The Author-Cat: Clemens's Life in Fiction

Article excerpt

The Author-Cat: Clemens's Life in Fiction Forrest G. Robinson. New York: Fordham University Press, 2007.

Mark Twain, like Abraham Lincoln, is for scholars and general readers a subject of infinite interest. Robinson's study of Mark Twain is especially revealing because it exhumes mankind's need-especially revealed in this author-to cover, like a cat, its droppings. In Twain the sense of universal guilt-especially manifest in him-is particularly evident. Twain's "failings" were numerous: indifference to slavery as a youngster, cutting tongue, greed for money, cottoning up to the elite, whom he detested. All these, and more, were manifest in the man and author. Robinson takes as his modus operandi the assumption that though Twain wrote numerous autobiographical sketches, the tormented Twain is best revealed in the fiction because in these works he could cover his dung or did not understand that he was revealing it. But his commitment was always present. He was ever in the land of "speculations on dreams, spiritualism, and the new psychology [which were] as intense and enduring as they were inconclusive. …