As mere high school teacher, I'm fascinated by your idea of Huck and Tom as
twin Twains (interesting name he picked!) For what it's worth I found MT's
treatment of the father and mother figures in Huck very interesting. The
respectable ones, like Judge Thatcher and Col.Grangerford, seem not subjected to
ridicule (I detect no subtext of mockery in descriptions of the Colonel, even the
morning toast, but instead ultimately a tragic effect). But the ones he IS
close to--Pap and the Duke and King--are much less gently treated. Maybe that's
the sort of bifurcation you were talking about? The mother-figure women
(except Miss Watson, who is mostly harmless, at least to Tom and Huck) are uniformly
respectable and benevolent--the Widow, Aunt Sally, Mrs. Loftus--as are a
whole slew (slough? sloo? slue?) of Beautiful and Proud Young Women, like Mary
Jane Wilkes and the Grangerford girl, on whom Huck seems to have innocent
Anyway I can't wait to read something by you. I once wrote an essay on Huck
Finn and America's Symbolic Landscape" for Virginia English Bulletin, Winter
1986--I'd be happy to send it to you. I'm not sure if I still agree with
everything I said there. I was young and irresponsible...
Commonwealth Governor's School
In a message dated 3/22/2008 8:45:12 AM Eastern Standard Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:
Sharon,?thanks for the warm wishes and support.? I completely agree with you
that mine and others' lack of participation may be from those insecure
feelings, and I often think that Twain himself was like-minded in his insecurities.?
I call it "Imposter Phenomenon" and think that?many of us?try not to be found
out.? I think I may?once again hop off my fence occasionally to post a query
or answer one.?
Ultimately, I think all of this "raucus" has been a cathartic experience for
me, and I hope for many others.? I very much admire all the Twain scholars
and?lay people (like myself) on this List and would hope to continue to
participate in the discussions and sharing of our love and knowledge of Twain.?
That being said, I'm working on an idea regarding Twain and boyhood.? I'm
basically, besides a Twain scholar, a children's literature scholar and have
viewed Twain's writing from that point of view.? The focus of much of my studies
has been?the idea regarding Twain and twins (Pudd'nhead Wilson's twins and then
Tom and Huck) and?how they are basically reflective of the author's own
dualistic feelings of identity as an American man.?I have an idea about
Huck,?Tom,?and Twain, not only as Hemingway said,?that?Huck Finn?is the "best book we've
had . . . [and] all American writing comes from that," but also that Twain
shaped our American view of boyhood and manhood.? My study has begun with a look
at Twain's "Story of a Bad Little Boy" and compare his prototype with the
Victorian view of boyhood and manhood.? Tom and Huck, I would say, are twins of
Twain and reflect his two sided persona and that two-sided American male
(the?socialite or the rebel; the intellect?or the "he-man").?!
?If any of you have any ideas supporting or questioning this, I'd appreciate
your thoughts. Or if you've written, or others have written, something related
closely, or not so closely, I thank you for any input.
So, now that I've officially hopped off my fencepost, I hope that other
"lurkers" (as my teenage daughter would call us) will come out of the shadows and
Thank you ,Sharon, again for your kind words and proverbial kick in the pants.
Carolyn Leutzinger Richey
From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Fri, 21 Mar 2008 8:47 pm
Subject: Re: Humble Observations
I'm not up to the Forum right now (sitting on my own fencepost) but I
couldn't let this pass.? It breaks my heart to hear you say that you have chosen not
to speak sometimes because of the elitism or the sniping on the forum.? I
don't know if you find my own postings "scholarly enough"--not really sure what
that means--but if you ever think that I'd be a help to you in your research, or
it you just have some neat ideas you'd like to bounce around, on the forum or
off, I hope that you will write. ?
When I joined the forum, I was quiet for a very long time, and it took a lot
of courage to make that first posting--it was like a bibliography come alive,
and I was terrified of making the wrong move.? But I've never regretted it.?
And, like you, I've been to Elmira and have been astonished and gratified by
the support and collegiality.
And somewhat taken aback by the ego-bruising that seems to go on.? But I've
found that a lot of the apparent "elitism" comes from a concern that one's own
work is being ignored, or that others don't find it "scholarly enough" or
"important enough"--in other words, from some deep insecurities.? I find that if I
listen to what a person is working on, I learn a lot--and then they're
willing to answer any question I might have.
My point is, these are insecurities I think we all share--whether we react to
it by becoming silent, acting as an all-knowing authority, blustering hurtful
expletives simply to get the attention we crave, or by continuing on with the
work regardless of our insecurities, because the work has us by the heart and
won't let go....
While Twain's nature and the satire he reveled in might encourage the
bifurcation among his fans who focus on different things, as you cogently suggest
below, he also inspires us to lead with the heart.
Carry on with the work and follow your heart.? Don't worry about what someone
might say--care enough to pursue it with rigor and passion, and if someone
might have information for you or a direction for you, then dog their
footsteps.? The work matters.? You matter.
And anyone who says different needs to play the king's role in the Royal
Nonesuch for a few nights in a rough Arkansas town.
Those are my humble observations.
-------------- Original message from Carolyn Leutzinger Richey
<[log in to unmask]>: --------------
> My apologies, for some reason the translation from my computer and post was
> inundated with question marks and with reappearance of some deleted words.?
> really not that poor of an editor.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Carolyn Leutzinger Richey
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Fri, 21 Mar 2008 12:54 pm
> Subject: Humble Observations
> I have for a long time been a member of this List and have, in the past,
> participated in the wonderful conversations about Twain.? Early on, I was
> willing to respond to other's comments and postings and to initiate my
> However, as the years have gone by, I feel somewhat intimidated that my
> will not sound "scholarly" enough.? I am a college Lecturer/teacher; I shy
> from calling myself "professor" as I have only an MA---But, I have been
> Twain to my?university students regularly since 1992.? I have participated
> several of the conferences held in Elmira and thoroughly enjoyed the
> discussions.? I have written several book reviews for the forum and for
> publications, but I have not written any books on Twain.? I have only
> MA thesis on my favorite writer and fellow Missourian.? (I'm currently
> on a review--the first in almost a decade for the forum--on a new book from
> Rasmusson, How to Write about Mark Twain.)? A!
> s I am preparing my review of the book that I truly appreciate and find
> I am feeling that connection I always feel toward Twain and fellow
> That brings me to the purpose of my post.? Can I agree with both of the
> this ongoing debate? Can I straddle the fence?? I very much admire Jocelyn
> Chadwick and remember meeting her at one of the conferences in Elmira.?I do
> wish to see her remove herself from the List. ?I have met many of the rest
> you and admire your work also.? I do not want to see any of you remove
> yourselves from the List.?I was just the other day wondering where Camy
> I remember, as a grad student, presenting my paper to the participants of
> Elmira conference and feeling in awe of many of you.? After all, I had used
> of your scholarship in my research and writing (and the papers I
> However, I have also felt a certain, how should I put it,?"elitism"
> Twain and Twain scholarship.? I would love to ask many of you questions and
> some direction in my research.? But because of the reactions to some posts
> posters, I am reticent to do so.? I am not referring to either side of this
> debate, but to both sides of the debate.? One side likes to be provocative
> incite "trouble," while the other side likes to sound like the supreme
> authorities.?And both sides resort to name calling. ?I like it here on my
> fencepost.? I guess I am like the "suckered" audience of the Royal
> want to see how many others get suckered into the debate.? Or perhaps I am
> Pudd'nhead Wilson, I wish I owned half of the barking !
> dog because I'd shoot my half.?But then, we would not have this wonderful
> collective source on Twain.? I guess my point of all this is to say that
> this debate and bifurcation is just a reflection of the author himself.? I
> he would actively participate in both sides of this debate.??
> I am submitting this, not to drag on this "discussion," but hesitantly to
> my humble?opinion. hesitation,
> Carolyn Leutzinger Richey
> Lecturer, San Diego State University
**************Create a Home Theater Like the Pros. Watch the video on AOL