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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The undiscovered "territory" : Mark Twain’s later Huck and Tom stories Phelps, Henry Carr


This dissertation looks at all works of Mark Twain's. concerning the boys Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, particularly those written after the completion of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). These include the two published narratives, Tom Sawyer Abroad (1893) and "Tom Sawyer, Detective" (1896), and five fragments unpublished in Twain's lifetime, but recently issued by the University of California Press in the volumes of the Mark Twain Papers Mark Twain's Hannibal, Huck & Tom (ed. Walter Blair) and Mark Twain's Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts (ed. William M. Gibson). These five fragments are "Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians" (1884), "Tom Sawyer's Conspiracy" (1897-1899), "Doughface" (c. 1897), "Schoolhouse Hill" (1898), and "Tom Sawyer's Gang Plans a Naval Battle" (c. 1900). After completing Huckleberry Finn, Twain wrote or tried to write many more stories about Tom and Huck, continuing their adventures. Most of these were never finished, and the two that were completed and published are generally considered to be greatly inferior to the earlier novels about the boys. Despite their flaws, though, these later narratives do possess hitherto undetected significance and value. A major aspect of the later stories about the boys is Twain's deliberate and persistent attempt over a period of thirty years to have Tom Sawyer grow up from a thoughtless boy to a responsible adult. Twain's efforts to do this are visible in most of the later works, and the prominence of this attempted development demonstrates that Twain was vitally interested in the problems of maturity and becoming an adult. For him, childhood was not merely a nostalgic refuge from the problems and complexities of life, as scholars have tended to assume; rather, it was a time of often painful testing in preparation for the difficulties of adult life. In addition, the later Tom and Huck stories contain elements that both parallel and supplement Twain's better known works from this time. The differences and similarities between the narratives about the boys and his other works help to enhance our understanding of Twain's thinking on a number of subjects. Among these subjects are the Transcendent Figure, the "Matter of Hannibal," and the folly of romanticism. This dissertation, then, casts new light on hitherto obscure writings by Twain; it attempts to assess their value and illuminate aspects of Twain's thought that have not yet been the subject of close scrutiny. In particular, the willingness of Twain to grapple with issues of profound complexity is revealed in these works more clearly perhaps than anywhere else in his canon.

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