Vol 3 Section 0116
it.—Saturday night we had an authors’ show—Page, Mabie, Van Dyke, Warner and I read—for the wounded soldiers, and we lacked little or nothing of having you with us. I suppose you cannot realize how often you are on our tongues; if you want to achieve our forgetfulness you must guess again. You have pervaded your century almost more than any other man of letters, if not quite more; and it is astonishing how you keep spreading.
Howells then wrote of the accidental nature of the literary colony in York Harbor, something Sam would experience in a few years. He touched on the weather, his wife’s health, and the work he did on his “gewöhnlich novel” (Their Silver Wedding Journey). He confided that Alden had ended the “Editor’s Study” in Harpers, he being “against all departments, as not modern.” He then related politics:
Everything literary here is filled with the din of arms, but Providence, which has turned our war for humanity into a war for coaling-stations, seems to have peace in charge and to be bringing it about. I hope so; for then Mrs. Howells and I will stop fighting, she being a Jingo.
He thought “Stirring Times in Austria” was “a mighty good paper,” that Sam made “the whole thing delightfully intelligible” [MTHL 2: 672-4]. Note: persons noted: Walter Hines Page, currently ed. of the Atlantic; Hamilton Wright Mabie, critic for the Outlook; Henry Van Dyke, popular essayist and pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church, NYC.
August 3 Tuesday
Wednesday – Sam’s recorded in his notebook
that he “Began
Hellfire Hotchkiss” on this day [NB
42 TS 24]. Sam’s alternate
title was “Sugar-Rag Hotchkiss” [MTS&B
175n5; see surviving chapters, p. 175-203].
F. Kaplan writes of this unfinished work:
“Hellfire Hotchkiss,” an extended story intended as a novella, contained his father, mother, and Orion, barely transformed. Hellfire herself is an extraordinarily talented, brave young woman so attracted to and successful at masculine activities that she raises issues of gender identity that fascinated Twain, a representation of his inner struggle about female roles. The cross-gender and cross-dressing elements seemed the other side of the coin of his conventional desires for his daughters and wife. He had taken at least one opportunity to dress as a woman for public fun and photographer, and he had made cross-dressing important to the plot of Pudd’nhead Wilson. “Hellfire Hotchkiss” remained unfinished, like “Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians,” because Twain’s imagination took him into dangerous complexities that his Victorian prudence could not pursue to a conclusion .
On the reasons for Sam not finishing any of the books begun this summer at Weggis, Paine writes:
“Clemens appeared to be at this time out of tune with fiction. Perhaps his long book of travel had disqualified his invention. He realized that these various literary projects were leading nowhere, and one after another he dropped them” [MTB 1045].
F.R. Rogers, editor of MTS&B, traces Sam’s uses of Hotchkiss (Hitchcock) as a character in several other works, and offers that Sam concluded in 1898 that only “Which Was the Dream?” among the works started at Weggis was important enough to continue [172-3]. See Aug. 16, 1898 to Howells. Rogers offers: “The evidence of paper and ink indicates that, except for revisions and inserts, the entire surviving text was written at Weggis before the Clemenses moved to Vienna in September” .
Notes: See June-July 1864 entry (Vol I, MTDBD) for Lillie Hitchcock (Eliza Wychie Hitchcock 1843 -1929), the original inspiration for “Hellfire Hotchkiss.” 18- year-old Lillie was a cross-dressing, cigar smoking, poker-playing girl who, on a dare, rode a cowcatcher on the Napa railroad. Sam was fascinated by Lillie, and spent many hours with her.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.