Wed, 23 Nov 1994 10:51:28 -0400
Paul Berkowitz and others have raised good questions about the sources of
Twain's despair that washes through most of his later writings. The personal
reasons for his depressive viewpoint are well documented and numerous,
starting with the death of his daughter Susy in 1896, the same year he
published JOAN OF ARC. Yet during his Angelfish years (1905-1910), his
letters and notebook entries about the thirteen girls who corresponded and
visited him reveal a degree of happiness most grandfathers could envy.
In editing these letters for the edition MARK TWAIN'S AQUARIUM I was often
struck by their dramatic contrast to most of his later writing, especially
the NO. 44 MYSTERIOUS STRANGER manuscripts..
We're onto a topic that could certainly bear further scrutiny. Could Twain
not be both despairing over the human condition and prospect (perhaps
particularly over the forces of imperialism ) yet capable of a modicum of
personal pleasure after years of personal tragedy?
John Cooley, Western Michigan Univ.