TWAIN-L Archives

Mark Twain Forum


Options: Use Classic View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Laura Trombley <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 1 Jan 2024 16:58:10 -0800
text/plain (149 lines)
Always nice to read about the same issue again and again. I agree with Jim
(as well as Gary). Clemens was a clever fellow and surely could hold two
kinda opposing thoughts in his head: Drinks and the drink.
Happy new year!

On Sat, Dec 30, 2023 at 11:14 AM James E Caron <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Here's two or three cents worth of thought.
> (for who can resist a good academic controversy, especially when there can
> be no definitive answer?)
> First there is the inference from 0000002(etc) that the answer to the
> riddle is SLC's state of mind about choosing a nom-de-plume that sticks,
> obviously speculation, which is fine, because all the arguments rest first
> on speculation, with varying sorts of evidence to back them up.
> The notion that SLC was tutored by Wm Wright on the issue, however, doesn't
> work because Wright was on an extended vacation back home to Iowa when Sam
> first signed a squib "Mark Twain" in February 1863. Sam was hired to cover
> for Wright, who doesn't return to Nevada until the end of the summer.
> Also, the claim that Sam knew his fate was to be a writer and so gave lots
> of thought to the nom-de-plume is suspect, first because doing the sort of
> journalism he was practicing in Nevada was not the same as a career as a
> writer.
> The difference became apparent when Sam in the summer of 1864 very
> seriously thought about quitting Nevada altogether and returning to the
> river as a pilot in the pay of the Federal government: twice the salary he
> was getting at the time from the SF Call. Mining stocks were devaluing from
> the height of the 1863 boom, and he was not the hotshot in SF he was in
> Nevada after being effectively exiled from the territory after the Sanitary
> Fund fiasco.
> I agree with Kevin that having a nom-de-plume associated with beer drinking
> would not have deterred Sam. In early 1863, his main audience were all "the
> boys" working the mines. It would be a good joke to go with all the joking
> and bantering and hoaxing he had been doing before "Mark Twain" appeared.
> AND...  he would surely have also associated the name with the river from
> his piloting days, as Max argues in his interesting article about the
> autobiography.
> Final thought: why is there any controversy? Why can't it be that the bar
> tab theory as well as the leadsman's cry are both the sources? Why choose
> at all?
> (Sorry Kevin, but to me those speculations seem more probable, maybe
> especially harnessed together, than the Vanity Fair argument.)
> The story Sam concocts for the Langdons about Isiah Sellers was necessary
> to scrub the bar-tab story from the record, a very different circumstance
> from the conviviality of Piper's Saloon. Wanting to appear as respectable
> as possible, Sam was then all about the river and not about lager beer, as
> 0000002(etc) suggests. His state of mind as he campaigns for Livy's hand
> looks clear on the matter.
> On Fri, Dec 29, 2023 at 4:25 PM <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Those are interesting comments. But don't you think somebody like
> > Clemens, afflicted with venereal disease, ADHD, and latent
> > pedophilia--as a certain recent biography sensationally claims--would be
> > the same sort of fellow to pick up his nom de plume in a bar?
> >
> > OK, seriously, my brief response to the latest Scharnhorst screed will
> > appear in the next Mark Twain Journal. It will involve lager beer, pale
> > ale, and another hoax that Alf Doten published that is also located in
> > Piper's Saloon (and drew a crowd).
> >
> > Happy holidays everyone!
> >
> > Kevin
> > @
> > Mac Donnell Rare Books
> > 9307 Glenlake Drive
> > Austin TX 78730
> > 512-345-4139
> >
> > You can browse our books at:
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ------ Original Message ------
> > From: [log in to unmask]
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Sent: 12/29/2023 3:06:10 PM
> > Subject: Comment on the Nomme de Plume
> >
> > >I have been re-reading Gary Scharnhorst's fall 2023 MT Journal article
> on
> > Sam Clemens earning the nickname "Mark Twain" from a bar tab. I found the
> > list of editors who copied the article on the topic interesting, while
> > remembering that when Jules Verne wrote "In Search of The Castaways" in
> > 1868 he had one of the characters say "A falsehood repeated a hundred
> times
> > does not become a truth by the mere force of repetition." I have trouble
> > believing that Sam Clemens would allow a somewhat derogatory reference to
> > his love of lager beer to become his trade mark. Before joining the staff
> > of the Territorial Enterprise, Sam had written letters from a mining camp
> > and signed them "Josh." Now Sam was on that newspaper's staff, working
> with
> > and doubtless being mentored by William Wright, who wrote under the
> > colorful nomme de plume of Dan DeQuille. Ohio born Wright was six years
> > Sam's senior. I am not aware that any of Sam's early Comstock Humor
> writing
> > at the paper in the fall of 1862 was signed. It was, however, clear to
> > readers that the new local writer Sam Clemens was occasionally "roasting"
> > his friend "The Unreliable" (opposition newspaper writer C. T. Rice). In
> > the letter introducing Mark Twain, "the Unreliable" is used as the key to
> > tell readers who is introducing the name "Mark Twain." I am also
> > comfortable in the belief that William Wright would have steered Sam
> > Clemens away from any of the "nommes" Sam had used in the past. While the
> > "DeQuille" nomme captures Wright's love of writing, "Mark Twain" hearkens
> > back to Sam's beloved days on the Mississippi River. Both DeQuille and
> > Twain, as names, have a personal tie to the individual. In the February
> 2,
> > 1863 publication of his "letter" he has the dreamer greeted by "The
> > Unreliable" as "Mark" in the text. I believe it is the longest piece of
> > mixed roast and humor Sam Clemens ever wrote. He gave a great deal of
> > thought to that piece. To me, the long letter and the use of the name in
> > the text seem like the studied introduction of a permanent trade mark.
> The
> > all too common humorist name Josh was already shopworn by others, and had
> > come to be associated with (if not the parent of the word) "joshing." Sam
> > Clemens had more in mind. He was to be a writer. He had reached the point
> > in his career to emerge with a permanent name that no one else could use,
> > much like DeQuille. Meaningful to him, easy to say or read, and fitting
> his
> > self image and comfortable to him. I do not dismiss Kevin MacDonnell's
> > source that the personification of a measure of depth into a name could
> > well have come from Vanity Fair, but if so, between reading it and
> writing
> > it the pen name Mark Twain underwent a lot of thought by Samuel Langhorne
> > Clemens. And then he launched it in the winter of 1862-63.
> >

*Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. Joan Didion*