I'll second that. Charles Neider's editorial choices may have been at times suspect, but his great enthusiasm and activity undoubtedly swept many into the Twain fold. A first edition of "The Autobiography of Mark Twain" was placed in my hands when I started reading Twain in high school, and it seemed like a monumental addition to a growing shelf of Twain books (anything that wasn't widely available in a Signet or Airmont paperback seemed like a monumental addition back then). Scholarship and scholarly editions lapped Neider's efforts after the publication of the "complete" short stories and his edition of the "Autobiography," but I'll also acknowledge the early influence. He helped lead a lot of folks in Twain's direction, and that's an accomplishment worth noting.
On Monday, January 19, 2015 5:05 AM, Kent Rasmussen <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
While in the midst of researching Mark Twain's autobiography, I just
noticed that yesterday, Sunday, was the 100th anniversary of Charles
Neider's birth on January 18, 1915. Neider, as I'm sure most of you know
published _The Autobiography of Mark Twain_ in 1959, arranging the
material in an approximation of a cradle-to-grave narrative that differs
greatly from the new University of California Press edition of the same
material. Neider's version is still in print (at least in a Kindle
edition) and has probably been read by more people than any other edition.
Neider died in 2001. Though almost forgotten today, he had an enormous
impact on Mark Twain studies and on public perceptions of Mark Twain
through the numerous volumes of Mark Twain's stories, sketches, essays,
novels, letters, and speeches that he edited. Among those volumes is
_The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain_ (first published in 1957 and
still available in a Kindle edition), which is almost certainly the most
widely read collection of Mark Twain's stories ever published. While we
should thank Neider for helping to keep Mark Twain's name alive through
such books, we must also regret has lapses, such as including the
editorial fraud "The Mysterious Stranger" in his short story collection.
I’ll end this note by acknowledging that Neider’s collections of Mark
Twain’s stories, sketches, and essays played an important role in
drawing me into Mark Twain studies. I don’t know whether that fact
should be placed in his credit column or his debit column, but wherever
he is now, I’ll wish him a happy birthday.