Wed, 22 Dec 1993 15:01:24 EST
Please forward this to the Forum; I don't know how myself.
It is clear that Mr. Dagnall is confused about my work on Mark Twain.
He has not read the paper he criticises, else his references would be more
correct and precise; his allegation that my hypothesis relies on minimal
evidence or shoddy scholarship consequently deserves no mention. The only
revealing comment Mr. Dagnall has made is that he sees my argument that SLC
might have had homosexual relationships as an attack on Mark Twain. Where
the attack, unless same-sex experimentation is a crime, a sign or moral
weakness or a character flaw? I certainly intended no attack on Clemens,
made none. My goal has always been to offer a reasonable alternative view
an aspect of Twain's biography in which hard evidence is lacking. We could,
course, decide as scholars to say absolutely nothing we could not prove,
that would silence most of the humanities. No one knows what sexual conduct
attribute to Sam Clemens during his Western years. My hypothesis might be
entirely wrong, but a solid share of responsible scholars of Twain, 19th
America and the American West don't think so. I have also yet to read or
arguments against my evidence. Against my hypothesis, plenty of course.
against me too. I don't mind that. But I do wonder if the Mark Twain Forum
ought to allow ad hominem arguments to fly between its subscribers. I still
believe the hypothesis -- since the truth remains unknowable, such
are necessary, however mealy-mouthed they appear -- is the best construct we
n make of MT's sexual behavior out West. What interpretation of Clemens'
relationship with Charles Warren Stoddard in the winter of 1873-4 in London
makes the most sense to Forum subscribers? This is not a trick question;
thorough research can lead to any conclusion at all. For those of you most
disturbed by my hypothesis, the research will be most rewarding.