Readers of Mark Twain seldom doubt his genius, but defining that genius and locating its source continue to challenge students of American literature. Equally elusive is an explanation of the intriguing phenomenon of Twain as a mythic figure, both shaper and embodier of an American mythos. Perhaps no single critical approach can adequately assess the complex force behind Samuel Clemens and Mark Twain. This native genius, our quintessential artist, rightfully provokes a number of powerful responses, as these original essays demonstrate.
List of Illustrations
Introduction / Sara deSaussure Davis
Part I: America Mythologizes Twain
Collecting the Works of Mark Twain / John C. Gerber
"Norman Rockwell Sentimentality": The Rockwell Illustrations for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn / Allison R. Ensor
Part II: Twain Mythologizes Twain
Autobiography as Property: Mark Twain and His Legend / Alan Gribben
Mark Twain, "Funniest Man in the World" / Henry Nash Smith
A "Talent for Posturing": The Achievement of Mark Twain's Public Personality / Louis J. Budd
Life on the Mississippi Revisited / James M. Cox
Part III: Twain Mythologizes America and the Universe
Mark Twain and the Myth of the West / Harold H. Kolb, Jr.
Mark Twain and the Myth of the Daring Jest / Stanley Brodwin