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"ALAN C. REESE" <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 22 Dec 1993 20:57:15 -0500
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Please forward this to andy hoffman; I don't want to bother myself.

        It is clear that mr. hoffman is confused about our objections to
his "hypothesis" concerning Twain's sexual experiences. Clearly he has not
read Mr. Dagnall's postings carefully or followed the threads from earlier
postings in August and September.  What Mr. Dagnall objects to, I believe,
is hoffman's gross speculations based on the thinnest shreds of evidence.
I have read Mr. hoffman's paper, I heard him present it in Elmira, and I
spoke to him about it afterwards. I don't see it as an attack on Twain. I
wouldn't care if Twain had sex with elephants and the barky boles of trees.
I do care that a researcher turns up a few shreds of evidence and concocts
some half baked "hypothesis" to foist on academic circles before launching
it like a tomahawk missile on the reading public. Speculation is fine and
dandy, mr. hoffman, but it should balance on something more substantial
than a pile of noodles. The leap of faith you ask us to make would require
booster rockets with enough power to take us to the end of the universe and
back. Project possibilities, question situations, but don't wave the red
flag of hypothesis at the bulls in the Forum pen. I'll wait for that
"hard" evidence before I buy your "might have had"s and "'could have been"s.

        I admire the wide range of your research, but like Twain if you find
yourself at the bottom of a deep hole without turning up any gold nuggets
shovelfuls of dirt falling back down on your head, it's high time to climb
out and start looking for a more meaningful enterprise.

Alan C. Reese
Baltimore, MD