In the various replies defending Mark Twain against the charge of
pedophilia I didn't notice any references to the single best rebuttal that
has thus far appeared in print, John Cooley's MARK TWAIN'S AQUARIUM: THE
SAMUEL CLEMENS ANGELFISH CORRESPONDENCE 1905-1910 (Athens: U of Georgia P,
1991). On page 283 of that book, for example, Cooley calmly explains:
"The Aquarium gave Clemens great pleasure during a period that was
otherwise filled with bitterness and unhappiness; there is no evidence to
suggest real impropriety or scandal in connection with any of the
angelfish. Perhaps his greatest crime was stereotyping and idealizing the
lives of these young women." In another passage, Cooley writes: "Clemens
was probably in love with his memory of himself as a boy or young man. . .
. His angelfish behavior was certainly unusual, even obsessive, but it was
also the final expression of a lifelong love affair with his teenage years"
(p. 282). Cooley's book makes a quiet but persuasive case against the
views that MARK TWAIN: GOD'S FOOL (1975) encouraged, and to me his MARK
TWAIN'S AQUARIUM is the more convincing perspective.
Auburn University at Montgomery
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At 05:32 PM 1/5/98 -0500, you wrote:
>I recently met a woman who claimed that it is a little known fact that
Mark Twain was a pedophile in the last few years of his life. She claimed
that there is solid evidence of such activity with one of his nieces and
perhaps some other young girls. I found this hard to believe, but do not
know enough about his later years to contradict her. Has anybody heard
these allegations before and is there any truth to them? Also, if these
allegations have been aired, what evidence was she referring to?