Mark Twains Letters, 1876-1880: Volume 3, 1878

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Bridgewater, Jane, Oath of Allegiance, Straub, David, Certificates, Scott, Thomas A. Stuart, J. Tyler, John, Jr. Whitehorne, J. Edwards, Robert, Letters, Craghead, Harry, Letter, Clay, W. Ryan, N. Price, Sterling , Papers, Wilson, Andrew J. Bates, Moses, Deed, Dowell, Samuel, Military Land Grant, Duncan-Lowman Family, Papers, Clemons Family, Papers, Missouri, Cooper County. Assessment Lists, McDearmon, James R. Fresh, James, Letters, Mase, Adam , Record Book, Jones, Hezekiah, Land Grant, Dearing, Julia Ann, Letter, Austin, William W.

Cowan, James S. Fry, A. Appleby, John , Letter, Howard, Jacob, Diploma, Bright, Mrs. Fresh, John H. Younger, Charles, Will, Seymour, Robert B. Tootle and Armstrong, St. Joseph, Missouri, Memorandum, Everts, Wilson and Company Letter, As contradictory as these readings seem to be, at least one similarity connects them.

Thus, many literary critics mirror in a more nuanced form the popular conception of Mark Twain, while marginalizing or excusing his darker and more complicated responses to American culture and history. One of the aims of this volume is to offer a corrective to the dominant perception of Mark Twain, or at least to map out another landscape for critical inquiry, by locating Twain in the urban centers where he lived so much of his life.

This collection, which directly confronts notions of Mark Twain as an embodiment of rural American values, will present a less familiar portrait of the author and his position in American culture. Of course, the irony here is that this urban and urbane Mark Twain may, in fact, be completely true to himself—even in the last chapters of Huck Finn. In other words, Twain represents that part of the American psyche formed and informed by urban experience. As for Mark Twain himself, he is no country boy longing to go fishing on the Mississippi. As the essays in this collection argue, Twain is a cosmopolitan: he is competitive, skeptical, necessarily tolerant, passionately secular, multilingual and multicultural, frankly materialistic and acquisitive.

Ryan New York City than in Hannibal. Even here, Twain was drawn to a city, San Francisco, where he would begin his first sustained analysis of the mechanisms and rhythms of urban life: criminal acts and the sensational treatment of them; the pretentious and playful lives of the rich and famous; the friction and attraction between the races. After less than four years out West, a period that included a trip to Hawaii, Twain returned East—to New York, Buffalo, and Hartford—never again to reside in the wilds or at the margins of American life.

The fact that Twain set up domestic spaces in London or Vienna or New York is presented as a necessary hiatus in his frenetic travels, dictated by logistics more than by design. However, to characterize Twain as a tourist suggests that he did little more than take his show on the road. Even beyond reinforcing the image of Mark Twain as the prototypical American, these performances effectively propagated what would become a hegemonic American culture.

Ryan travels as both a capitalist and an imperial enterprise. Samuel Clemens used Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the South Pacific as raw materials that, once acted upon by his imaginative machinery, enabled him to create a distinctly American product: the narrative voice and persona of Mark Twain. Twain understood the power of his persona and would, like Edgar Bergen with Charlie McCarthy, trot this sometimes wooden self out upon the stage and produce the commodity for which he was being paid. That his audiences and readers were—and to some extent still are—convinced of the authenticity of this character is a tribute to the genius of Twain as both performer and artist.

To confuse this performing persona with the person of Mark Twain, a transference made so absolutely by his reading public that Twain felt sometimes trapped by the image he had crafted, is to miss the complicated literary and political evolution precipitated by his cosmopolitan life.

In the introduction to their volume on cosmopolitan theory and practice, Carol A. Breckenridge, Sheldon Pollock, Homi Bhabha, and Dipesh Chakrabarty describe one of the distinguishing aspects of a cosmopolitan identity: a feeling of being at once displaced and interconnected, of being both unified and eclectic. Although Twain represented himself as just such an ass, over time his alle3.

Breckenridge et al. Durham: Duke University Press, , Mark Twain and the Cosmopolitan Ideal 9 giances and his values shifted; no longer content to be a hometown hero, he became, instead, a citizen of the world. In this move from the parochial to the global, Twain is less unique than we might suppose. Cities across the globe were assuming their modern dimensions, adapting to the technologies of modernity and acquiring the massive populations needed to sustain their economies.

Concurrent with the westward expansion of nineteenth-century America was the growth of its urban centers. New York, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco all more than doubled over the course of the century as immigrants, displaced workers, bohemians, and entrepreneurs converged upon American cities. Meanwhile, London ended the nineteenth century with a population of 6. Mark Twain was one of those millions, and he did not merely travel to or through American and European cities, recording his witticisms along the way; he sought them out.

Twain was an urban citizen for most of his adult life, and even on those occasions when he set up his home in a suburban space—whether renting a villa outside Florence or transplanting his family to Riverdale, just north of New York—he was drawn into the life of the city. In his travel narratives, particularly Innocents Abroad and Following the Equator, Twain was fascinated by streets, crowds, and public spaces, by railroads and railway stations, by the language, the architecture, the smells, the food, and the sounds of cities.

In his more journalistic efforts, his early letters to the Alta California, for example, or in his later political satires, Twain was consistently a critic of the fashions and customs of the cultural elite, of the hypocrisies of the political and religious monopolies that are headquartered in urban sites, yet his response to the urban poor was a tense oscillation between hostility and empathy, mirroring the attitudes of many urban residents. In his descriptions of both the masses and the machinery that inhabit the urban landscape, Twain records not only the emerging infrastructure of the modern city but its ethos as well.

Ryan Having lived in so many cities around the world, Twain both narrated and embodied the cosmopolitan ideal. He moved easily through culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse environments; he spoke to royalty and to cab drivers with equal regularity and ease. As first imagined by Marshall McLuhan in the mids, the cosmopolitan transcends national boundaries and, by virtue of technological advances in travel and communication, articulates the commonality of human suffering and human potential.

Although Twain observed the suffering of many different people in a wide variety of contexts, he did so—like a nineteenth-century Angelina Jolie— from the window of a first-class cabin. Although he did on occasion sympathize with the condition of the poor, Twain spent more of his time catering to and socializing with the elite.

Mark Twain and the Cosmopolitan Ideal 11 many contemporary people, may ultimately represent the choices and comforts that modernity has created for a select few, not the extent to which technology and globalization have liberated the impoverished many. Though he may never have fully portrayed his own love affair with wealth and power, Twain routinely exposed the abuse of the poor by the rich, and he gloried in revealing the congenital stupidity of the privileged classes. In fiction, Edith Wharton, Henry James, and even Melville and Poe, for example, devote their imaginative energies to exploring the economic forces of urban life as well as the extent to which those forces corrupt morals, commodify culture and art, and objectify human beings.

Twain is no Crane or Dreiser, taking up the problem of the havenots in the patois or the setting of the city. Yet while he does not portray, like James or Wharton, the psychological tensions of life on Washington Square or Fifth Avenue, Twain is, nonetheless, an urban writer.

This distance, in part a function of his humor and in part a reflection of his anxiety, allowed Twain to sweep away the surface details of city life and to engage the moral, economic, political, and ideological structures that sustain it. Twain drew upon the urban characters he encountered and the progressive ideas he absorbed in order to explore the ethical debris of modernity. They enter various small towns, from Hadleyburg to Eseldorf, and expose the selfserving theology and ethics of the inhabitants. But they were weary of Western adventure, and straightway retired to Europe.

Sidney Berger New York: W. Norton and Co. Mark Twain and the Cosmopolitan Ideal 13 may have been provoked by his early experiences in New York, San Francisco, or New Orleans; as a poor printer or struggling newspaperman he may have longed for a simpler time and place. Unlike American realists who attempt in their fiction to record the oppressive conditions of the poor, Twain bypasses these images. Instead he traces the origins of this suffering to its roots in the complacent world beyond the urban landscape.

Twain quickly moved beyond the late-nineteenth century desire to document reality and began—like the early modernist that he is—playing with representations of it. At the turn of the century, Mark Twain anticipated the themes and forms of modernism in his experimentation with linear narrative, particularly in his Autobiography, in his contemptuous representations of Christianity and its politics, and in his rejection of the organizing narratives of history. In response to the uncertainties surrounding identity and ownership, he created a self-image that would also serve as a self-ironizing mask, working through photographs and an experimental, endless autobiography.

Ryan Twain also makes clear in his later work that such freedom has its costs. In No. In this highly experimental and fragmentary text, Mark Twain is at his modern and even postmodern best, exchanging the claims of realism and authenticity for the attractions of pleasure and play. Toward the end of the narrative he dons a minstrel-show mask, but it has no meaning for August, other than the visceral feelings of pathos and pleasure it evokes.

And You are but a thought—a vagrant Thought, a useless Thought, a homeless Thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities. August Feldner has become an exaggerated version of this urban wanderer: completely free to follow his own desires, while also utterly lost and alone. Like another displaced and cosmopolitan American modernist, T. Eliot, Twain takes a long view of history and sees in it a series of disconnects and absurdities; however, instead of watching the inevitable fall of London Bridge or shoring up the fragments against his ruin, Twain represents the 8.

William M. Gibson Berkeley: University of California Press, , Mark Twain and the Cosmopolitan Ideal 15 losses of history as a cosmic joke, in which he is both the author of the humor and its target. To represent Twain as a cosmopolitan is to reposition him within the landscape of American cultural history. More important, we hope to reveal a Mark Twain who is less static, less caste in bronze than the iconic portrait that dominates the popular culture. Despite the sepia-tinted haze that surrounds many popular and scholarly representations of him, Twain was as avant-garde as he was nostalgic.

And if Twain seems somehow rooted in the world of his childhood, he became equally disillusioned by the values that world generated and defended. These essays will demonstrate the extent to which Mark Twain stepped out of the antebellum South and into the cosmopolitan world of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Mark Twain clearly transcended his own. We could have expanded the list of cities to include Bombay, Calcutta, Washington, D. However, the cities contained in this volume had a sustained influence on Twain over the course of his lifetime as well as a profound affect upon his fiction and his literary identity.

We begin with New York, the first major American city that Twain called home, where seventeen-year-old Sam Clemens worked as a printer while absorbing the dangerous, provocative possibilities of the metropolis. Ryan Finn—the defensive, paranoid white supremacist—to Tom Canty, a chameleon child whose fantasies become both a fraud and a truth. I will argue that, from these early angry responses, Twain eventually took pleasure in the confusion that the streets of New York invited, the play and display that blur the color of faces and mistake performers in costume for authentic individuals.

Michelson begins by positioning Twain in the crossfire of current debate about both the political efficacy of cosmopolitanism and the cultural valences suggested by the term. He surveys the critical landscape and discovers a number of cosmopolitans and cosmopolitanisms: effete academics who blithely dismiss both humanism and Western political engagements in Third World countries, content in what amounts to a stylish nihilism; advocates for cultural plurality whose work to right the wrongs of historical imperialism and the current processes of globalization provides the fodder for the aforementioned academics; and finally the privileged, transnational citizens whose political sympathies may be less refined than their sense of style and taste.

Beginning with his years as a printer in St. Louis and New Orleans. Michelson presents us with a Mark Twain who is kinetic and uneasy, just as he is at home in almost any port or town. Louis and New Orleans prepared him for a world in which any cosmopolitan politics or pose is necessarily flexible and transient. In San Francisco, Twain had his first major success as a comic writer, yet Mark Twain and the Cosmopolitan Ideal 17 his experiences in the city, specifically his exposure to a bohemian group of talented writers, excited his ambitions to become something more than a humorist.

In his essay, James E. Caron distinguishes between the drudgery of reporting and the thrill of literary performance. In San Francisco, Twain discovered a comic voice that is informed by literary aesthetics and conventions, yet equally inspired by a bohemian worldview. In Buffalo we see Twain accommodating himself not simply to domestic life but also to life as a successful member of a prominent East Coast family. Joseph B. For the first time, Twain was a home owner, a business owner, and the head of a family. What this produced in him was a restlessness that actually inspired his wandering and his writing.

In Buffalo, Twain resisted, and possibly resented, how bound he was by obligation, routine, and ownership. Driscoll finds Twain at a cultural 18 Ann M. In this careful analysis of the patterns of spending and shopping that involved both Twain and Livy, Driscoll finds a narrative of cultural anxiety as well as a crisis of identity. This detachment may either be a necessary first step toward becoming a world citizen or a fallacy, a privilege available only to the privileged. In other words, the entire notion of the cosmopolitan may simply be a repackaging of Western rights and assumptions, a new kind of colonialism.

While he was making his fortune by reifying Mark Twain and the Cosmopolitan Ideal 19 his image as the prototypical American, he was also undermining that characterization by embracing the international politics and the multicultural perspective available in London. So, London seems to have liberated Twain from his narrowly constructed national identity, ironically enough, by granting him access to a narrowly defined cultural elite. His politics became more liberal while his taste became more refined. As both outsider and celebrity, Twain was in the position of many cosmopolitans.

His wealth and worldliness guaranteed some power within the social and political landscapes he inhabited, while the transience of his lifestyle insulated and liberated him from the dangerous consequences of political engagement. By the time he got to Vienna, Twain had a global perspective that—elitist as it was—made possible some of his more sweeping views and compelling claims about human civilization.

Yet this perspective, far from distancing him from local politics, allowed him to give these issues a global dimension. Twain responded to indigenous people and to the imperialists who oppressed them: he spoke out against the persecution of Jews in Vienna, the genocidal conduct of King Leopold in Africa, and the missionary hypocrisies of Christians in China.

McIntire-Strasburg argues that Vienna became for Mark Twain a bully pulpit, where his politics became global and his voice became fully his own. In what we believe to be the ultimate gesture of a cosmopolitan reading, we close the volume with a counterpoint, a view of Twain that is less urban than suburban. Kiskis does not present Elmira as either a cultivated city or a site of sophisticated cultural and intellectual exchange— though that argument certainly could be made.

That the Langdons made 20 Ann M. Ryan Elmira their home may be enough to testify to the progressive and profitable environment of this small city. Kiskis represents the increased need for privacy and for domestic retreat as one consequence of urban living. The mile-high hill upon which the farm rests functioned like the security fences that now surround most suburban homes. The steep hill blocked outside distractions and invasions, while also preserving for Twain an all-important view of the world beyond, below, and maybe even within. Quarry Farm became what most city dwellers dream of: a country home, a piece of utopian real estate made necessary by the madness of urban life.

Although Twain never returned to the rural landscapes of his youth—nor did he want to— Elmira recovered for him, according to Kiskis, something like the imagined innocence of childhood. Like the contemporary bedroom community, Elmira became a respite for Twain and his family, a quiet retreat from which Twain could transform his perceptions of the world beyond Elmira into the fictions that would secure his fame.

He left his mother in Hannibal, Missouri, which, with a population of two thousand, had been chartered as a city only seven years earlier. After a short stay in St. Louis, he headed for New York City; at close to , inhabitants, it was the largest and most diverse metropolis on the continent. The story of Mark Twain in New York City is in many ways emblematic of success in nineteenth-century America: a small-town boy makes his fortune and his name under the bright lights of the city.

What I hope to establish is how Twain may have understood his own remarkable progress from regional humorist and small-town wit to urbane celebrity and literary progressive and, more important, what that progress might signal about the effects of urbanity and the broader implications for cosmopolitan identity in America. Although the notion of cosmopolitanism seems to describe global issues arising out of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as many philosophers and cultural critics have suggested the term casts a long shadow.

Did his success, for example, represent to Twain the potential for reimagining identity racial and national , realigning politics global and local , and shifting resources cultural and economic —all transformations made possible in urban spaces? Through his talking microbes and mysterious strangers, this aging Mark Twain reveals and even seems to revel in the ubiquitous and mechanistic sameness of human life, death, sin, and suffering.

Cosmopolitanism, as a political alternative to a narrowly defined and defended conception of identity, is more than simply the experience of diversity—more than a sampling of foods and customs and languages and clothes. Norton, , — Mark Twain and the Mean and Magical Streets of New York 23 his experiences in New York City and in the fiction that grew out of those experiences, Twain wrestled with these imperatives of modern urban life: that in cities we confront people whom our politics, or culture, or religion have chosen to objectify, but whom the circumstances of modernity will no longer allow us easily to ignore or exploit.

Of all the cities in which he lived and worked, New York most clearly presented Mark Twain with the challenges of a cosmopolitan political ideal. In his journey toward this cosmopolitan ethos, Twain had to balance the habits of racism he had inherited against the realities of poverty and injustice that inhabited the city and that subsequently haunted his fiction. Twain would, for example, experiment with characters who re-create their identities by simply changing their clothes; however, these powerfully suggestive transformations have their limits. In Twain halted his work on Huck Finn at almost the midway point of the novel, the Grangerford-Shepardson feud.

Twain published The Prince and the Pauper in December ; Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was completed and published four years later. We hear the origins of these two novels both in the letters he wrote to his family during his adolescent adventure in New York and in his journalistic letters written for the Alta California. In his descriptions of the streets of New York, and later its fictional double, sixteenth-century London, Twain contrasts the theatricality and glamour of the street with the human detritus that seems to be the byproduct of cosmopolitan life.

The dirty beggars who populate the slums and the alleys of lower Manhattan would come to represent for Mark Twain the deterministic forces of race and poverty, later figured in Pap Finn, John Canty, and even the doomed King Edward. Sam Clemens began his life in New York clinging to the privileges of his race and railing against the shifting lines of racial and national identity. By the time he next returned to New York in , Mark Twain took pleasure in the freedom of the street, in the endless possibilities it offered for performance and play.

After his first exhilarating and traumatic experience of the city at the age of seventeen, Twain did not return to New York until and , the months preceding and following the Quaker City excursion. In a striking contrast to the issues of poverty and marginalization that inspire my reading, Twain spent a great deal of time in the last decades of the century cultivating the friendship of the moneyed classes in New York.

Not only would Henry Huttleston Rogers of Standard Oil become his friend, his patron, and his economic adviser, Twain would also surround himself with the likes of Andrew Carnegie as well as any number of New York celebrities and socialites. He either belonged to or was a guest of some of the most prestigious clubs and societies in New York: the Lotos Club, the St.

Nicholas Society, the Nineteenth Century Club, and others. He spoke at fund-raisers for everything from hurricane victims in Galveston to the Hebrew Technical School for girls. He spoke at memorials, at annual banquets, at literary club meetings, at dinners for the press, for political organizations, and at his own birthday parties. In the later part of the nineteenth century, it seemed that for any sort of gathering or celebration, Twain had both the formal wear and the speech to fit the occasion.

When he returned to New York in after a four-year absence, he was thronged by reporters and fans, and his arrival in the city was reported by every major newspaper. Despite the extent to which Twain satisfied his appetite for spectacle and 26 Ann M.


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Ryan acclaim through his New York performances, it is also the case that he returned to New York in times of grief and loss. In an interesting use of the language of frontier space, Twain implies that everything beyond the border of New York City is a kind of wilderness—a view not uncommon among New Yorkers.

Toward the end of his life, Twain imagined New York as a refuge, a safe port, and everything beyond as a threat to his independence, which became particularly true after the death of Livy in Twain retreated to New York, where he lived in his home at 21 Fifth Avenue—grieving, raging, recuperating—for the next four years. Repeatedly, during this period, Twain was photographed giving interviews in bed, an eccentric gesture of selfdetermination that is a kind of metonym for his relationship to the city at this time: New York was at once a private sanctuary and a theatrical venue.

After declaring bankruptcy in , Twain and Livy briefly considered moving to New York City before they settled on the world tour. Clemens is not strong enough to walk the distances that lie between the horse-car lines. There are only four extant letters from this period, and the portrait of the young Sam Clemens that emerges from them is at times unsavory.

Ryan ence was more or less limited to family and friends, and his sense of self was still uncomplicated by celebrity. Not only was Lower Manhattan home to ruthless gangs and criminal enterprises, it was also infamous for its street life and its slums. You have everything in the shape of water craft.

Despite the often cavalier pose he struck, Twain could still sound lost in the crowd, on the streets, and in the workplace—even the magnificent view of the harbor seems to have been a bit overwhelming. These letters aspire to be a part of an emerging genre of urban writing, where the writer, often an urbane sophisticate, regales his audience with sensational accounts of city streets, theaters, taverns, and docks as well as the characters who inhabit them. Though this city is not so large as London, life is here more intense; crime is more vivid and daring; the votaries of fashion and pleasure are more passionate and open.

The city is full of danger. With its population shifting dramatically, New York was also redefining the industrial and economic practices of the country. Clemens arrived in New York looking for work as a journeyman printer. What he discovered was a printing industry emerging from the mercantile economy of the eighteenth century into the market economy of the nineteenth. Apprentices, whose instruction and well-being had formerly been the responsibility of a master-craftsman, would soon be replaced by wage-earning workers, whose well-being was as negotiable as their pay.

Caught between the innovation and the mechanization of this changing economy, Clemens was both wonderstruck and fearful. Burr and Co. Ryan about industrial progress. Sam Clemens, emerging as he had from a home where bodies were rented, bought, and sold, could not help but register an irony that he would more fully articulate later in life: there are unsettling similarities between the worker and the slave.

In his first letter to his mother, Clemens sounds uneasy about the variety of ethnic people in New York, particularly the Irish, and about his own servile position as a wage-earning worker. By setting the print for this publication, however, he indirectly became a vehicle for an emerging multiethnic America. In most printers in New York were nativeborn white men, although with the influx of foreign printers catering to specific ethnic communities this dominance would soon shift. Coolege and Brothers L1, 45 , Twain would be thrown back on the streets looking for work, competing with any number of equally qualified printers, some of whom could no doubt be had for a cheaper rate.

In addition to the increase in domestic immigrants such as Twain, midcentury New York was also transformed culturally, politically, and economically by an unprecedented number of foreign immigrants. By midcentury, New York was home to the third largest German-speaking population in the world, and even after the draft riot of it was also home to a thriving African American working class. In the letters he wrote home, Clemens repeatedly represents himself as a victim of the changing demographics of New York.

On the way Burroughs and Wallace, Gotham, — In addition, Twain would have walked within blocks of the first official congregation of African American Presbyterians and past the bohemian haunts of Walt Whitman. Why, from Cliff street, up Frankfort to Nassau street, six or seven squares—my road to dinner—I think I could count two hundred brats. Niggers, mulattoes, quadroons, Chinese, and some the Lord no doubt originally intended to be white, but the dirt on whose faces leaves one uncertain as to that fact, block up the little, narrow street; and to wade through this mass of human vermin, would raise the ire of the most patient person that ever lived.

Like the Prince, the young Clemens was repulsed by his necessary association with the rabble; however, as is equally true of Tom Canty, Clemens evinced a sense of superiority that may be little more than self-delusion, a product of his Missouri upbringing and his white heritage. Twain lived within a few blocks of the First Colored Presbyterian Church, later Shiloh Church, whose minister, Henry Highland Garnet, was a vocal advocate of black immigration to Africa. In Twain lived on the same block on Duane Street where Walt Whitman also lived during one of his residencies in lower Manhattan.

The poverty Clemens experienced in New York was of a far different flavor; not only did it erase the distinctions insured by caste and family, it effectively undermined white privilege by covering white skin with the grime and dirt of the city.


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Rags, wretchedness, poverty and dirt. The alleys of Jerusalem might as well be Broadway, a confusion of race, tribe, and language. Placed alongside these early letters home, however, the poverty of the Holy Land takes on a more intimate connection. Establishing his relationship to this mob of children became a psychological imperative for Clemens, part of the process of distinguishing himself as a white adult within this shifting ethnic morass.

In order to get his meals, Twain had to cross Broadway, which even by had acquired an iconic status in American culture. Ryan ming, crowding, and at times smashing, is the exhilarating music which charms the multitude and draws its thousands within the whirl. Although Clemens seems at times to have been drawn to the excitement of the streets, he was equally fearful about being identified with the crowd who inhabited this space. He represented this anxiety as a physical vulnerability: In going to and from my meals, I go by way of Broadway—and to cross Broadway is the rub—but once across, it is the rub for two or three squares.

My plan—and how I could choose another, when there is no other—is to get into the crowd; and when I get in, I am borne, and rubbed, and crowded along, and need scarcely trouble myself about using my own legs; and when I get out, it seems like I had been pulled to pieces and very badly put together again. The bedlam created by this throng of children was read by the young Clemens as a mass of fragmented and confused identities, racial and ethnic, to the point that the humanity of the individuals disappears.

Clemens represents these multicolored, multiethnic creatures as robbing him of his agency, carrying him along against his will until he becomes damaged goods, a byproduct of the urban landscape. Mark Twain in his later life was an acute observer of crowds and mobs and of the psychology that they manifest.

In this letter, the young Sam pro Yet the underlying worry—that there is no secure boundary between the civilized gaze of the observer and the moral chaos of the mob—is the same. In these sometimes playful representations of being broken or torn to pieces, Clemens initiates what will become a lifelong contemplation on the nature of race and the problem of human identity, which often manifests itself in a fascination with twins and doubles.

They are white, though, like other people. The Davis brothers were extremely short in stature, and they were also mentally handicapped. In the s they began performing feats of strength for a number of sideshows, and by the s they were working for P. Once again Sam Clemens—himself a stranger in the city—has imagined being physically assaulted in a particularly animalistic way. In the case of the Borneo twins, race exists as a category beyond pigmentation.

In these letters, Clemens projects two different versions of an adulterated humanity: one that is mechanical, commodities and pieces , and one that is bestial vermin and primates. He may be, for example, trying to entertain his mother through a comic hyperbole, which is an ongoing dynamic between them. Not only is this reading psychologically plausible, casting Twain in an Oedipal role of pleasing the mother and thwarting the father or at least the father figure , it also deflects the racist intention of the language, making it part of a more complicated personal and cultural performance.

The critical vocabulary of performance, however, has its limits. It necessarily suggests an ironic detachment between the actor and the identity he or she assumes. Fanning, Mark Twain and Orion Clemens. Ryan Twain, the white-suited emblem of racial tolerance, can remain more or less untainted by this early expression of racist humor. When critics take up this particular letter, the focus is often on the symbolic vehicle of minstrelsy rather than on the racist politics that may lie beneath the metaphor.

Yet, as the language of the letter suggests, Sam Clemens was far from being the patron of African Americans and their causes that he would someday be. Forrest G. Robinson Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, , Mark Twain and the Mean and Magical Streets of New York 39 transgressive masculinity, part of what Knoper sees as an assault on middleclass decorum and normative behavior.

However, Sam Clemens in was not yet the complicated amalgam—part secular prophet and part industrial machine—that he eventually would become. While he was in New York City his attitudes about African Americans were unambiguously racist, as is evidenced in the less metaphoric line that precedes the reference to blackening his face.

Bibliography

In an effort coordinated by local and national antislavery organizations, citizens stormed the jail where Henry was being held and freed him. The event became a celebrated and notorious example for southerners like the young Sam Clemens of the social anarchy at the heart of abolition. Ryan mund Freud represents the joke as a substitute for actual violence. The chaos of the streets of New York, represented for Clemens by the mob of dirty children and by the confused racial status of the Borneo twins, led him toward his first true expression of cosmopolitan life: hatred and loathing.

These early letters constitute a kind of ur-text in which we hear the voice of Pap Finn in all his cruelty and self-pity, as well as the longings of his lonesome, fearful son. Freud, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, ed. Carol Breckenridge et al. And what do you think? They said he could vote, when he was at home. Well, that let me out.

Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? And unlike the awkward Sam Clemens, who is barely able to walk across Broadway, the professor commands the street with a self-assurance that eludes the distinctly uncool Sam. In response to the rise of immigrants and refugees in both France and Britain in recent decades, Derrida suggests that the urban space evokes both violence and violation, and that it likewise demands an absolute and unconditional acceptance of what we may find unacceptable, even unforgivable.

It may be that Twain was specifically referring to Dr. John C. Mitchell, a black professor from Wilberforce College in Ohio. However, my interest here is less in the surface details of the character than in his metaphoric value and cultural resonance. Jacque Derrida, On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness, trans. The dirt on the faces of the street children and the muddied exterior of Pap Finn are another form of blackness, a racial signifier that emerges from poverty and ignorance, one that particularly threatened to leave its mark on the seventeen-year-old Samuel Clemens.

This urban blackness, less a pigmentation than a moral stain, evoked the racist impulses he recorded in his letters and that the adult Twain fictionalized years later in the rantings of Pap Finn. In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain re-creates a time and, more important, a place when black faces inspired much darker impulses.

The streets of midcentury New York are a fitting home for Pap Finn, who is frequently associated with hogs, gutters, and dirt. In Twain lived in a city of tens of thousands of homeless children, many of them sleeping in the streets, alleys, or doorways of lower Manhattan; these children survived as pickpockets, newsboys, beggars, and prostitutes. Estimates of the number of homeless children in midcentury New York range from 15,—20, to an outside figure of 40, They slept on the docks, in cellars and basements, in alleys and doorways.

They burrowed into the empty and derelict spaces, not that there were many in a city where adults fought for sheltered hallways and cellar corners. In his letters from New York and Philadelphia, Clemens occasionally lets slip—between the descriptions of his own bravado—a longing for family.

I would let you know now, if I knew myself. I may perhaps be here a week longer; but I cannot tell. Twain invests Huck with street smarts and with a willingness to question the norms of the adult world that is crucial to his emblematic status as a liberatory figure. Ryan Huck a new way of seeing. Although Twain had visited London by the time he wrote The Prince and the Pauper, as Peter Messent notes in this volume, he did not tour or make much comment on the poverty of that city. Prince Edward embodies this complex biographical inheritance. Exchanging clothes with Tom Canty has the same effect that blackening his face would have had for Twain in the nineteenth century: Edward is enslaved by his new identity and rendered a commodity within the Canty household.

The discrete category of race exists nonetheless. Do ye understand that word! I have run from my master, and when I am found—the heavy curse of heaven fall on the law and the land that hath commanded it! As in the case of Roxy and Tom Driscoll, whose blackness is in many ways fictitious, Edward is the potential slave of a legal and cultural system that would lynch him—despite his birthright— as readily as it would some poor beggar.

The connection Twain makes in The Prince and the Pauper between poverty and racism that is, the presentation of suffering as a common denomi- 48 Ann M. And to some extent it had. At moments in the novel Edward is outraged by the conditions in which his people live and the injustices that his own court has generated.

Mark Twain repeatedly expressed his outrage at the tyranny of the rich over the poor and the powerful over the weak; however, he was often viscerally repulsed by the actual sight, smell, and face of urban poverty. When Twain returned to New York City in , he walked the streets with a great deal more confidence. Not only was he a relatively successful journalist, he was an experienced urbanite, having lived and worked in San Francisco for several years. They are going to have all these tenement houses all white-washed inside, but that will hardly save the occupants when the cholera comes.

Here Twain counters the gesture of blackening his face with the broad stroke of whitewashing the dirt of the city; however, in this case the dirt—the pigment of poverty—will remain unaltered and perhaps unalterable by any attempt at reform. Mark Twain did, like Prince Edward, condemn the legal system and cultural practices that created places like Offal Court and the Five Points slum. He remained, nonetheless, unsure about the moral status—or for that matter, even the humanity—of the people who inhabited them.

There were huge, stalwart men, brown with exposure, long-haired, and clothed in fantastic rags; there were middle-sized youths, of truculent countenance, and similarly clad; there were blind mendicants, with patched or bandaged eyes; crippled ones, with wooden legs and crutches; there was a villain-looking peddler with his pack; a knife-grinder, a tinker, and a barber-surgeon, with the implements of their trades; some of the females were hardly grown girls, some were at prime, some were old and wrinkled hags, and all were loud, brazen, foul-mouthed; and all soiled and slatternly; there were three sore-faced babies; there were a couple of starveling curs, with strings around their necks, whose office was to lead the blind.

What began in as a highly specific racial signifier—the blackened face—has become in the dirty faces of Pap Finn, John Canty, and the motley gang that surrounds him a symbol of the human race and, even more specifically, a sign of what effect the urban landscape has on the categories that organize identity. Ryan Unlike realist authors such as Dreiser or Crane who seem inspired by the urge to transform the depressed urban landscapes they represent, Twain is in many ways an ambivalent reformer, content to witness the horror of poverty but unsure about the efficacy of attempting change.

In this highly visual novel—filled as it is with opulent accounts of the clothes, the food, and the residences of the palace—Twain devotes a great many words to describing the living conditions of the poor. Where dogs would howl to lie, women, and men, and boys slink off to sleep, forcing the dislodged rats to move away in quest of better lodgings. In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain self-consciously insists upon a lack of moral agenda; yet in The Prince and the Pauper he appears intent upon transforming both the main characters and the society they inhabit.

Despite its realist texture, the novel is a romance, set in a faraway land in a distant time. Long before Edward and Tom exchange their clothes, the events it describes are already part of an unredeemed history. Not unlike the young Clemens, the Prince survives his time on the street as much as—if not more than—he learns from it. He is able to improve the lot of some of the people he encounters on his journey; however, his reign, and by implication the effect of his exposure to poverty, has limited power. Contemporary theories of the cosmopolitan take varying positions on the question of reform.

On the one hand, a cosmopolitan worldview imagines that—while culture, nation, and race may organize in any number of ways—basic human needs must be met. Particular questions of how to meet these needs, however, raise the specter that also haunts a cosmopolitan political agenda. How can the needs of the poor be met without conceiving of that impoverishment in colonial, even imperial terms?

It seems hard, but truly humiliation, hunger, persecution and death are the wages of poverty in the mighty cities of the land. No man can say aught against honest poverty. The books laud it; the instructors of the people praise it; all men glorify it and say it hath its reward here and will have it hereafter. Honest poverty is a gem even a King might feel proud to call his own, but I wish to sell out.

I have sported that kind of jewelry long enough. I want some variety. MTTMB, Although Twain expresses sympathy for the plight of the poor and disdain for the condescension of the rich, he represents the situation as inevitable, like disease itself: It is no need to growl at the Government, state or municipal, about the pestilence-breeding tenement-houses, for they cannot help the matter much. They are doing all they can. They are making the landlords go to the expense of whitewashing the tenement-houses throughout, and when the landlord has done that he will gently raise the rent, and that will raise some of the tenants out, and then how much better off will they be?

The cholera will follow them to the street. The most he can hope for is to escape a fate that will consume so many of his fellow New Yorkers, and wealth—not social or political reform—is the only inoculant. In New York as a teenager he was susceptible to the same casual violence and hopeless suffering that pervaded his fictionalized London. Twain, therefore, views poverty as inexorable and the charity it inspires as hollow. Ultimately, however, Mark Mark Twain and the Mean and Magical Streets of New York 53 Twain is less convinced by the philanthropy of Edward and more invested in the fate of his other hero, Tom Canty, whose escape from Offal court mirrors the trajectory of his own career.

Twain, like his fictional characters, happily wandered the streets alone in search of some adventure: a glimpse of a real prince for Tom Canty, a story to send home for the seventeen-year-old Clemens, a glancing experience of celebrity for the thirty-six-year-old Mark Twain. Ryan more lonesome when placed in this urban—and adolescent—context. Out of that reading emerged a new self, complete with a new set of desires.

There is no record of the books Clemens read while in New York or their specific effect upon him. However, in Tom Canty we see a similarly lonely child, also in an urban setting, who is liberated by the process of reading, and who discovers in his books a magical alternative to his impoverished self. New York City offered Sam Clemens a vision of opulence and luxury impossible to experience in the confines of Hannibal or even St.

In Buckingham Palace, Tom Canty secures an ideal family complete with a loving father and refined and caring sisters. The language of these letters characterizes Twain as both child and king. The palace—as home and fortress—became an emblem for Twain of both imaginative freedom and familial security. Tom Canty is just such a made man. Ryan Palace. Through a collusion of random events and creative play, Tom transcends his inherited identity and redefines the world in which he lives.

Although Tom appears to be a good prince and would become a just king, his reign, like his identity, is illegitimate. While there is a The city as it emerges in The Prince and the Pauper appears to be a profoundly modernist, even postmodernist space. Crowds of people wander the streets unhinged from any sense of community or moral order, enjoying the pleasures of impersonation and the play of performance. Just as the end of No. The city as setting allows Twain to explore the instability of identity and conversely the permanence of human suffering.

In one of the most recurring symbols of the vagaries of human experience, Twain uses the clothes of Tom Canty and Prince Edward to represent both the transcendental possibilities of urban life and the deterministic forces of poverty and race that often govern the streets of the city. These sudden reversals in fortune represent the city as a space of almost miraculous transformations, a romantic world in which individuals—bound by no connections or obligations—can change identity as easily as changing their clothes.

Twain uses clothing as a metaphor to suggest that despite the apparent freedoms that 58 Ann M. Ryan the urban experience makes possible, the same random inequity of human experience abides. However, by the mids, when he was about to launch his career on a national scale, Mark Twain walked the streets of New York with all the theatricality of a runway model. Having at this point invested in a fictionalized identity that would in time eclipse his former self, Mark Twain was as fascinated by the mutability of the human condition as he was once afraid of it.

In the city Twain escaped the strictures of name, family, and even race; in New York he made for himself a new name, yearned for and eventually discovered an ideal family, and began to wear his race and his name as ironically as he did his white suit of clothes. Like his creation Tom Canty, Twain enjoyed being on the street, so long as it was a theater where he was the star performer.

By the late s Mark Twain had achieved some measure of wealth and celebrity. Broadway no longer threatened his identity once it had become—as the streets of London do for Tom Canty—an intoxicating performance space. What Tom Canty discovers in his street performance is an artificial identity that feels more authentic than his own. This Socratic exchange pairs an idealistic Young Man searching for proof that human beings are more than narcissistic machines with an 60 Ann M.

Ryan Old Man whose experience has proved otherwise. On his way home his heart was joyful and it sang— profit on top of profit! A kind of postmessianic figure, the Old Man seems glibly to concede that the poor will always be with us. If poverty, ignorance, and pain can be temporarily ameliorated, Twain insists that they cannot be eliminated.

The Prisoner Of Heaven A Novel

Paupers and princes may have the ability to transcend or transform their natures; however, these acts of transcendence appear to have limited political or historical power. In performance individuals can take advantage of the shifting conditions of the world, even if they cannot seriously affect those conditions. Performance for Twain appears to be a vehicle for escape, not a strategy for addressing many of the social and political ills that interested him as a young man and that obsessed him at the end of his life. Here we see Twain engaged in a classic performance of his own, playing the part of the eccentric humorist who is willing to present himself unvarnished and un The Complete Essays of Mark Twain, ed.

We also hear about the socialites who trailed behind Twain in his later years and with whom he had a sustained romance. Certainly there was a colonial assumption at work; Twain imagined this effort as a way of creating new citizens. Yet, by the end of his life, Twain seems to have been actively engaged in re-dressing—using the costume of American citizenry—the wrongs of history and even anticipating the look, feel, and sound of this newly imagined America. And Ryan Twain located the site of this cultural redemption—the most important work of his life—in New York City.

In December at an elegant dinner sponsored by the St. They are—well, too chimneyfied and too snaggy, like a mouth that needs attention from a dentist, like a cemetery that is all monuments and no gravestones. But at night, seen from the river where they are columns towering against the sky, all sparkling with light, they are fairylike. They are beauty more satisfactory to the soul and more enchanting than anything that man has dreamed of since the Arabian nights. Let us make the most of our sights that are beautiful and let the others go. In these architectural structures, Twain finds an honest representation of his own urban identity: a mixture of dark and light, cynicism and magic.

Nonetheless, New York City revealed to the young Clemens the possibility of radical selftransformation. Twain would recall that at seventeen he lived in a city where blacks behaved like citizens, children ruled the streets, white men wore black faces, and a working-class apprentice wandered through libraries and a Crystal Palace dreaming of becoming a prince in the city. If a dram of Cynicism has endured, through the ages, as one affiliated demeanor, the ghosts of Stoicism have been shooed away by something like their opposite: five-star, globalized Epicurean self-indulgence, flourishing on a scale that would have boggled poor, sickly Epicurus, who rarely got out of town.

What should it call to mind?

LETTERS FROM THE EARTH

Pampered fashionistas, swaggering through photo shoots on some sugar-candy beach where dowdy indigenous people are not allowed to intrude? At the London School of Economics, 64 Sam Clemens and the Mississippi River Metropolis 65 David Held is a leader of a determined set of scholars urging us to keep the word cosmopolitan on higher moral ground: Cosmopolitan values can be expressed formally in terms of a set of principles.

They are principles of: 1 equal worth and dignity; 2 active agency; 3 personal responsibility and accountability; 4 consent; 5 collective decision-making about public matters through voting procedures; 6 inclusiveness and subsidiarity; 7 avoidance of serious harm; and 8 sustainability.

While eight principles may seem like a daunting number, they are interrelated and together form a basis of a cosmopolitan orientation. He means concrete efforts to promulgate and exemplify a universal ethic subtending all nations and peoples—the kind of cosmopolitanism exemplified in the global media, right now anyway, by people like Al Gore, Bono, Samantha Power, Andrew Kimbrell, and Jeffrey Sachs; and perhaps also by Greenpeace, UNESCO, and the World Bank, depending on which op-ed perspectives you accept about those organizations.

It is not skepticism about the very idea of truth that guides us; it is realism about how hard the truth is to find. One truth we hold to, however, is that every human being has obligations to every other. Everybody matters: that is our central idea. And it sharply limits the scope of our tolerance. To say what, in principle, distinguishes the cosmopolitan from the counter-cosmopolitan, we plainly need to go beyond talk of truth and tolerance.

One distinctively cosmopolitan commitment is to pluralism. So we hope and expect that different people and different societies will embody different values. But they have to be values worth living by. For basic membership, all you need to do is affirm the worth of human beings everywhere and try to contribute, in some effectual way, to bettering conditions on the other side of an international and cultural divide. If we want to situate Mark Twain within a tradition or ideology of cosmopolitanism, this is a paradox in the way: though the ostensible objectives of cosmopolitan discourse in the humanities are political and moral, the tone and the process are imbued with connoisseurship.

Thriving on disputation about methodology, this mode of critique pursues ideological and intellectual sophistication largely as an end in itself: elite discriminations, occasionally spiced up with categorical disdain.