Sunday, March 27, 2005

Mark Twain and boys and girls

In 1948, Leslie Fiedler wrote an essay in the Partisan Review: "Come back to the raft ag'in, Huck Honey!"

Fiedler described Mark Twain's Huck and Jim as enjoying a homosexual relationship.



From the book "Inventing Mark Twain: The Lives of Samuel Langhorne Clemens", by Andrew J Hoffman, 1995.

"My research for a biography of Samuel Langhorne Clemens brought Byatt's novel Possession to mind, especially when I came across a series of odd notes, letters, newspaper squibs, and coincidences concerning Mark Twain's years as a reporter in Nevada and California. These bits and pieces were not virgin material, of which very little remains in Twain scholarship. But though I found almost everything in secondary sources, to me these disparate fragments told a new story. I saw them as evidence - circumstantial, but incontestable; inconclusive, but suggestive - that Clemens had a series of strong, loving, and romantic relationships with other men." p.23-24.

"Merely suggesting the possibility of Clemens's homosexual experience has provoked debate and, in some cases, personal attack. One cannot alter the visage of an icon without retribution. People both in and outside academia have sprung to the defense of Mark Twain's reputation, treating my hypothesis about his sexuality as though it were an attack on his character." p.25.



"During the final years of his life, Clemens organized the Angelfish Club, an informal organization of schoolage girls, called Angelfish, whom he kept in correspondence with and invited to stay with him. Declaring himself the admiral of the club, Clemens set the rules for admittance: sincerity, good disposition, schoolgirl age, and intelligence. The billiard room of Stormfield was the offical headquarters, and various other parts of the house were given fish-related names. Sam also set the rule that any Angelfish who went three months without writing to him would be suspended."



Inventing Mark Twain: The Lives of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, by Hoffman, AndrewJ.
Book review in the New Statesman, 1997, by Charles Glass

Glass writes: "After Twain, no writer could ignore the contradiction between the American ideal of liberty and its practice of subtler forms of slavery."

Hoffman claims that, as a young man in Nevada, Sam/Mark Twain was homosexual.

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