, noticed that their chronology was much fuller than
those of earlier Mark Twain volumes in the LOA series, then turned my full
attention to talking the person in charge of the booth into giving me a copy
the poster.

In retrospect it strikes me as odd that a person so intensely interested in
Mark Twain books could have paid so little attention to those books. Fatigue
was doubtless a factor in my lack of interest that day; however, there was
something more--my casual indifference to LOA volumes generally. I've always
regarded them as handsome, durable, and authoritative, but utterly devoid of
anything remarkable. This prejudice kept me from suspecting that there was
strong reason why these latest volumes should interest me. I already owned,
after all, the "Author's National Edition of the Writings of Mark Twain,"
"American Artists Edition of the Complete Works of Mark Twain," and the
"Authorized Edition of the Complete Works of Mark Twain." I also possessed
of the presumably definitive volumes of the Mark Twain Project's "Mark Twain
Papers" and "Works of Mark Twain," as well as a jumble of miscellaneous
collections of Mark Twain's short works. If all this were not enough, I even
owned the complete "Complete" collections edited by Charles Neider.
I asked myself what yet another two volumes of short works could possibly
to what I already had. As I learned only recently, the two _Collected Tales_
volumes do add agreat deal to my library. (Regrettably, I don't think that
same can be said of LOA's latest Mark Twain volume, _Historical Romances_).

Now that I have finally taken the time to study _Collected Tales_ closely, I
can state, in no uncertain terms, that it constitutes the single finest
collection of Mark Twain's short writings yet published. In addition to
presenting a large and excellent selection of material from Mark Twain's
writing career, the set has a valuable editorial apparatus that includes a
detailed chronology, substantial textual annotations, and full
notes that go a long way toward clearing up the bibliographical muddle
Mark Twain's literary heritage. Credit for this fine achievement certainly
belongs to Louis J. Budd, whose contributions as the set's editor go far
those of the usual LOA guest editor.

_Background to publication_

The collecting of Mark Twain's short writings into books began in 1867 with
publication of _The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other
Sketches_. Anyone familiar with the multitudinous collections of Mark
short writings that followed knows that keeping track of the volumes in
individual titles appear is a headache--and not a small one. Mark Twain
published many pieces in more than one collection, occasionally under more
one title. Furthermore, the collections themselves were sometimes reissued
new titles and altered contents. When Harper's began issuing "uniform"
of his works at the turn of the century, the results were anything but
Who, for example, but dedicated bibliophiles know that the _Literary Essays_
the "Author's National Edition" is the same book as _In Defense of Harriet
Shelley_ in the "American Artists Edition"?

In 1957, Charles Neider brought some order to Mark Twain bibliography with
publication of 60 pieces in _The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain_. He
followed this volume with 136 items in _The Complete Humorous Sketches and
Tales of Mark Twain_ (1961) and 77 items in _The Complete Essays of Mark
(1963). Material in these volumes is arranged in approximate chronological
order of original publication. _Sketches_ and _Essays_ contain alphabetical
indexes to the titles they contain and _Essays_ makes up for the lack of an
index in _Stories_ by supplying a comprehensive index to all three volumes.
consolidating 274 items that had been scattered among more than a dozen
separate books, Neider's trilogy performed a valuable service. A central
problem with his books, however, was that they were mistitled. They were not
"complete"; in fact, incompleteness may be their most outstanding feature.

Neider's books appeared around the same moment that publication of Mark
material was entering a turning point. In 1961, Neider himself also issued
another collection, _Mark Twain: Life As I Find It_--a significant anthology
essays, sketches, and tales differing from Neider's other volumes in
mostly pieces that had not previously appeared in book form. (One wonders,
incidentally, if Neider recognized the strangeness of calling his _Humorous
Sketches_ anthology "complete" while simultaneously issuing another volume
which contained sketches that the "Complete Sketches" lacked.) In 1962,
Geismar published _Mark Twainon the Damned Human Race_, a collection of Mark
Twain's angriest short writings. That same year, Bernard DeVoto's edition of
_Letters from the Earth_ appeared--two decades after Clara Clemens
its publication. The previously unpublished material in this volume
national attention after _Life_ magazine published extracts from it
 and the book itself became a best-seller. By the time that Neider's
Essays_ anthology appeared in 1963, the illusion must have been growing that
all of Mark Twain's short writings were finally in print in books. Not

In 1962 Clara Clemens died, willing her father's papers to the Mark Twain
Project (then the "Mark Twain Papers") at Berkeley. The same year, the
signed a publishing agreement with the University of California Press that
would launch the first truly "complete" edition of Mark Twain's works. The
Project's gradually evolving publishing scheme now calls for issuing all of
Mark Twain's previously published short fiction and sketches in several
beginning with 365 items in five volumes of _Early Tales & Sketches_. His
short stories and sketches are scheduled to be issued in "Middle Tales &
Sketches" and "Late Tales." So far, however, the Project has issued only the
first two volumes of "Early Tales" (1979 and 1981). The Project is also
publishing Mark Twain's essays and polemical works in a series of topical
volumes, the first of which, _What Is Man? and Other Philosophical
appeared in 1973. Meanwhile, the Project is issuing previously unpublished
material in thematically oriented "Papers" volumes, such as _Satires &
Burlesques_. The Project has no plan, however, to publish Mark Twain's
speeches--which, after all, are technically not part of Mark Twain's

While the quality and authority of the Mark Twain Project's publications are
beyond reproach, the pace at which they are being issued means that it will
decades before all the volumes are available. This fact makes publication of
_Collected Tales_ all the more valuable now, as it casts its net more widely
and draws its texts from more authoritative sources than those used by any
editions other than those of the Mark Twain Project.

_Description of the volumes_

Budd's two _Collected Tales_ volumes contain 272 Mark Twain pieces that are
arranged chronologically, according to original publication dates, or, in
of posthumously published items, approximate dates of composition.
Bibliographically, the volumes should be considered separate books; each has
its own title, ISBN, pagination, table of contents, annotations,
bibliographical notes, chronology, and index of titles. There is no index to
both volumes. The meat of the two volumes is Mark Twain's own words, which
1,886 pages. Since these text pages average roughly 360 to 380 words each
amount of white space varies among pieces), the volumes contain a total of
about 650,000 words of pure Mark Twain material. This figure is roughly
equivalent to about 2,500 pages, or six or seven typical volumes, in
uniform editions. Despite the fact that each _Collected Tales_ volume has
over 1,000 pages, each book is only about an inch and a quarter thick and
weighs only a pound and a half--making it compact and light enough to be
comfortably in one hand--a feature that Mark Twain himself would have
appreciated, as he enjoyed reading and writing while lying in bed. In
to Mark Twain's texts, the volumes contain a total of about 45 pages of
bibliographical notes and about 80 pages of substantive annotations, as well
a detailed chronology--which I discuss below. A valuable feature of their
design is a system of running heads which gives titles of pieces on recto
and the years and places where Mark Twain was living when the pieces were
originally published (or written, in the case of posthumously published
material) on the facing pages.

What I most appreciate about these volumes is that they are the first
collection to pull together material from every phase of Mark Twain's
publishing history: pieces that he published in magazines and books during
lifetime; pieces that Albert Bigelow Paine and others first collected in
after Mark Twain died; and previously unpublished material that Paine,
and their successors have gradually assembled in books. Until now, writings
from each of these categories could generally only be found within its own
idiosyncratic group of publications. It is refreshing, finally, to see
samples from all these categories brought together in one coherent set,
arranged in the order in which Mark Twain wrote them. _Collected Tales_
away the largely artificial distinctions that previously kept Mark Twain's
short writings apart. The mix is a happy one in which the juice kind of
around, and things go better.

_Selection of texts_

It should be immediately clear that even with 272 items (a figure remarkably
close, by the way, to the total number of items in Neider's "Complete"
trilogy), _Collected Tales_ contains only a fraction of Mark Twain's short
works. His various stories, sketches, essays and speeches must add up to
something in the neighborhood of 1,000 separate pieces. Since _Collected
makes no pretense of being a "complete" collection of Mark Twain's short
we can fairly ask what, if anything, its selection of material represents.
it the "best" of Mark Twain's short works? The most popular? The most
important? The most readily available? Its editor's personal favorites?
Remarkably, nothing in either volume even hints at how the contents were
assembled. A notice following the copyright page of each volume states
"Louis J. Budd selected the contents and wrote the notes for this volume."
stark statement is the closest thing to an introduction in either book. This
skimpy information typifies LOA's editorial practices. However, while it may
in volumes containing a few novels, it does not suffice in _Collected
Tales_--in which so many editorial choices have been made. Even a one-page
preface setting forth criteria of text selection would have enhanced the
of the set significantly.

What, then, can readers assume about the contents of _Collected Tales_? I'm
sure. Overall, these volumes are a broad cross-section of pieces that Mark
Twain wrote from the early 1850s until his death. The mix of material is
broad--from the familiar jumping frog story to the obscure "Overspeeding."
titles that one might reasonably expect to find in so large a collection are
here, but not all of them. For example, there is nothing relating to Tom
and Huck Finn. Although I initially thought it natural for _Tom Sawyer
and _Tom Sawyer, Detective_ not to be in the volumes, it later dawned on me
that I did not know _why_. The storiesare, after all, moderately important
the Mark Twain canon and are reasonably popular as well. Length alone cannot
the whole reason for their exclusion; at 23,400 words, _Tom Sawyer,
is shorter than "The Great Dark" (24,000 words), which is here. Perhaps Budd
simply regards their quality as insufficiently high, or he thinks that the
stories are too readily available in other editions to justify taking up
here. On the other hand, ready availability in other editions cannot be the
reason that _Collected Tales_ does not include such Tom and Huck stories as
"Tom Sawyer's Conspiracy" and "Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians."
a nearly complete novella, the former surely merits consideration. Here it
should be noted that while _Collected Tales_ draws material from many Mark
Twain Project volumes--including several volumes of posthumously published
material--the set does not use anything from _Hannibal, Huck & Tom_ (1969).

Consideration of what is _not_ in the set may illuminate Budd's criteria for
what is in it. His omission of "The Californian's Tale," "The Death Disk"
"A Horse's Tale," for example, suggests that he wished to exclude Mark
worst sentimental excesses; however, he does include "A Dog's Tale." There
several strong reasons why the maudlin "Horse's Tale" might be excluded: it
revoltingly sentimental; it is badly structured and tedious to read; and it
comparatively long at 19,000 words. Another excluded piece which is equally
long and almost as bad is "The Double-Barrelled Detective Story." Pieces
omission is more difficult to explain include the whimsical and mercifully
brief "Aurelia's Unfortunate Young Man," the peculiarly self-revelatory
"Burlesque Biography," the badly flawed but innovative "The Loves of Alonzo
Fitz Clarence and Rosannah Ethelton" and the problem-story "The Belated

One of the last major pieces that Mark Twain published during his life was
Shakespeare Dead?" Its 21,000-word length seemingly makes it eligible for
inclusion in _Collected Tales_, but it is not here. I suspect that the
may be that Budd has chosen not to include any of Mark Twain's purely
autobiographical works (and Mark Twain considered his Shakespeare essay part
his "autobiography"). Likewise, Budd does not include the essay "The Death
Jean," which Mark Twain called the "last chapter" of his autobiography.
However, if Budd is consciously excluding autobiographical pieces, why does
include the fragment titled "MacFarlane," which is also part of Mark Twain's
autobiographical writings?

Budd does not follow Neider in extracting stories and sketches from Mark
Twain's travel books. Though I normally hate reading anything that has been
condensed, abridged, or extracted from a larger work, I would have been more
than happy to make an exception of the bluejay yarn--which is scarcely an
organic part of _A Tramp Abroad_ anyway. Another component of that travel
that I would like to see in _Collected Tales_ is "The Awful German
That hysterical essay is a virtually autonomous appendix that exports nicely

_Sources of texts_

One of the most valuable features of the LOA set is Budd's extensive
bibliographical notes at the end of each volume. These sections carefully
out Budd's criteria for choosing authoritative texts. He takes about104
directly from Mark Twain Project books, including still unpublished volumes
the "Early Tales & Sketches" series. Nearly the entire first half of the
volume of _Collected Tales_ comes directly from texts corrected by the Mark
Twain Project. Budd also draws one piece from _Mark Twain's Satires &
Burlesques_, three pieces from _Mark Twain's Fables of Man_, and ten pieces
from _What Is Man? and Other Philosophical Writings_. Most of the rest of
texts come directly from a wide range of magazines and newspapers, as well
occasional books, such as _The Stolen White Elephant_, in which the pieces
first appeared. Of the 31 speeches in _Collected Tales_, all but two are
from Paul Fatout's magnificent _Mark Twain Speaking_ (1976). The others come
from a
n earlier collection edited by Paine. In every case, Budd's bibliographical
notes identify his sources, mention other publications in which the pieces
published, give dates of composition, and remark occasionally on special
textual problems. Each note is thus a valuable mini-essay in its own right.


Budd's chronology is much longer than those of LOA's earlier Mark Twain
and is the fullest that I have ever seen published. In the absence of a
substantive introduction to the set, the chronology doubles as a condensed
biography of Mark Twain. Its entries, which tend not to limit themselves to
narrow dates, are often so prolix that they can be difficult to use. The
on the year 1885, for example, is an unbroken paragraph extending over
nearly a
page and a half of about 8-point type, leaving the reader to pick through a
great deal of small print to find the salient details. Leaving aside whether
much prose even belongs in something called a "chronology," a more serious
criticism that can be leveled at the chronology is its occasional and
unnecessary lack of specificity. For example, the long entry on 1899 states
that Mark Twain took his family "to Budapest for a week" but it does not say
_which week_. I see no good reason why the exact dates or simply "late
d not be inserted here.

In reading the chronology carefully and comparing its entries against my own
extensive chronology notes, I found a trifling number of errors (such as the
date for Pamela Clemens Moffett's death); however, I used Budd's chronology
correct a larger number of errors in my own notes. Despite my quibbles,
chronology is probably the best yet published on Mark Twain's life. Perhaps
is because the chronology is so good that LOA chose to print it in its
in both _Collected Tales_ volumes. By design or chance, it is paginated
identically in the two books (pages 949-997)--a happy congruence that should
minimize confusion in citations. On the other hand, I suspect that people in
the habit of writing marginal notes in their books may occasionally think
they're being gaslighted when they find their own notes mysteriously
and disappearing as they go back and forth between volumes. Since most
purchasers of these volumes probably buy both of them, the decision to p
rint the entire chronology twice must be questioned since it duplicates 50
pages that could have been eliminated to reduce costs and bulk or used for
other material--such as an integrated index to both volumes. Some of the
salvaged pages could have been used to make the chronology easier to read by
spreading it out with larger type and more paragraph breaks.

_Budd as editor_
LOA volumes traditionally downplay their editors, whose roles are typically
merely perfunctory. Budd's contributions to _Collected Tales_ are, however,
such an exceptional nature that it is a shame that his name appears neither
the books' covers nor on their title pages. The dust jacket blurbs and the
catalog call him the set's "editor"; however, nothing inside the books
themselves calls him that. While LOA is not treating Budd differently than
other editors, there are few on its list whose contributions are remotely
comparable. Consider, for instance, the volume of William Dean Howells
"edited" by Edwin H. Cady. The effort going into that volume entailed
four novels and writing 16 pages of chronology and notes. By contrast,
_Collected Tales_ required Budd to select and find authoritative texts for
separate pieces and write a total of about 175 pages of chronology and
notes--virtually a book in itself. If this effort doesn't merit title-page
credit, what does? Is the issue trivial? I think not. When Clive James wrote
long essay on _Collected Tales_ for the _New Yorker_ (14 June 1993), he
neglected to mention Budd's name.


LOA volumes straddle a line between scholarly and popular editions, with a
clear nod toward the latter. One cannot object, however, to the minor
concessions that this policy leads to, so long as the result is a wider
dissemination of Mark Twain's works. The fact that LOA has issued a fourth
volume of Mark Twain writings this year indicates the policy's success.
one must surmise that in licensing texts from the Mark Twain Papers, LOA is
contributing materially to the survival of that project, while helping to
attention to its work.

LOA has achieved an admirable publishing record since it was launched in
In just over a dozen years, it has issued more than five dozen volumes. Some
day it will be interesting to look over the complete list of LOA titles and
consider the extent to which they reflect changing tastes and priorities. As
one would expect, the series' earliest volumes tend to emphasize mainstream
classics: Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman and Harriet
Beecher Stowe. Almost from its start, however, LOA has shown a remarkable
openness. As early as its sixth and seventh volumes, for example, it began
publishing the works of Jack London--both his popular novels _and_ his
left-leaning socialist writings. Actually, it is difficult to see any clear
trends in the LOA's short publishing history. When LOA published Richard
Wright's works in 1991, for example, it also issued new editions of works by
Washington Irving, Francis Parkman and James Fenimore Cooper. Through all
years, however, Mark Twain has remained a constant. His _Mississippi
appeared during the LOA's first year and _Innocents Abroad_ and _Roughing
appeared two years later. _Collected Tales_ followed after an eight-year gap
and _Historical Romances_ (_The Prince and the Pauper_, _A Connecticut
and _Joan of Arc_) appeared this year. Of Mark Twain's original books, this
leaves only _The Gilded Age_, _A Tramp Abroad_, _The American Claimant_,
_Following the Equator_, _Tom Sawyer Abroad_ and _Tom Sawyer, Detective_
unpublished by LOA.

None of the quibbles that I have raised can detract from the valuable
that Louis J. Budd and LOA have performed in publishing _CollectedTales_.
volumes are likely to remain centerpieces in the private libraries of Mark
Twain aficionados for a long time to come. Perhaps publication of the set
inspire someone to create a table--or series of tables--that displays the
relation of its contents to other anthologies. At the least, I would like to
see simple lists of the contents of such volumes as _Sketches, New & Old_,
_Literary Essays_, _The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories_,
so on, with indications of which titles are in _Collected Tales_ and which
not. It would do me a world of good to know which of my stacks of red,
blue, buff, and gray Harper's volumes I can retire once and for all to the


I would like to thank Kevin Bochynski for his assistance in my preparation
this review.

_R. Kent Rasmussen lives in Thousand Oaks, California. He is an editor
at Salem Press, a former associate editor of the Marcus Garvey Papers
at UCLA, and the author of _Mark Twain A to Z_ (to be published in
spring 1995 by Facts On File)._