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Sender: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
From: Barbara Schmidt <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2015 20:36:52 -0600
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The following brief notice was written for the Mark Twain Forum by Kevin
Mac Donnell.

_Rebel Souls, Walt Whitman and America's First Bohemians_. Justin Martin.
Da Capo Press, 2014. Pp. 339. Hardcover. $27.99. ISBN 978-0-306-82226-1
(hardback), ISBN 978-0-306-82227-8 (ebook).



Justin Martin's well-written account of the New York Bohemians who
gravitated around Pfaff's Saloon on Broadway, focuses on Walt Whitman's
relationship with the group as his subtitle makes clear, but it fleshes out
the lives of many minor members of the group who figure into Mark Twain's
biography: Artemus Ward, Henry Clapp, Adah Menken, Fitz-Hugh Ludlow,
William Winter, Charles Geoffrey Leland, William Dean Howells, Fitz-James
O'Brien, Edwin Booth, George Arnold, and a few others. Martin describes the
relationships or encounters that Ward (215-18), Clapp (243-44), Menken
(211-15), and Ludlow (186) had with Mark Twain, and his accounts of Mark
Twain's encounters with Menken and Ward are especially entertaining, even
if the stories may be familiar. Although Mark Twain's connections with the
others are not explored, Twainians will find Martin's account full of
unfamiliar background information on the writers whose literature filled
the pages of Henry Clapp's _Saturday Press_ (where Mark Twain's jumping
frog story famously first appeared) and Ward and Leland's _Vanity Fair_
(the probable source of Mark Twain's nom de plume, whose discovery was made
public too late for mention in this book). The book is not flawless--this
reviewer is still trying to locate the village blacksmith (or even the
shade of his chestnut tree) under which Sam Clemens apprenticed at some
point in his career (186). Mark Twain's wise-crack about working for a
blacksmith appears in chapter 42 of _Roughing It_, but should not be taken
too seriously. The lack of a bibliography is a hindrance even if the
endnotes and index are excellent. Martin does not seem to have consulted
two important sources on Bohemian literature, Mikhail Bakhtin's _Rabelais
and His World_ (2009) and Stallybrass and White's, _The Politics and
Poetics of Transgression_ (1986), and the publisher's claim that this is
the first book ever written about the American Bohemians ignores Albert
Parry's well-known _Garrets and Pretenders, a History of Bohemianism in
America_ (1933) which Martin cites several times. But the book succeeds
despite these drawbacks, and Martin's account is a lively tale, informative
and well-told, and makes a good companion volume to Ben Tarnoff's _The
Bohemians_, an equally readable account of Mark Twain and the San Francisco
Bohemians (Bret Harte, Ina Coolbrith, and Charles W. Stoddard) who
enlivened his San Francisco years. One source heavily replied upon by
Martin may be of further interest to Twainians who wish to pursue his
connections with the east coast Bohemians, the 'Vault at Pfaff's' digital
archive hosted online by Lehigh University, a rewarding treasure trove of
biographies and writings by Mark Twain's fellow rebels.

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