Academic journal article Mark Twain Journal

King Leopold's Soliloquy

Academic journal article Mark Twain Journal

King Leopold's Soliloquy

Article excerpt

Books Received

Mark Twain, King Leopold's Soliloquy. Intro, by Hunt Hawkins. Illustrated. New Orleans: University of New Orleans Press, 2016. 60 pp. Paper.

In 1905 Mark Twain published two dramatic monologues in which powerful rulers _ n if accused of uncaring cruelty condemn them- SMI|LUUUi selves in their own words-the Russian Czar Nicholas II in "The Czar's Soliloquy" and King Leopold II of Belgium in "King Leopold's Soliloquy." The latter polemic was rejected by the North American Review, presumably because of Twain's graphic depiction of the butchery inflicted on natives forced to collect ivory and rubber in Leopold's privately held territory. Soon thereafter this condemnatory piece went into print as a separate pamphlet, with drawings and photographs supplied by the Congo Reform Association as well as added supplementary materials corroborating and elaborating on the charges against Leopold.

The propaganda value of Twain's name and efforts is often commented on in scholarship related to Western imperialism and in 1996 the Oxford Mark Twain Edition included "King Leopold's Soliloquy" in its Following the Equator volume. …

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