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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 175

rush away on its undogmatic task of reproducing the great days of the valley. Had Mark Twain undertaken to make another and a greater Gilded Age out of his matter, to portray the life of the river satirically on the largest scale, instead of in such dimensions as fit Huck’s boyish limitations of knowledge, he might possibly have made a better book, but he would have had to be another man. Being the man he was, he touched his peak of imaginative creation not by taking thought how he could be a Balzac to the Mississippi but by yarning with all his gusto about an adventure he might have had in the dawn of his days. Although he did not deliberately gather riches, riches came.
  A Tramp Abroad (1880), written about a walking trip which Mark Twain made in 1878 through the Black Forest and to the Alps with his friend the Rev. Joseph H. Twitchell, continued his now expected devices in humorous autobiography, without any important innovations. Certain episodes and certain descriptive passages emerge from the general level, but even they only emphasize the debt his imagination owed to memory. Writing too close to his facts he could never be at his richest. In 1882 he published his first historical novel, The Prince and the Pauper, avowedly for children and yet packed with adult satire in its account of how by a change of clothes Prince Edward, later Edward VI of England, and Tom Canty, a London beggar boy, underwent also a change of station and for an instructive period each tasted the other’s fare. By some such dramatic contrast Mark Twain, the radical American, preferred always to express his opinion of monarchical societies; like the older patriots, he set hatred



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