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Mark Twain among the Indians and Other Indigenous Peoples

Kerry Driscoll (Author)

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Mark Twain among the Indians and Other Indigenous Peoples is the first book-length study of the writer’s evolving views regarding the aboriginal inhabitants of North America and the Southern Hemisphere, and his deeply conflicted representations of them in fiction, newspaper sketches, and speeches. Using a wide range of archival materials—including previously unexamined marginalia in books from Clemens’s personal library—Driscoll charts the development of the writer’s ethnocentric attitudes about Indians and savagery in relation to the various geographic and social milieus of communities he inhabited at key periods in his life, from antebellum Hannibal, Missouri, and the Sierra Nevada mining camps of the 1860s to the progressive urban enclave of Hartford’s Nook Farm. The book also examines the impact of Clemens’s 1895–96 world lecture tour, when he traveled to Australia and New Zealand and learned firsthand about the dispossession and mistreatment of native peoples under British colonial rule. This groundbreaking work of cultural studies offers fresh readings of canonical texts such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Roughing It, and Following the Equator, as well as a number of Twain’s shorter works.
Kerry Driscoll is Professor of English at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut. She is the past president of the Mark Twain Circle of America and serves as a contributing editor of its journal, the Mark Twain Annual.
“A brilliant and comprehensive assessment of Twain’s contradictory feelings toward indigenous peoples. Kerry Driscoll takes us from family histories and world tours to reform movements and skit nights, weaving together astute new readings of classic texts and obscure essays. Beautifully written and analytically sharp, Mark Twain among the Indians makes a significant contribution to both literary and Native American studies.”—Philip J. Deloria, Harvard University

“Kerry Driscoll’s groundbreaking book is the most comprehensive engagement we have with Native Americans as a theme in Mark Twain’s writing and as a presence in Samuel Clemens’s life. This is a definitive history, evaluated with clarity, vigor, and poise.”—Bruce Michelson, author of Printer’s Devil: Mark Twain and the American Publishing Revolution and Mark Twain on the Loose

“This is the definitive account of Twain’s views about American Indians and other indigenous peoples from his earliest writings to his final ones. Thoroughly researched and presented in full detail, it shows how Twain’s early bigotry persisted but finally eased and shifted into a more humane and sensible understanding in his last years.”—Carter Revard, author of An Eagle Nation and Family Matters, Tribal Affairs

“The works of Mark Twain offer a great means of access to the complexities of American culture as the nation took possession of the continent and evolved toward its status as a superpower. In this analysis of Twain’s life and work, Kerry Driscoll has written the definitive study of the place of the Native American and other aboriginal peoples in the nation’s and Western world’s real and imagined communities. Her stance as a scholar and writer is very impressive: learned, generous, passionate without ever becoming polemical, and balanced without ever forgetting the real moral stakes involved.”—Stephen Railton, University of Virginia

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