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Larry Howe <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 18 Sep 2000 12:14:20 -0700
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I note in Christmas's review a theme that has emerged before: the
claiming of Mark Twain as a pretense to sell something else.
According to the review, Leckey has been a little more careful than
some others, as his or his editor's idea to invite Lou Budd to write
the preface shows.   But as Christmas points out, the rest of the
associations to Twain are thin if not uninformed.    My point isn't to
take Leckey to task, but to ask the members of the list to consider
why Twain has such cultural power and if that cultural power is at
risk by these appropriations.

Why do publicists for professional baseball players erroneously claim
to be his descendants (Paul O'Neill), or do the developers of
condominiums emblazon their buildings with his name (Berkeley, CA).
What do they gain from these forged associations?   What impact do
such associations have on the memory of Twain or his cultural power?
Do these uses of Twain help to maintain his memory, or is he being
converted to a marketing tool like Betty Crocker?   Should we as a
community interested in the life SLC and the works of  Twain be
concerned that some are attempting to make hay from meaningless or at
best weak associations to his legacy?