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Mark Twain at Home, Mark Twain at Home, 0817319158, 0-8173-1915-8, 978-0-8173-1915-1, 9780817319151, , , Mark Twain at Home, 0817389903, 0-8173-8990-3, 978-0-8173-8990-1, 9780817389901,

Mark Twain at Home
How Family Shaped Twain’s Fiction
Michael J. Kiskis, Foreword by Laura Skandera Trombley, Afterword by Gary Scharnhorst

Trade Cloth
2016. 128 pp.
978-0-8173-1915-1
Price:  $44.95 s
E Book
2016. 128 pp.
978-0-8173-8990-1
Price:  $44.95 d

Twain scholar Michael J. Kiskis opens this fascinating new exploration of Twain with the observation that most readers have no idea that Samuel Clemens was the father of four and that he lived through the deaths of three of his children as well as his wife. In Mark Twain at Home: How Family Shaped Twain’s Fiction, Kiskis persuasively argues that not only was Mark Twain not, as many believe, “antidomestic,” but rather that home and family were the muse and core message of his writing.
 
Mark Twain was the child of a loveless marriage and a homelife over which hovered the constant specter of violence. Informed by his difficult childhood, orthodox readings of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn frame these canonical literary figures as nostalgic—autobiographical fables of heroic individualists slipping the bonds of domestic life.
 
Kiskis, however, presents a wealth of biographical details about Samuel Clemens and his family that reinterpret Twain’s work as a robust affirmation of domestic spheres of life. Among Kiskis’s themes are that, as the nineteenth century witnessed high rates of orphanhood and childhood mortality, Clemens’s work often depicted unmoored children seeking not escape from home but rather seeking the redemption and safety available only in familial structures. Similarly, Mark Twain at Home demonstrates that, following the birth of his first daughter, Twain began to exhibit in his writing an anxiety with social ills, notably those that affected children.
 
In vigorous and accessible descriptions of Twain’s life as it became reflected in his prose, Kiskis offers a compelling and fresh understanding of this work of this iconic American author. 

Michael J. Kiskis was the coeditor of Mark Twain's Own Autobiography and Constructing Mark Twain.

Gary Scharnhorst is the author of Bret Harte: Opening the American Literary West and the editor of Mainly the Truth: Interviews with Mark Twain.

Laura Skandera Trombley is the author of Mark Twain’s Other Woman and Mark Twain in the Company of Women as well as a coeditor of Constructing Mark Twain.

"Twain's characters are often interpreted an individualists fleeing civilizing forces. Even in biographical criticism, Twain's increasing reliance on his family is seen as a threat to his iconoclastic voice. Pushing back against these dominant readings, Kiskis argues that domesticity and community are of primary importance in Twain's later works, especially in his novels between 1876 and 1894."
American Literature

"At a cultural moment when the humanities, and literary study more specifically, are striving to convince the world at large of their relevance, Michael Kiskis gives us a model of how to do so. It's a remarkable piece of writing." —Ann Ryan, coeditor of Cosmopolitan Twain

"Kiskis' focus on the centrality of domesticity and human connection is important to Mark Twain criticism, and, in many ways, a correction to the ways Mark Twain's work and his life have been read and analyzed." —John Bird, author of Mark Twain and Metaphor

Also of Interest

Mythologizing of Mark Twain
Edited by Sara Davis, Philip D. Beidler


Mark Twain in the Margins
by Joe B. Fulton


Mark Twain and Orion Clemens
by Philip Ashley Fanning


Mark Twain
Edited by Gary Scharnhorst