By Ann M. Ryan, Joseph B. McCullough
Cosmopolitan Twain takes heavily Mark Twain’s existence as a citizen of city landscapes: from the streets of recent York urban to the palaces of Vienna to the suburban utopia of Hartford. conventional readings of Mark Twain orient his lifestyles and paintings by means of tremendously rural markers akin to the Mississippi River, the Wild West, and small-town the United States; but, as this assortment exhibits, Twain’s sensibilities have been both shaped within the city facilities of the area. those essays symbolize Twain either as a made from city frontiers and as a prophet of yank modernity, situating him squarely in the context of an evolving foreign and cosmopolitan community. As Twain traveled and lived in those locales, he bought languages, costumes, poses, and politics that made him one of many first really cosmopolitan international electorate. starting with ny City—where Twain spent extra of his existence than in Hannibal—we research that his early reports there fed his fascination with racial id and financial privilege. whereas in St. Louis and New Orleans, Twain built a strategic detachment that grew to become part of his cosmopolitan character. His touch with bohemian writers in San Francisco excited his objectives to develop into greater than a stand-up comedian, whereas sojourns in Buffalo and Hartford marked Twain’s uneasy lodging to domesticity and cultural prominence. London eventually liberated him from his narrowly built nationwide id, whereas Vienna allowed him to completely in attaining his transnational voice. the quantity ends via proposing Elmira, big apple, as a supplement, and anything of a counterpart, to Twain’s cosmopolitan existence, making a household retreat from the speed and complexity of an more and more city, glossy America. according to each one of those towns, Twain generated writings that marked America’s flow into the 20th century and towards the darker realities that made attainable this cosmopolitan kingdom. Cosmopolitan Twain offers Twain’s eventual descent into skepticism and melancholy now not as a departure from his early values yet really as a gloomy awakening into the recent phrases of yank identification, background, and ethical authority. This assortment finds a author who's decidedly much less static than the enduring portrait that dominates pop culture. It bargains a corrective to the generic snapshot of Twain because the nostalgic voice of America’s rural prior, providing Twain as a citizen of modernity and a visionary of an international and cosmopolitan destiny.
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Additional resources for Cosmopolitan Twain (Mark Twain and His Circle)
His wealth and worldliness guaranteed some power within the social and political landscapes he inhabited, while the transience of his lifestyle insulated and liberated him from the dangerous consequences of political engagement. His investment in Viennese politics could be a choice, an experiment rather than a historical imperative (best represented by his seat in the Reichsrath’s gallery, watching while a riot occurred). By the time he got to Vienna, Twain had a global perspective that—elitist as it was—made possible some of his more sweeping views and compelling claims about human civilization.
In the case of the Borneo twins, race exists as a category beyond pigmentation. ” Despite the supremacist assumption that equates whiteness with common humanity, we can hear in this passage the erosion of whiteness as a stable category for Clemens—a sea change that will eventually allow the adult Mark Twain to represent race as little more than a series of cultural markers. Although it’s likely that these performers were Caucasian, their physiognomy suggests to Clemens some other racial status or identity.
20. Lott, “Mr. Clemens and Jim Crow,” 142.