Cartoons and Caricatures of Mark Twain in Context
Reformer and Social Critic, 1869–1910
Cartoons and Caricatures of Mark Twain in Context: Reformer and Social Critic, 1869–1910 examines the production, reception, and history of Twain’s reputation as a social and political satirist. Myrick and Scharnhorst trace the evolution of Twain’s depiction throughout his life, career, and even death and across more than seventy illustrations—from portrayals of the famous author as a court jester adorned with cap and bells, to a regally haloed king with a royal train—offering a new perspective on his influence and reputation. Although he was among the most photographed figures of the nineteenth century, Myrick and Scharnhorst focus on a medium that Twain, an expert ofself-promotion and brand management, could not control. As a result, Myrick and Scharnhorst have compiled an innovative and incisive visual reception history.
Cartoons and Caricatures of Mark Twainin Context illustrates the popular and often critical response to many famous and infamous episodes in his career, such as the storm of controversy that surrounded the publication of his anti-imperialist writings at the turn of the twentieth century. Routinely depicted with hair like a fright wig, a beak-like nose, and a cigar in hand, no matter the context or the costume, Twain was instantly recognizable. Yet it was not merely the familiarity of his image that made him a regular feature in visual commentary, but also his willingness to speak out against corruption and to insert himself into controversies of his day.
“Leslie Diane Myrick and Gary Scharnhorst give us not only a comprehensive catalog of Mark Twain caricatures but also the detailed context that informs the visual language at work in each cartoon.”
—Larry Howe, author of Mark Twain and Money: Language, Capital, and Culture