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Taylor Roberts <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 13 Jul 1995 00:06:59 EDT
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     [This is the third of three thought-provoking messages sent to me by
     Wesley Britton, and posted to the Mark Twain Forum on his behalf.
     Although Wesley does not yet have access to e-mail, discussion and
     replies concerning these postings are welcomed at
     <[log in to unmask]>; Wesley receives the Forum's log files
     periodically and follows the discussion here.  If you want to send a
     private or urgent reply to Wesley, though, you should direct it to his
     snail-mail address at the end of this message.  --Taylor Roberts]

On Twain and Whitman:

I noticed in _Forum_ logs some interest in Twain's relationship with
Whitman.  As author of the Mark Twain entry for the forthcoming _Walt
Whitman Encyclopedia_, I thought I'd share some of my findings with y'all:

Twain and Whitman showed only perfunctory interest in each other.  Whitman
said Twain "might have been something.  He comes near being something: but
he never arrives."  In turn, Twain noted "If I've become a Whitmanite I'm
sorry--I never read 40 lines of him in my life."  This claim is probably
exaggeration; Clemens' personal copy of _Leaves of Grass_ contains many
marginal comments by Clemens, and in 1897 Clemens'-owned Charles L. Webster
and Co. published _Selected Poems by Walt Whitman_ with Whitman's special

Clemens provided financial support for Whitman on several occasions
including $100 for a horse and buggy and $200 for a cottage to "make the
splendid old soul comfortable."  In 1889, Clemens sent Whitman a
complimentary copy of _A Connecticut Yankee_.

In 1884, Clemens grouped Whitman with other writers in an anecdote, and he
attended Whitman's 1887 eulogy for Lincoln at Madison Square Theater.  His
ambivalent feelings about Whitman were reflected on Whitman's seventieth
birthday when Clemens sent an impersonal, ambiguous telegram and in an
unfinished essay "The Walt Whitman Controversy" in which Clemens worried
about the sexual frankness in _Leaves of Grass_, saying the book should not
be read by children.


Kaplan, Justin. "Starting from Paumanok . . . and from Hannibal: Whitman
     and Mark Twain." _Confrontation_.  Vol. 27-28 (1984), 338-347.

Wesley Britton