Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mark Twain writes about Would-Be Claimants to the Name Shakespeare

Dr. Buford Jones
I once took an entire. semester-long seminar on Mark Twain. If memory serves, the professor was Dr. Buford Jones, a professor who does not fare particularly well on that student-ranking system ratemyprofessor.com but I loved his classes in American lit and took all of them. (And for some reason, I remember this: he was from the Midwest somewhere and pronounced "Jaguar" like "jag-wire." And he would occasionally poke fun at Reynolds Price, the noted novelist and poet, who also taught a well-regarded class on John Milton. You had to be a junior to take Price's class, so that was a long, three-year wait, but worth it.) But I digress.

In the Twain seminar we went way beyond the usual Twain oeuvre. Of course we read Huckleberry Finn (again) but we also read critic Leslie Fiedler's intriguing essay on the homoerotic subtext of the book, "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in Huck Honey!" Fiedler was the author of Love and Death in the American Novel, a book that deeply impressed me at the time. I also loved that he was a proponent of genre fiction, which is pretty much all I read when I wasn't reading for my classes.

Twain left an enormous pile of unpublished manuscripts and diary entries and one of them was a huge section of thoughts calls "Is Shakespeare Dead?" You can read it here. It's very entertaining, particularly if you love the cranky side of Twain.

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