I'm not sure about your nomination process; unofficial deans of anything don't really seem to be chosen but simply emerge. However, I think we've got to acknowledge one huge accomplishment that Alan Gribben has achieved: just when the 100th anniversary and autobiography hoopla was seeming to subside, along comes a new infusion of Twain-mania into public culture. I'm not sure we needed this so soon, but any enthusiasm about Twain in the vast network of public awareness is a good thing. In fact, as much as 2010 did for Twain, the outpouring on this one topic has been a tsunami that may outswell the centennial.
As Tracy Wuster's post has shown, the reading of the Constitution on the floor of the House has now been linked with the NewSouth edition of AHF. In one short week, we've had a phenomenal amount of discussion not just about the importance of Mark Twain to American culture but also about how words and texts matter. We should all be grateful for that regardless of our position on the particulars of Gribben's editing.
By the way, Warren Spahn was a pitcher.
From: Mark Twain Forum [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Harold Bush [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, January 07, 2011 10:02 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: the new "dean" of MT scholarship
Folks; I'm still working through the implications of all this about AHF,
but can now throw in a few cents -- sitting here in LA and waiting for the
book exhibit to open (it was NOT open yesterday, for some unexplained
I begin with an anecdote about Ted Williams -- who, when he passed, was
considered the "greatest living ballplayer." Immediately the debate ensued,
about who was his logical replacement. Was it Warren Spahn? Willie Mays?
Henry Aaron??? or (gasp!) a pitcher -- Bob Gibson? Bob Feller (who just
died a few months ago)??
Anyway, yes-- I do have a point. It seems strange, even uncanny, that this
debate is timed just after the passing of Lou Budd, our own "best
ballplayer," by many accounts. Because in my view, there are just a few
other special scholars whose name I would utter as a potential new "dean" of
One of them is Alan Gribben. I admit I was very surprised to hear that he
was behind this new project. But for now, and with all my reservations
about what this brouhaha entails -- I'd like to give Alan a little leeway
here, and I also think I'd like to speak on his behalf as one of the kindest
and most knowledgeable Twain scholars. There have been a few (vague)
comments on here directed at Alan that approached the line between fair and
mean, and that is very unfortunate.
I do have reservations about this new, edited (bowdlerized?) text -- but
Alan's credentials are impeccable and his character is well known to all of
us. I guess I'd mostly like to corner him and hear his explanation, because
I'm sure he has one.
Harold K. Bush, Ph.D
Professor of English
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, MO 63108
314-977-3616 (w); 314-771-6795 (h)