Mark Twain and the Spiritual Crisis of His Age

By Harold K. Bush | Go to book overview

2
Mark Twain's Wife

The Moral Ethos of the Victorian Home

In June of 1867, a young and fiery Missouri journalist dined and drank with the editors of the New York Tribune, discussing among other things the nature of the travel letters he would submit to them in the coming months. Samuel Clemens was restless, curious, and just on the verge of becoming one of the most unusual and influential voices in American cultural history. His eyes stalked his listeners with a charged and mildly sarcastic attitude. He had been commissioned to travel via steamer as one of many pilgrims on an ocean journey to the cultural holy land of Europe, and then on to the spiritual Holy Land of the Middle East. The voyage aboard the Quaker City was conceived by members of Henry Ward Beecher's Plymouth Church in New York City—perhaps the most famous church in America at that time. Beecher's church was so well known that young Sam had visited there frequently, and with his letters of introduction had met and become friends with the famous preacher. Beecher was himself originally announced to be one of the pilgrims on the Quaker City journey—along with famed Civil War General William T. Sherman—but both had to withdraw at the last moment. The trip was advertised as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the world's most important shrines, and Sam Clemens could hardly wait to begin: he wrote home to his family in Missouri that he was "wild with impatience to move—move—Move!"1

As it turned out, the pilgrimage aboard the Quaker City would initi-

-55-

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Mark Twain and the Spiritual Crisis of His Age
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Mark Twain's Roots 20
  • 2: Mark Twain's Wife 55
  • 3: Mark Twain's Pastor 83
  • 4: Mark Twain's Liberal Faith 126
  • 5: Mark Twain's Civil War 161
  • 6: Mark Twain's American Adam 205
  • 7: Mark Twain's Grief 233
  • Acknowledgments 285
  • Notes 289
  • Bibliography 311
  • Index 333
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