Fri, 27 Jun 2003 11:37:14 -0500
Dear Mr. Lennes,
No one has yet produced any evidence that Twain definitely knew about
Melville's works. This seems odd, because Twain was fascinated with the
South Pacific and with sea stories (for example, he owned numerous novels by
William Clark Russell and praised Russell's THE WRECK OF THE "GROSVENOR").
One must always remember that Twain donated hundreds and hundreds of books
to several libraries, and the record of these donations is fragmentary.
Moreover, he mentioned that he lost at least one trunk filled with books
during his various ocean crossings. Therefore our knowledge of the exact
contents of his personal library must always remain incomplete. Melville is
a large and somewhat mysterious gap in his reading, even though of course
Melville's reputation had been in decline for several decades by the time
Twain began stocking his family's library shelves.
I wish that I had more encouraging news for you.
Author, MARK TWAIN'S LIBRARY: A RECONSTRUCTION (1980)