Mark Twain's Audience

Mark Twain's Audience : A Critical Analysis of Reader Responses to the Writings of Mark Twain

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Mark Twain has been one of the most popular American writers since 1868. This book shifts the focus of Twain studies from the writer to the reader. This study of Twain's readership and lecture audiences makes use of statistics, literary biography, twentieth-century newspapers, memoirs, diaries, travel journals, letters, literature, interviews, and reading circle reports. The book allows the audience of Mark Twain to speak for themselves in defining their relationship to his work. Twain collected letters from his readers but there are also many other sources of which critics should be aware. The voices of these readers present their views, their likes-and sometimes dislikes, their emotional reactions and identification, and their deep attachment and love for Twain's characters, stories, themes, and sensibilities. Bringing together contemporary reactions to Twain and his works and those of later audiences, this book paints a portrait of the American people and of American society and culture. While the book is about Mark Twain, or Samuel Clemens, it presents a larger cultural study of twentieth-century America and the early years of the twentieth century. The book includes Twain's international audience but makes its majorly scholarly contribution in the analysis of Twain's audience in America. It analyzes the people and their values, their reading habits and cultural views, their everyday experiences in the face of the drastic changes of the emerging nation coping with cataclysmic events, such as the Industrial Revolution and the consequences of the Civil War. This book serves as a model for using the audience of a prominent writer to analyze American history, American culture, and the American psyche. This book examines a historical time and an emerging national consciousness that defined the American identity after the Civil more

Product details

  • Hardback | 238 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 22.86mm | 539.99g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739190512
  • 9780739190517

Review quote

McParland studies readership in an attempt to place Twain in terms of the perceptions and responses of reading 'circles,' social strata, and regional audiences. McParland references Rasmussen and other studies, and he cites a number of letters to Twain from his readers in the collection of the Mark Twain Papers at Berkeley. In so doing, he creates a patchwork of responses reflecting readers' sense of Twain as a person and the meaning to them of his works and career...the text is clear and the documents provide interesting reading...Overall, the information McParland offers will stimulate thought about Twain's reception. Chapters on marketing subscription books, childhood reading, the global audience, and responses to Twain's place in literature from 1910 through 1960 read smoothly and should hold a reader's interest. Summing Up: Recommended ... Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. CHOICE This is more than a study in literary influence. Robert McParland has driven a core sample deep into the history of American culture, revealing the responses that Mark Twain evoked in readers of all social and ethnic backgrounds. -- Jonathan Rose, Drew Universityshow more

About Robert P. McParland

Robert McParland is associate professor of English at Felician College in New more

Table of contents

CONTENTS Acknowledgments Chapter 1. America's Mark Twain Chapter 2. The Innocents Abroad and the American Reader Chapter 3. Marketing Mark Twain Chapter 4. The Trouble That Began at Eight: Audiences for Twain's Lectures Chapter 5. Childhood Reading Chapter 6. Reading in Cultural Institutions Chapter 7. The Variety of Readers: Gender, Race, Ethnicity Chapter 8. The Global Audience Chapter 9. Mark Twain's Audience and His Afterlife Notes Bibliography About the author Indexshow more