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Sender: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
From: andy hoffman <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tue, 9 Jul 1996 10:57:19 EDT
In-Reply-To: Message of Wed, 26 Jun 1996 09:27:20 -0400 from <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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Pardon me if the discussion of Nigey Lennon's essay has reached an end, but
have just now had the chance to read it -- the gate-keepers of Brown's
 system have made it difficult even for faculty to get their email -- and
I just had to respond.  The most annoying part of her essay isn't the basic
errors in fact which she sprinkles throughout, to give credence to her claim
as a non-academic, I suppose, but the mistaken notions of what most people
know about Mark Twain seem to think about him.  List-members don't need an
directory to find Lennon's slip-ups, but I will point out the most laughable
one: her accusation that Justin Kaplan -- a Pulitzer and National Book Award
Winner for _Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain_, in case anyone has forgotten that
biography was a truly great one -- must have projected his own neuroses onto
his portrait of Twain, when in fact her essays purposely ignores the delight
SLC took in his Oxford robes and his honorary degree in order to argue that
despised academia, as she herself plainly does.  Anyone have any doubt who
might be guilty of projection?
     What is the point of dressing down Nigey Lennon?  Well, I would like to
save other scholars the trouble of reading her books on Twain, which, like
essay, are riddled with mistakes in names, dates, titles and who knows
  Worse, she claims to have made original contributions to Twain
scholarship --
 in fact, the point of her essay is that her contributions to Twain studies
have been grievously and wrongfully ignored -- when in fact her books are
only shamelessly derrivative, but full of misquotation in the process.  She
 be a perfectly pleasant woman, and I would love to read a good book about
Frank Zappa (I camer a cross a Zappa quote lately, which goes something
"Sometimes you can't write a chord ugly enough to represent your feelings,
so y
ou need a giraffe filled with whipped cream."), but to insult the dedicated
folk at the  Mark Twain Papers because people have ignored her bad books on
 subject seems wildly unjust.
     People have already defended the people at the Mark Twain Papers, and I
can't imagine there is anyone on this list who believes Lennon's
If she can produce her "original research" and show that our intrepid
at the Mark Twain Papers plagiarized it, I'd agree she deserves credit.  But
the _Roughing It_ volume is meant as a reference book, and not as a volume
make anyone a name or money.  Good scholarship calls for accurate sources,
for royalty payments.
    Which is not to say royalties are important.  Like Nigey Lennon, I am a
writer first and an academic later.  I think people would take her a lot
seriously if she proved herself in her work, instead of in mean-spirited,
-headed accusations against when is arguably the best publishing archive in
 world.  Does she just want to sell books?  Do some real research and find
something interesting and new.  Hey, it has worked for me.

Andy Hoffman