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This groundbreaking volume explores the importance of economics and prosperity throughout Samuel Clemens’s writing and personal life.

Mark Twain and Money: Language, Capital, and Culture focuses on an overlooked feature of the story of one of America’s most celebrated writers. Investigating Samuel Clemens’s often conflicting but insightful views on the roles of money in American culture and identity, this collection of essays shows how his fascination with the complexity of nineteenth-century economics informs much of Mark Twain’s writing.
While most readers are familiar with Mark Twain the worldly wise writer, fewer are acquainted with Samuel Clemens the avid businessman. Throughout his life, he sought to strike it rich, whether mining for silver in Nevada, founding his own publishing company, or staking out ownership in the Paige typesetting machine. He was ever on the lookout for investment schemes and was intrigued by inventions, his own and those of others, that he imagined would net a windfall. Conventional wisdom has held that Clemens’s obsession with business and material wealth hindered his ability to write more and better books. However, this perspective fails to recognize how his interest in economics served as a rich source of inspiration for his literary creativity and is inseparable from his achievements as a writer. In fact, without this preoccupation with monetary success, Henry B. Wonham and Lawrence Howe argue, Twain’s writing would lack an important connection to a cornerstone of American culture.
The contributors to this volume examine a variety of topics, such as a Clemens family myth of vast landholdings, Clemens’s strategies for protecting the Mark Twain brand, his insights into rapidly evolving nineteenth-century financial practices, the persistence of patronage in the literary marketplace, the association of manhood and monetary success, Clemens’s attitude and actions toward poverty, his response to the pains of bankruptcy through writing, and the intersection of racial identity and economics in American culture. These illuminating essays show how pecuniary matters invigorate a wide range of Twain’s writing from The Gilded Age, Roughing It,The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, to later stories like “The £1,000,000 Banknote” and the Autobiography.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780817319441
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Publication date: 08/15/2017
Series: Studies in American Literary Realism and Naturalism
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Henry B. Wonham is a professor of English at the University of Oregon and the author of Mark Twain and the Art of the Tall Tale, Playing the Races: Ethnic Caricature and American Literary Realism, and Charles W. Chesnutt: A Study of Short Fiction. He is also the coeditor of Tales of Henry James, Second Edition.
Lawrence Howe is a professor of English and film studies at Roosevelt University. He is the author of Mark Twain and the Novel: The Double-Cross of Authority and the coeditor of Refocusing Chaplin: A Screen Icon through Critical Lenses.

Table of Contents

List of Figures vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction Henry B. Wonham 1

1 Narrating the Tennessee Land: Real Property, Fictional Land, and Mark Twain's Literary Enterprise Lawrence Howe 16

2 Brand Management: Samuel Clemens, Trademarks, and the Mark Twain Enterprise Judith Yaross Lee 39

3 "Society's Very Choicest Brands": Hank Morgan's Brand Magic in Camelot Mark Schiebe 70

4 The Quality (and Cost) of Mercy: Mark Twain's Evasion of the Poor Ann M. Ryan 83

5 The Robber Barons' Fool?: Mark Twain and the Four Ps of Patronage Gregg Camfield 105

6 "These Hideous Times": Mark Twain's Bankruptcy and the Panic of 1893 Joseph Csicsila 127

7 "Drop Sentiment, and Come Down to Business": Debt and the Disintegration of "Manly" Character in "Indiantown" and "Which Was It?" Susanne Weil 141

8 The Pain Economy: Mark Twain's Masochistic Understanding of Pain M. Christine Benner Dixon 161

9 Minstrel Economics: Mark Twain, the San Francisco Minstrels, and Folk Investment in the American Dream Sharon D. McCoy 177

10 "A House of Cards": Fictitious Capital and The Gilded Age Jonathan Hayes 201

11 "By and By I Was Smitten with the Silver Fever": Literary Veins in Roughing It Jeffrey W. Miller 218

12 The Art of Arbitrage: Reimagining Mark Twain, Business Man Henry B. Wonham 233

Coda: "Follow the Money" Lawrence Howe 256

Contributors 261

Index 265

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