Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, and "Old Times on the Mississippi"

By John W. Young

Copyright © John W. Young, 1997. This article may not be published or redistributed in any medium without permission.

This electronic text is from TwainWeb, the web service of the Mark Twain Forum.

In 1869, The Atlantic Monthly published a review of Mark Twain's first novel, The Innocents Abroad, a chronicle of his voyage, as part a group of tourists, along the coast of Southern Europe to the Holy Land. While I would call the review encouraging, Twain must have considered it favorable, because, according to John W. Crowley, he took some time to visit the magazine's offices to say thank you to the review's unnamed author, who turned out to be William Dean Howells. Howells was, at that time, the assistant editor of the magazine. The meeting of the two young writers marks the beginning of a personal and professional friendship that would continue for decades.

By 1874, Twain had written two more novels, Roughing It (1872) and, with Charles Dudley Warner, The Gilded Age (1873). Howells, meanwhile, had become the full editor of The Atlantic Monthly. Even so, Twain had not submitted anything to Howells for publication in the magazine until September 2, 1874. On that date, Twain wrote a letter to Howells with which he enclosed two manuscripts. According to the letter, one of the manuscripts was called "Fable for Old Boys and Girls," which I have never encountered, so it is likely that it remains unpublished, in the form of the manuscript Twain sent, to this day.1 The other manuscript was for "A True Story," a very short, excellent work, that displays Twain's knack for creating interesting speech and dialect patterns--supposedly based on real-life sources. Twain did not express much enthusiasm in the letter for either manuscript. Of "Fable for Old Boys and Girls," he said it "disgusts me" (2 Sept. 1874, 22). Of "A True Story," he told Howells that it "has no humor in it. You can pay as lightly as you choose for [it], if you want it, for it is rather out of my line" (22). Twain's remarks in the letter, the way he dismisses his own work, and underestimates their value in monetary terms, suggests that he was assigning all authority, in relation to the two manuscript's value, to Howells. At one point in the letter, Twain even told Howells that, if he didn't like "Fable for Old Boys and Girls," he should "hurl it back with obloquy" (22). Twain was freeing Howells, in a way, from risk. If Howells did not like the works, it was all right. If Howells did like the works, he could do as he pleased with them because they were of little value to Twain. This definition of roles was not going to be the only aspect of their friendship, but it would be an important one, because of their backgrounds and identities as literary figures. Howells was the refined gentleman of the Eastern Culture, while Twain was the plain-talking tale-spinner of the Wild West. It is not inconceivable that they were in awe of each other's talents, and sought to include one another's qualities into their own work. Certainly Twain did, as shown by his trust in Howells in editorial matters. For example, in a letter dated July 5, 1875, Twain told Howells that he had finished composing the first draft of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He asked if Howells would read it and "point out the most glaring defects" in the manuscript (5 July 1875, 92). Howells did so, and Twain wrote him the following, in a letter dated January 18, 1876:

There [never]2 was a man in the world so grateful to another as I was to you [the] day before yesterday, when I sat down (in still rather wretched health) to set myself to the dreary &3 hateful task of making final revision of Tom Sawyer, & discovered, upon opening the package of [manuscript] that your pencil marks were scattered all along. This was splendid, & swept away all labor. Instead of reading the [manuscript], I simply hunted out the pencil marks & made the emendations which they suggested (18 Jan. 1876, 121).

Although Twain questioned some portions of the manuscript that Howells hadn't marked, he never once, in the entire letter, questioned the things Howells had. Clearly he trusted Howells a lot.

There must have been several reasons for Twain's confidence in Howells's advice. Some possibilities include their years of friendship, Howells's experience as editor and writer, and Twain's experience with Howells as his editor. The latter possibility brings us back to the subject of the manuscripts Twain had sent Howells in 1874. Given the opinion Twain expressed about the piece, he must have been somewhat surprised by Howells's pleased reaction to "A True Story." Howells told Twain, "I think ["A True Story" is] extremely good and touching" (Howells, 8 Sept. 1874, 24), and later praised it even more, by saying that it "delights me more and more: I wish you had about forty of 'em!" (17 Sept. 1874, 25). Howells's praise was truthful, because "A True Story" appeared in the November 1874 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. Soon, Howells asked Twain for more work like "A True Story" (Howells, 30 Sept. 1874, 32). Twain responded with the following pitch:

Twichell4 & I have had a long walk in the woods & I got to telling him about old Mississippi days of steamboating glory & grandeur as I saw them (during 5 years) from the pilot house. He said "What a virgin subject to hurl into a magazine!" . . . Would you like a series of papers to run through 3 months or 6 or 9?--or about 4 months, say? (24 Oct. 1874, 34)

The idea, possibly because of Twain's excited tone in describing it, must have appealed to Howells, because the finished product, called "Old Times on the Mississippi" (referred to from now on as "Old Times"), was serialized in seven issues of The Atlantic Monthly in 1875. When Howells received the manuscript of the first installment, he wrote Twain and expressed his admiration: "The piece about the Mississippi is capital--it almost made the water in our ice-pitcher muddy as I read it . . . I don't think I shall meddle much with it even in the way of suggestion. The sketch of the low-lived little town was so good, that I could have wished ever so much more of it" (23 Nov. 1874, 42-3). Further, he told Twain that he wanted the sketches monthly, if Twain could do them within that time frame.

However, Howells also expressed his concern about a section of the piece, referred to as "the tearful watchman's story" (23 Nov. 1874, 43) or "the night watchman's story" (24 Nov. 1874, 43). He thought it "might have been abridged" (23 Nov. 1874, 43), because it did not "seem so natural and probable as the rest of the sketch--[it seemed] made up" (24 Nov. 1874, 43). Twain agreed, saying "I perceived that [the watchman] was lame & artificial" (25 Nov. 1874, 44), and: "I wrote [the watchman] up twice before sending him to you, but couldn't get Mrs. Clemens to approve of him at all" (44).5

In relation to Twain and Howells's discussion of the watchman section problems, we see the editor/writer rapport developing between the two men. As I mentioned earlier, in discussing the The Adventures of Tom Sawyer manuscript, Twain trusted Howells's judgment in critical matters, and would make whatever changes were requested, although, in the case of the watchman section, he did so only after explaining that the section was an area of concern before the manuscript had even been sent to Howells (Twain was possibly saving face?). Additionally, he said: "You Atlantic people . . . don't divide good" (25 Nov. 1874, 44), meaning that he did not like the way the typesetter had "syllabified words at the ends of lines" (Smith and Gibson 45). If Twain's responses to Howells's first critical comments during their long professional relationship can be considered defensive, I think we can observe an apology in the following quotation, from the same letter: "I am seriously afraid to appear in print often--newspapers soon get to lying in wait for me to blackguard me" (25 Nov. 1874, 44).

In order to see what kind of influence Howells would be on Twain, let us discuss him for a while. According to Helen McMahon, in her impressive and enormously helpful Criticism of Fiction: A Study of Trends in the Atlantic Monthly: 1857-1898, when Howells joined The Atlantic Monthly in 1866, the magazine had displayed "a tendency to give frequent mention to faithful representation of actual life and to find new interest in the 'acts, struggles, and suffering of the world that lies at our feet, discarding the idealizing charm which arises from distance in space or remoteness in time.'"6 (McMahon 13). Further, McMahon says that Howells, in his:

first Atlantic review of a work of fiction, Bayard Taylor's The Story of Kenneth, gives further approval to this tendency, for Howells finds the author's "strict fidelity to place and character" far more acceptable "than the aerial romance which cannot light in any place known to the gazeteer." "Indeed," he writes, "nothing can be better than the faithful spirit in which Mr. Taylor seems to have adhered to all the facts of the life he portrays"7 (McMahon 13-4).

We can see a similarity in Howells's words, in the quotation above, to some advice he gave to Twain in 1874 about writing the second installment of "Old Times": "I should say, stick to actual fact and character in the thing, and give things in detail" (3 Dec. 1874, 46). In both instances, Howells places an importance on truth. In combination with his criticism of the watchman section of the first installment, discussed earlier, where he said it was not "natural and probable" and seemed "made up," in these statements, some of Howells's philosophy of writing begins to emerge. Today, with the advantage of over a century of history, we recognize these statements as being very Realist. Now, Howells is freely called a Realist writer and advocate. Recently, in fact, he has been called "the dean of American realism" (Cummings 209).

What, however, beyond the somewhat ambiguous concept of truth in literature, was Realism to Howells? According to Michael Davitt Bell, to Howells, Realism consisted of two points. First, the writer has a moral responsibility to tell the truth to society. Second, the writer must exercise that responsibility "by discrediting what is irresponsible--the 'romantic,' the 'literary,' the 'artificial,' the merely 'artistic'" (Bell 47-8). Why? Because Howells thought that Realism was "Democracy in literature" (Criticism 187)--a way to end class-divisions. In Criticism and Fiction, Howells saw Romantic tendencies in literature as "one of the last refuges of the aristocratic spirit which is disappearing from politics and society, and is now seeking to shelter itself in æsthetics" (187). Moreover, he said that the "pride of caste is becoming the pride of taste; but as before, it is averse to the mass of men; it consents to know them only in some conventionalized and artificial guise" (187). So, to Howells, Romanticism was elitist. It showed no common ground between the have's and have-not's, and was, consequently, presenting and promoting an unreal image of the world. When Romantic literature did show the "mass of men," it did so superficially and with stereotypes. Howells saw Realism as a remedy for the damaging effects Romanticism supposedly had. By showing real people, with real lives and problems, doing real things, art would let people "know one another better" (188).

Now, by discussing Howells as a Realist, and showing that he was an influence on Twain, I do not want to create the impression that Twain would not have been a Realist writer without him. Twain was very much an established writer before he sent those two manuscripts to Howells in 1874. His first novel, The Innocents Abroad, had "enjoyed, Twain wrote to a friend, 'the largest sale of a four-dollar book [. . .] ever achieved in America in so short a time.' Lists of all-time best-sellers usually included Innocents Abroad" (Dickinson 400). Moreover, there are aspects of The Innocents Abroad and Roughing It that are very much Realist. An example is the unimpressed attitude of Twain's persona when he views "Holy Relics," like Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper: "The colors are dimmed with age; the countenances are scaled and marred, and nearly all expression is gone from them; the hair is a dead blur upon the wall, and there is no life in the eyes. Only the attitudes are certain" (Innocents 142). Yet, Twain explains, people stand before the piece and make awe-inspired exclamations. Twain's persona, supposedly the average-guy from the United States, cannot understand the behavior of the people making the exclamations, given the subject matter. To us, his readers, Twain plays the child that announces to the crowd that the emperor is wearing no clothes--he tells the truth, as he sees it. However, he does so with an acknowledgment that it is possible that there is something related to the painting to be appreciated:

We can imagine the beauty that was once in an aged face; we can imagine the forest if we see the stumps . . . I am willing to believe that the eye of the practiced artist can rest upon "The Last Supper" and renew a luster where only a hint of it is left, supply a tint that has faded away, restore an expression that is gone; patch and color and add to the dull canvas until at last its figures shall stand before him aglow with the life, the feeling, the freshness, yea, with all the noble beauty that was theirs when they came from the hand of the master. But I cannot work this miracle (143).

Another of many examples of Twain's Realism before working with Howells occurs in Roughing It. In chapter forty-seven, Twain talks about "Scotty" Briggs's meeting with a clergyman to discuss funeral arrangements for a character named Buck Fanshaw. Although the two characters speak English, they speak it differently, so they have a difficult time communicating. In recounting the meeting and the two men's conversation, Twain claims to present authentic frontier language.

So, Twain could be Realist without Howells. However, given the facts that Twain had grown up in a small town by the Mississippi (Hannibal, Missouri), been a steamboat pilot for several years, and, by the time he put pen to paper and began writing "Old Times," been away from the river for over a decade, it is understandable to think that Twain might, in writing "Old Times," tend to be more than a bit un-Realistic. After all, as the proverb says, absence makes the heart grow fonder. It seems likely that Twain would have written a much different work if he had not had Howells as an editor. For one thing, I think that Howells acted as a grounding force for Twain. If so, this hypothesis would explain some of the things Twain does as a writer in "Old Times." In the following pages, I will show that Twain often becomes Romantic, or far-fetched and "made up," to use Howells's phrase, but then comes back down to earth by showing the truth behind the "artificial guise," to use another of Howells's phrases.8 All in all, if we trust Bell's version of Howellsian Realism, which I mentioned earlier, where the writer must discredit the irresponsible, even--if I may add--if the subject of discredit is the writer's own words, then we can see a lot of Howells's influence in "Old Times."

From the beginning of "Old Times," Twain9 is in an "Ah, those were the good ol' days" tone. Twain explains that the number one goal, the "one permanent ambition" (Old Times 1), of the boys in the small riverside town where he grew up was "to be a steamboatman" (1). He says that the reason for this had to do with the popularity of the steamboats in the townspeople's eyes. Twain's village was always very quiet and lifeless--until any time a steamboat arrived. When that happened, the entire "dead town [became] alive and moving. Drays, carts, men, boys, all [would] go hurrying from many quarters to a common centre, the wharf. Assembled there, the people [would] fasten their eyes upon the coming boat as upon a wonder they [were] seeing for the first time" (2).

The reason that Twain and his friends revered the steamboatmen was because of all of the attention they got from the inhabitants of the village. Basically, Twain and the other youths wanted a job on one of those boats so that they could be the recipients of all of the attention that children--or, to stick to Twain's description, entire towns--lavished. Twain and his friends made icons out of even the lowest worker on a steamboat--workers whose jobs, had they been located on land, would never be a first choice for a career:

I first wanted to be a cabin-boy, so that I could come out with a white apron on and shake a table-cloth over the side, where all my old comrades could see me; later I thought I would rather be the deck-hand who stood on the end of the stage-plank with the coil of rope in his hand, because he was particularly conspicuous. But these were only daydreams--they were too heavenly to be contemplated as real possibilities (5).

Even the person who shakes the crumbs off of the steamship's dining room tablecloths was a figure of awe! Twain's reminiscences about the celebrity status of the boat's workers may be very accurate, because it seems like Twain and the other boys in his village viewed working on a steamship the same way, possibly, as children of today view working as a fireman and getting to ride on a fire engine. In both cases, the object of interest is an object of interest because of a distorted vision. Children of today see the bright red fire engines, the ladders, and the dalmatians, and hear the sirens, and think that it is all a show. They see how their parents pull their car over to the side of the street to let the fire engine go by and think things like the children in "Old Times" do. At this point, I should say that my intention is comparison, and not to make light of firefighters. The children of today do not see the other side of the job, like the danger that firemen face and the long hours they work. Twain was the same. He never saw a bad side to the idea of being a steamboatman--until he became one.

So, given the similarity to modern children's attitudes about fire men, we see that Twain and his comrades's behavior was authentic. Children really make heroes out of images. However, as adults, we recognize the complications that having any job involves, but Twain never comments on them--he never distances himself from the youthful fantasy with a bit of reality. At least, not until later in the work. As "Old Times" continues, Twain pays a steamboatman to teach him how to be a pilot--still in an effort to get the celebrity status he thought, as a child, that that job brings: "I entered upon the small enterprise of 'learning' twelve or thirteen hundred miles of the great Mississippi River with the easy confidence of my time of life" (9). However, Twain's "easy confidence" was soon shaken by having to work midnight watches:

[The midnight watch] was a detail in piloting that had never occurred to me at all. I knew that boats ran all night, but somehow I had never happened to reflect that somebody had to get up out of a warm bed to run them. I began to fear that piloting was not quite so romantic as I had imagined it was; there was something very real and work-like about this new phase of it (10).

Additionally, Twain finds out that other aspects of the job are not as easy as he had previously thought. Before he started learning the trade, he "supposed that all a pilot had to do was to keep his boat in the river, and [he] did not consider that that could be much of a trick, since it was so wide" (9). Twain is told that if we wants to be a steamboatman, he must learn every thing there is to know about the river. Knowing every aspect of the river is not the same as knowing how to get from place to place, however, Twain had "to know it just like A B C" (13). At one point, Twain reflects that "in order to be a pilot a man had got to learn more than any one man ought to be allowed to know; and . . . He must learn it all over again in a different way every twenty-four hours" (19), because the Mississippi river changed its shape a lot. Again and again, Twain tells how impossible the goal seemed but soon, he did learn the river and became a pilot: "The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book--a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice" (26).

Having overcome the difficulties that becoming a pilot involved did not result in happiness for Twain, however. The glamour of his position had faded from his mind as he devoted his attention to the river. Ignorance is bliss, and Twain had overcome his ignorance about being a steamboatman:

Now when I had mastered the language of [the Mississippi] and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet, I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too. I had lost something which could never be restored to me while I lived. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry had gone out of the majestic river! (27)

At this point, Twain's reminiscences about "the good ol' days" have become something much more substantial. "Old Times" is, with its development from ideal to reality, very much about innocence and experience, not in any sexual sense, but in the sense of a person becoming mature in the way he sees the world. For example, in the third installment of "Old Times," Twain describes a stirringly beautiful scene of the Mississippi, from the perspective he had had when he first started travelling on it. He creates a wonderful photograph with words. Next, Twain describes the same scene through the eyes of a pilot because, he says: "a day came when I began to cease from noting the glories and the charms which the moon and the sun and the twilight wrought upon the river's face; another day came when I ceased altogether to note them" (27). Every feature of the river, to Twain the pilot, is a sign of some problem to be dealt with. Most of the beauty on the river's face actually masks danger. Finally, Twain concludes that "all the value any feature of [the river] had for me now was the amount of usefulness it could furnish toward compassing the safe piloting of a steamboat" (28).

Now, by discussing this innocence/experience theme, I do not mean to suggest that Twain regretted his decision to be a pilot. He loved the job. At one point, he said to Howells: "I am a person who would quit authorizing in a minute to go to piloting, if [Mrs. Clemens] would stand it. I would rather sink a steamboat than eat, any time" (8 Dec. 1874, 50). What I do mean to suggest is that Twain was presenting a very Realist view of how people are. Although Twain was satisfied with the position he had attained, a part of him regretted what he lost in pursuit of it. It seems that his meaning in "Old Times" is that it is all right to wish for a more simple life without having to give anything up. Otherwise, why would a man who loved the life of a pilot, with all of the things it involved, be able to say the following?:

What does the lovely flush in beauty's cheek mean to a doctor but a "break" that ripples above some deadly disease?10 Are not all her visible charms sown thick with what are to him the signs and symbols of hidden decay? Does he ever see her beauty at all, or does n't he simply view her professionally, and comment upon her unwholesome condition all to himself? And does n't he sometimes wonder whether he has gained most or lost most by learning his trade? (29)

In my opinion, one of the central messages of "Old Times" is that in life there are two worlds--innocence, or inexperience, and experience--and each of them wants the qualities that the other possesses.

At one point during the production of "Old Times," Twain told Howells that: "Any muggins can write about Old Times on the Miss. of 500 different kinds, but I am the only man alive that can scribble about the piloting of that day" (3 Dec. 1874, 47). History tells us that the latter point was definitely correct. However, as I have said before in this paper, I think that it is also true that Twain wouldn't have been able to write "Old Times" the way he did had it not been for Howells's influence. Twain's novels, before "Old Times," were very anecdotal.11 In both The Innocents Abroad and Roughing It, there is almost no structure beyond the one that time supplies--the chronological order of events. Twain discusses the subjects of Southern Europe, the Holy Land and the West American Frontier by telling about their history and his experiences as he traveled through them. "Old Times" is very different, however. As I mentioned before, it is a story of maturation, of a boy becoming a man, of a riverside villager becoming a steamboatman. Like the two earlier works, "Old Times" does present itself as being autobiographical (in a very liberal definition of the word), but, unlike the other two works, it concerns itself less with the external details of being a part of the setting and more with the internal details. Basically, in "Old Times" the narrator is a more fully developed character. This is not to say that Twain does not digress from his main topic sometimes. Indeed, "Old Times" would not be a Twain writing if there were not at least a few side trips during the piece's journey from beginning to end. However, none of Twain's side trips in "Old Times" stray as far away from the subject of the work as they do in The Innocents Abroad and Roughing It. For example, in The Innocents Abroad, as Twain tells about the history of various parts of Europe, he often tells stories that are related to some landmark he encounters, and then he discusses the story itself. By the time he finishes doing this, he has used up the better part of an entire chapter! This happens in chapter fifteen, where Twain, after mentioning the grave of Abelard and Héloïse, tells their story in detail and then discusses why he thinks that the one of the story's characters is misunderstood. It is very engaging, but only loosely related to sightseeing in France.

Roughing It has many example of Twain taking side trips in his writing--some are well very known, like chapter fifty-three's "Jim Blaine and His Grandfather's Ram," in which Twain tells about a man who, every time he got drunk, started to tell the story of his grandfather's old ram, but "always maundered off, interminably, from one thing to another, till his whisky got the best of him and he fell asleep" (Roughing 367-8),12 or the chapter I mentioned earlier, about the funeral arrangements for Buck Fanshaw. Both examples are great stories and help to make Roughing It a very good book, but they only relate to the West American Frontier in terms of their setting.

In "Old Times," however, Twain generally sticks to his experiences while trying to learn to be a pilot. Perhaps this is because of the fact that "Old Times" is a short work. More likely, however, is the fact that it was written specifically for The Atlantic Monthly. I believe that since Twain was writing with the knowledge that an editor would be going over his work, he tended to be more careful about keeping to the subject. This hypothesis extends beyond the simple idea of Twain writing to please Howells, it also has to do with financial issues. Twain was being paid to write about his days on the Mississippi--not about other, loosely related, subjects. Howells wanted Twain's reminiscences only, and Twain, if he had thought of any side trips while writing "Old Times," would make more money if he saved them for separate publication. All in all, it was in Twain's best interest to stick to the subject.

In comparison to the earlier works I have mentioned above, the only side trips in "Old Times" are still closely related to the topic of Twain's experiences on the Mississippi. One side trip is a history of the pilots's union, presented in a way that makes it seem very accurate and Realist (in both the philosophic and descriptive sense of the word). Another is an exciting account of a steamboat race that challenges the well-known image of steamboats always traveling slowly on the river. These examples are digressions only because they leave the subject of Twain's education on the river.

The creation and publication of "Old Times" was a very different experience for Twain. It was a turning point, really, where Twain stopped presenting himself as a humorist, or comedian, who happened to write, and began to show a more serious side. This turning point started with Howells's publication of "A True Story," the short work that was more serious and dramatic than humorous. Then, with the influence of Howells and his requirement that Twain "stick to actual fact and character in the thing, and give things in detail" (3 Dec. 1874, 46), Twain developed his skills as a more serious writer and made a profound statement about the pleasures and pains of getting something that you most want in life, which, for Twain, was to become a pilot on the Mississippi. With "Old Times," Twain's work was becoming much more deep and rich in meaning. His next book would be The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, a significant step towards his masterpiece Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, where he would make one of his greatest artistic statements. I think that it was the fact that Twain was being taken seriously by Howells that made it possible for him to make the turn to writing about more serious subjects. I think that if Twain had never visited Howells to thank him for the good review of The Innocents Abroad, then he may have taken a much different path as a writer--one that may have led to obscurity.


1 There is a short story, from that era, titled "Some Learned Fables for Good Old Boys and Girls," however. It can be found in The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain (see "Works Consulted" for additional information).

2 The square brackets here (i.e., "[never]") are not mine, although the sets that occur later in this same quotation are.

3 Throughout this essay, I reproduce quoted material as it appears in whatever source it came from. For example, "&" often appears instead of "and," numbers are often not spelled-out ("5" instead of "five"), and "does n't," instead of the correct "doesn't," is used in all quotes from "Old Times." Additionally, I have not corrected spelling errors, like "gazeteer" (page five) and "æsthetics" (page six).

4 Joseph Twichell.

5 The watchman scene problem must have been fixed, because it did appear in the first installment of "Old Times," and can be found at the end of chapter five of Life on the Mississippi.

6 McMahon notes the source of the preceding quotation as follows: "10:251 (August 1862) Review of Henry Kingsley, Ravenshoe" (McMahon 104).

7 McMahon's citation for the Howells quotes in this passage: "17:777 (June, 1866) William Dean Howells, Review of Bayard Taylor, The Story of Kenneth" (McMahon 104).

8 These are both phrases from Howells quotations that I used elsewhere in the essay. The first comes from 24 Nov. 1874, 43, and the second is from Criticism 187.

9 I should explain, at this point, that when I speak of Twain as a character in "Old Times," I am referring to the persona that Twain, the writer (Sam Clemens), presented as himself.

10 Twain is using a river metaphor here.

11 I exclude The Gilded Age because it was not written by Twain alone.

12 By mentioning the chapter from Roughing It about Jim Blaine, I do not mean to imply any serious similarity between Twain and his character, because Twain was never as bad with his digressions as Jim Blaine is shown to be. I just mentioned it because it is a well-known Twain story--I've seen it anthologized many times.

Works Consulted

Bell, Michael Davitt. The Problem of American Realism: Studies in the Cultural History of a Literary Idea. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1993.

Clemens, Samuel L. and William Dean Howells. Mark Twain-Howells Letters: The Correspondence of Samuel L. Clemens and William Dean Howells: 1872-1910. Ed. Henry Nash Smith and William M. Gibson. Vol. 1. Cambridge, MA: Belknap P of Harvard UP, 1960.

Crowley, John W. "Howells, William Dean." The Mark Twain Encyclopedia. New York: Garland, 1993.

Cummings, Sherwood. "Mark Twain's Theory of Realism; or the Science of Piloting." Studies in American Humor 2 (1976): 209-21.

Dickinson, Leon T. "Innocents Abroad, The." The Mark Twain Encyclopedia. New York: Garland, 1993.

Howells, William Dean. 3 Dec. 1874. Clemens and Howells 46-7.

---. 23 Nov. 1874. Clemens and Howells 42-3.

---. 24 Nov. 1874. Clemens and Howells 43-4.

---. 8 Sept. 1874. Clemens and Howells 24-5.

---. 17 Sept. 1874. Clemens and Howells 25-6.

---. 30 Sept. 1874. Clemens and Howells 32.

---. Criticism and Fiction, by William Dean Howells [and] The Responsibilities of the Novelist, by Frank Norris. American Century Ser. New York: Hill and Wang, 1967.

---. "The Innocents Abroad." Rev. of The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain. My Mark Twain: Reminiscences and Criticisms. Ed. Marilyn Austin Baldwin. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State UP, 1967. 89-94.

Kaplan, Justin. Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1966.

McMahon, Helen. Criticism of Fiction: A Study of Trends in the Atlantic Monthly 1857-1898. New York: Bookman Associates, 1952.

Shi, David E. Facing Facts: Realism in American Thought and Culture, 1850-1920. New York: Oxford UP, 1995.

Smith, Henry Nash and William M. Gibson, ed. Footnote 3 to: Twain, Mark. 25 Nov. 1874. Clemens and Howells 44-5.

Twain, Mark. 3 Dec. 1874. Clemens and Howells 47-48.

---. 8 Dec. 1874. Clemens and Howells 49-50.

---. 18 Jan. 1876. Clemens and Howells 121-3.

---. 5 July 1875. Clemens and Howells 91-4.

---. 25 Nov. 1874. Clemens and Howells 44-5.

---. 24 Oct. 1874. Clemens and Howells 34-5.

---. 2 Sept. 1874. Clemens and Howells 22-3.

---. The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrims Progress. New York: Signet Classic, 1980.

---. "Old Times on the Mississippi." Great Short Works of Mark Twain. Ed. Justin Kaplan. New York: Harper and Row, 1967.

---. "A True Story." The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain. Ed. Charles Neider. New York: Bantam, 1990. 94-8.

---. Roughing It. Ed. Harriet Elinor Smith and Edgar Marquess Branch. Berkeley, CA: U of California P, 1995.