The Ordeal of Mark Twain (Version 2)

Van Wyck BROOKS (1886 - 1963)

The Ordeal of Mark Twain analyzes the literary progression of Samuel L. Clemens and attributes shortcomings to Clemens' mother and wife. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says, Brooks' work "was a psychological study attempting to show that Twain had crippled himself emotionally and curtailed his genius by repressing his natural artistic bent for the sake of his Calvinist upbringing." Also, Brooks says, his literary spirit was sidelined as "...Mark Twain was inducted (with the success of 'Innocents Abroad') into the Gilded Age, launched, in defiance of that instinct which only for a few years was to allow him inner peace, upon the vast welter of a society blind like himself, like him committed to the pursuit of worldly success." And, still more disturbingly, Brooks maintains... "We shall see that in the end, never having been able to develop, to express itself, to fulfill itself, to air itself in the sun and the wind of the world, it turned as it were black and malignant, like some monstrous, morbid inner growth, poisoning Mark Twain's whole spiritual system. We have now to note its constant blind efforts to break through the censorship that had been imposed on it, to cross the threshold of the unconscious and play its part in the conscious life of this man whose will was always enlisted against it." The implication of all this begs the question, "What might a truly unleashed Mark Twain have produced?" For a recording of a New York Times review of this book, go this link: Review ( John Greenman & Wikipedia)

Genre(s): Biography & Autobiography, Literary Criticism, Writing & Linguistics

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 I. INTRODUCTORY: MARK TWAIN'S DESPAIR John Greenman
01:02:03
Play 02 II. THE CANDIDATE FOR LIFE John Greenman
01:03:14
Play 03 III. THE GILDED AGE John Greenman
00:53:15
Play 04 IV. IN THE CRUCIBLE John Greenman
01:05:40
Play 05 V. THE CANDIDATE FOR GENTILITY John Greenman
01:10:00
Play 06 VI. EVERYBODY'S NEIGHBOR John Greenman
00:49:52
Play 07 VII. THE PLAYBOY IN LETTERS John Greenman
01:12:39
Play 08 VIII. THOSE EXTRAORDINARY TWINS John Greenman
00:49:04
Play 09 IX. MARK TWAIN'S HUMOR John Greenman
00:54:13
Play 10 X. LET SOMEBODY ELSE BEGIN John Greenman
01:03:57
Play 11 XI. MUSTERED OUT John Greenman
00:59:09