Dear fellow students of Mark Twain--
I am a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University who is writing a
paper on Mark Twain that examines his readership. I'm in the early stages
of my work, and at this point I am aiming at developing a composite "sketch"
of the typical American reader (I'm not going to try to include European or
worldwide readers) and show the links between Twain's instincts about or
knowledge of his audience and how that affected his character developments,
the moral positions of his fiction, and other features of his writing.
I will be looking at Louis Budd's Our Mark Twain, Charles L. Webster's Mark
Twain Businessman, Beverley David's two volumes of Mark Twain and His
Illustrators, and Larzer Ziff's new book Mark Twain as well as
representative Twain fictions like "Hadleyburg" (as a town whose inhabitants
might be said to reflect Twain's perception of his audience). I'll also be
using interviews of Twain (using Budd's compilation) along with the
demographic evidence from several literary magazines like "Harper's (Weekly,
Monthly, and Bazar)," "Cosmopolitan," "Century," and New American Review" as
they were journals in which much of his work was published.
As this is a topic that has not (to my knowledge) been studied directly in
and of itself, I would appreciate any guidance Forum members might give me
toward scholarship that I should include or any other ideas about what I
Thanks very much.