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Tracing Twain’s Travels

Following in the footsteps of a literary legend, 100 years later.
By David Espey

 

AROUND THE WORLD WITH MARK TWAIN
By Robert Cooper WG’58.
New York: Arcade Publishing, Inc., 2000.
420 pp., $27.95.
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When he was nearly 60 years old and bankrupt, Mark Twain went on a yearlong lecturing tour around the world in 1895 to raise money to pay off his debts. Accompanied by his wife Olivia and daughter Clara, he traveled across the northern United States, sailed from Seattle to the South Seas, and worked his way through Australia and New Zealand to India and South Africa before settling in England to write Following the Equator, the book that recounted his travels.
       In a labor of love, Robert Cooper, a retired professor of sociology and education at the Hebrew University, has followed the same path 100 years later, adding a dimension to Twain’s book through his own travel impressions, local press reviews of Twain’s performances and family archives. His book is a kind of extended literary pilgrimage and a tribute to the will, talent and spirit of America’s most famous 19th-century literary personage.
        “Old, broke, sick, and depressed,” Twain nevertheless managed to circumnavigate the globe, pack houses and charm audiences from Auckland to Calcutta to Capetown. Reporters followed in his wake, demanding countless interviews. Fortunately, Twain was a master at handling the press, throwing them quotable phrases at every turn. Despite the grueling circuit of lectures, he basically liked performing. Audiences turned him on.
       Cooper begins in Elmira, New York, where Twain wrote some of his best-known works. Elmira, “a booming and progressive industrial community” in the late 19th century, has fallen on hard times. (This chapter held special interest for me, since I grew up in Elmira; I had the odd sensation of seeing my hometown through the eyes of a travel writer.) Cooper strolls around Elmira, evoking its heyday in the late 1890s, when Twain and his family set out by train from the Erie station to begin his round-the world tour in Cleveland (where Twain’s creditors threatened to seize his luggage).
       Cooper must drive across the Midwest and imagine what the journey would have been like 100 years before. The Twains traveled by train and boat with 16 pieces of hand luggage and “a multitude of vast steamer trunks,” to accommodate the many changes of clothing and formal attire necessitated by Victorian custom.            Twain had a painful carbuncle on his leg which required constant treatment. In the course of the journey, his family faced seasickness, stifling heat, quarantines caused by cholera and smallpox, and cockroach-infested sea vessels. He suffered frequent colds and hoarseness in the throat, probably not helped by his daily cigars. (In a scholarly aside, Cooper notes that Twain’s manuscripts still bear the odor of his cigars.)
       Despite these obstacles, Twain wowed audiences in town after town. A master of timing and delivery, he continually reworked his material, which included the famous “Golden Arm” ghost story, a tongue-in-cheek disquisition on morality and quotable epigrams which he often appeared to invent on the spot. He could poke fun at pretensions of travel writing: “You know so much more of a country when you haven’t seen it than when you have.”
       Even his interviews produced memorable ironies: “Don’t forget my soulful eyes and deeply intelligent expression,” he offered to one journalist doing an article on him. In Sault Ste. Marie, a woman in the audience suffered a heart attack, “brought on perhaps, from compulsive laughing.” In Vancouver, the audience was “convulsed at times to the point of incoherence.” In Christchurch, New Zealand, the audience serenaded him at the end of his performance with a chorus of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Though Twain sometimes played to less than a full house, his agent more often booked additional appearances to satisfy demand.
       For Twain, “perhaps the most traveled writer of his generation,” there must have been more than a bit of dj vu in all of this. Many years before, he had written the best-selling travel book of the century, Innocents Abroad, and he had followed later with A Tramp Abroad. Yet he was delighted by much that he experienced, especially in India. “‘Father,’ wrote [his daughter] Clara about Clemens in India, ‘seemed like a young boy in his enthusiasm over everything he saw. He kept reiterating: ‘This wonderful land, this marvelous land! There can be no other like it.’ He loved the heat, the punkahs, the bungalows, and the continuous opportunity to wear white clothes without attracting attention.”
       Cooper is affectionate and loyal towards his subject, defending Twain against possible charges of racism and putting his ringing endorsement of the British empire into the context of the times. Twain could criticize imperialism as readily as he could praise it. Cooper quotes with satisfaction Twain’s statement that “There are many humorous things in the world, among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the savages.”
        Cooper knows that Twain is a hard act to follow, so he keeps a low profile himself as a traveler and focuses on the words and the impressions of his subject, one of the best literary entertainers of all times. Occasionally, he underplays his own adventures. While he and his wife were writing postcards in a Sri Lankan hotel, a suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden truck into a nearby building, killing at least 70 people and injuring more than 2,000. Cooper dutifully reports the incident, then returns to the much more peaceful moment when the Twains disembarked in the same country a century before. One wonders what Twain would have said in the face of a suicide bombing, the sort of event that distinguishes contemporary from Victorian travel.
        South Africa was Twain’s last stop on the tour; he arrived at a time when the Boer War was just around the corner. He had a chance to intervene politically when a number of men, including Americans, were imprisoned for taking part in an anti-Boer uprising encouraged by Cecil Rhodes. Twain met with Transvaal president Paul Kruger, and relished his political role enough to consider becoming U.S. consul in Johannesburg, an idea which his wife quickly vetoed. When he ended his tour and left South Africa, he told readers, “I seemed to have been lecturing a thousand years.”
        Cooper leaves us with a picture of Twain in the twilight of his career. The tour and the resulting book were a success; Twain was able to pay off debts incurred by his notorious investment in a failed typesetting machine which had relieved him of a sum that in today’s dollars would equal more than $1,280,000. He returned to New York with his family and was welcomed as a hero, but the earlier death of his daughter Suzie had burdened him with grief, and his beloved Olivia was to die a few years later. As Cooper acknowledges sadly, Following the Equator was Twain’s last major book. This study makes one want to revisit it.

Dr. David Espey directs the English Writing Program at Penn. He will be spending the 2000-01 academic year in Japan as a Fulbright lecturer.


BRIEFLY NOTED

A selection of recent books by alumni and faculty, or otherwise of interest to the University community. Descriptions are compiled from information supplied by the authors and publishers.

ADORN THE HALLS: History of the Art
Collection at Thomas Jefferson University

By Julie S. Berkowitz G’82.
Philadelphia: Thomas Jefferson University, 1999. 725 pp., $79.00.

Over its 175-year history, Thomas Jefferson University has received hundreds of paintings, sculptures, art works on paper, antique decorative arts, and richly illustrated, rare medical texts. Many have connections with nationally famous physicians of the 19th century. The university established a special gallery for three major portraits of faculty members by Thomas Eakins. Adorn the Halls is the culmination of a decade-long project to analyze and present the Jefferson collection. Berkowitz has served as Jefferson’s art historian since 1988.

LOUIS I. KAHN’S TRENTON JEWISH
COMMUNITY CENTER

By Susan G. Solomon Gr’97.
New York: Princeton Architectural Press. 189 pp., $19.95.
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When Louis I. Kahn received the commission for the Trenton Jewish Community Center in 1954, he was a revered teacher of architecture who had built public housing projects and a few private homes. The Trenton project demanded an innovative interpretation and Kahn responded with his first mature work and some of the most haunting buildings of his career. This is the first work to fully examine Kahn’s built and unbuilt Trenton plans. Solomon is an independent curator; she adapted this book from her dissertation: Secular and Spiritual Humanism: Louis I. Kahn’s Work for the Jewish Community in the 1950s and 1960s.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY MOUSE?:
Behavioral Phenotyping of Transgenic and Knockout Mice

By Jacqueline N. Crawley CW’71.
New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2000. 329 pp., $79.95.
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Mutant-mouse models are a powerful new tool to investigate the functions of genes and to develop treatments for genetic disorders. This introductory textbook analyzes mouse behaviors in targeted gene-mutation models of human genetic diseases, taking the reader through a three-tiered strategy for behavioral phenotyping that avoids a host of potential pitfalls. Experimental designs to minimize false positives and negatives are intensively described. Dr. Jacqueline (Lerner) Crawley is chief of behavioral neuropharmacology at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Her laboratory conducts research on neuropeptides mediating normal behaviors and implicated in human diseases, including Alzheimer’s, obesity, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. She is also the U.S. editor of the journal Neuropeptides and president of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society.

ON THE ROAD OF THE WINDS:
An Archaeological History of the Pacific
Islands Before European Contact

By Patrick Vinton Kirch C’71.
Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2000. 424 pp., $45.00.
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The Pacific Ocean covers one-third of the earth’s surface and encompasses many thousands of islands, the home to numerous societies and cultures. Among these indigenous Oceanic cultures are the intrepid Polynesian double-hulled canoe navigators, the atoll dwellers of Micronesia, the statue-carvers of remote Easter Island and the famed traders of Melanesia. Recent archaeological excavations, combined with allied research in historical linguistics, biological anthropology and comparative ethnography, have begun to reveal much new information about the long-term human history of the Pacific Islands. This book synthesizes the grand sweep of history there, beginning with the movement of early people out from Asia more than 40,000 years ago. Kirch is an anthropology professor at the University of California-Berkeley and the author of seven books.

A STORYTELLER: Mario Vargas Llosa Between Civilization and Barbarism
By Braulio Munoz Gr’77.
Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000. 144 pp., $56.95 (cloth); $17.95 (paper).
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Munoz, a professor of sociology at Swarthmore College, leaves behind the conventions of literary analysis to delve into the mysterious world of a living legend. He digs into the psychocultural core that has brought Vargas Llosa to his current standing as a Latin American intellectual leader. In so doing, he introduces unique understandings of Vargas Llosa’s identity as an embattled Mestizo Man, a truncated Lawgiver and a Storyteller. He also engages the debate concerning the role of the writer in Latin America, the merits and shortcomings of modernist and postmodernist thought, and the differences between neo-liberalism and alternative democratic positions.

CAN WE WEAR OUR PEARLS AND STILL BE FEMINISTS?:
Memoirs of a Campus Struggle

By Joan D. Mandle CW’66.
Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press, 2000. 280 pp., $19.95.
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When Joan Mandle accepted the position of director of women’s studies at Colgate University, she had specific goals in mind—to make the program stronger, more academically rigorous and publicly open. The program would resist becoming the captive of identity politics and refuse being marginalized on campus by appealing to and challenging all students and faculty interested in gender issues and social change. Just as she anticipated, she faced obstacles during this transformation. Among her critics were feminist students and faculty whose views of a successful program directly contradicted her own. While she set forth a policy of inclusiveness, they sought to maintain an exclusive community. Through her examination of the battles involved in creating an academically significant and ideologically open program, Mandle’s memoir provides insight into a possible avenue of change for feminism. Mandle is currently associate professor of sociology at Colgate.

REINVENTING DEMOCRATS
By Kenneth S. Baer C’94.
Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, 2000. 376 pp., $29.95.
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This book offers an insider’s story on how, after the failure of Walter Mondale’s campaign, a group of New Democrats successfully reformed their enfeebled party’s agenda, moved it toward the center and
recaptured the White House. Using interviews as well as archives and personal papers, Baer examines the role of the Democratic Leadership Council from its founding in 1985 through President Clinton’s second term in office. He takes readers behind the scenes in Little Rock to tell how DLC director Al From encouraged Clinton’s run for White House. He then explains how the DLC shaped the party’s agenda into a “Third Way” that embraced positions such as welfare reform, a balanced budget, free trade, a tough stance on crime and a strong defense.

MOVE OVER, GIRL
By Brian Peterson EAS’93 GEd’97.
New York: Villard Books, 2000. 288 pp., $19.95.
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Did you know the components of a good relationship when you were 20? Neither does college junior and former hoopster Tony Norris, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. A good-looking man with a gift for gab, Tony puts as much time into his studies of women as he does his courses. The problem is his grades are higher in his classes than in his relationships. He keeps falling for the wrong women and overlooking the right one, who’s under his nose. In the debut novel of this author, described as “a young, new voice in black commercial fiction,” Tony’s amorous adventures play out against the backdrop of his college years and the new responsibilities and experiences of coming of age. Peterson is senior information-technology support specialist for College House Computing. He also organized and has taught in a Saturday academy for West Philadelphia students at DuBois College House.

TRAVELS WITH THE WOLF: A Story of Chronic Illness
By Melissa Anne Goldstein C’92 GGS’95.
Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 2000. 274 pp., $65.00 (cloth); $22.00 (paper).
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Narrated through poetry and prose, Travels With the Wolf is an autobiographical account of Goldstein’s experiences with lupus. It is her story of becoming a young woman, writer and teacher in the presence of a severe, often debilitating, disease. It is an exploration of her relationships with her family and friends as the illness steals into their lives, and the record of her struggle to maintain her independence and identity despite disease. Goldstein uses her experiences as well as sociological, literary and historical research to portray and understand the dilemmas faced by chronically ill people in our society. She calls for reform of today’s health care system to better meet the needs of the chronically ill.

PROPHECY AND DIPLOMACY: The Moral Doctrine of John Paul II
Edited by John J. Conley C’73 and Joseph Koterski.
New York: Fordham University Press, 1999. 306 pp., $35.00 (cloth); $17.50 (paper).
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Since the beginning of his pontificate, John Paul II has provoked the admiration and consternation of the world for his positions on a range of subjects, from abortion to the workplace to the ethical controversies behind political disputes. In this volume, a group of 20 Jesuit scholars, representing a wide range of disciplines, analyzes the Pope’s teaching on moral issues and assesses the merits of the Pope’s theory from different political and theological standpoints. Conley is a professor of philosophy at Fordham University.

SWAMP GAS
By Nicole Paolini C’84.
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. 295 pp., $23.95.
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When the handful of Polish-American businesswomen in New Orleans choose Lana Pulaski as their candidate for district attorney, she is gung-ho. Lana, a lawyer who favors billboard ads and keeps her office shabby so as not to intimidate her unsophisticated clients, was first in her law school class. She cannily hides her intellectual bent under a huge, improbably red-orange hairdo, wears inch-thick makeup and clothes that by some miracle do not burst apart on her bountiful body. Her campaign becomes an unusual journey that includes her instant wedding to an eightysomething Cajun judge of fine family and dubious practices which she hopes will give her the local angle and touch of class she desperately needs. This satire on Louisiana politics is Paolini’s debut novel.

MARKED MAN AND OTHER SOCCER STORIES
By Hank Herman C’71.
Lincolnwood, Ill: NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, 2000. 96 pp., $5.95.

Chris is overjoyed when his soccer team makes it to the state championships. But when he and his teammates start hearing strange and frightening rumors about their opponents, they wish they hadn’t gotten so far. Soccer has always come easily to Abby—that is until her rival, Rebecca, turns Abby’s own teammates against her. Her confidence fading, Abby has trouble making the big plays and leading the team to victory. But Abby hatches a surprising plan to turn the tables on Rebecca and still unite the team. Drama, humor, mystery and action comprise the seven stories featured in this book for young soccer fans. And while they’re being entertained, readers will learn some valuable lessons in sportsmanship. Herman is the author of 12 books and a Westport, Connecticut, newspaper columnist who writes about kids, sports and life in the suburbs. He coaches kids’ soccer each fall.

THE NEW SUCCESS RULES FOR WOMEN:
10 Surefire Strategies For Reaching Your Career Goals

By Susan L. Abrams C/W’86.
Roseville, Calif.: Prima Publishing, 2000. 320 pp., $24.95.
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Wouldn’t you like to spend time with 45 of the top women in business to learn their secrets to success? What key attributes help them to succeed? What risks do they take? Have they encountered the glass ceiling? What tradeoffs have they made? Abrams, a visiting scholar at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, has interviewed CEOs, presidents and senior partners at well-known companies in a cross-section of industries and synthesized their experiences in this book. Abrams has served as a consultant at the international management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, an investment banker at Goldman Sachs & Co., and a senior executive at Chicago Children’s Museum.

TRANSSEXUALS: Life from Both Sides
By Lynn Hubschman CW’57 SW’64.
Diane Publishing, 1999. 277 pp., $20.00.

After 23 years working with patients seeking transsexual surgery, Hubschman, the former director of Social Work at Pennsylvania Hospital, has come to understand and appreciate the people who are in “this most central and difficult human condition.” To better educate the public, she has written this book, explaining in simple terms the history and definition of transsexualism, along with standards for surgery, and using patients’ first-person accounts. Hubschman is a social worker who has been in private practice for 30 years doing primarily marriage and family counseling.

BROADCASTING FREEDOM: Radio, War and the Politics of Race
By Barbara Dianne Savage, Faculty.
Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. 416 pp., $45.00 (cloth); $18.06 (paper).
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This book examines the World War II-era treatment of race as a national political issue. The author, an assistant professor of history, provides evidence that the campaigns for racial justice in the 1940s served as an essential precursor to the civil rights campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s. The book won the 1999 Hoover Book Award, which is presented by the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library to the best scholarly book published on any aspect of American history during 1914-1964, the years of President Hoover’s public service.

JUST SEX: Students Rewrite the Rules on Sex, Violence, Activism and Equality
Edited by Jodi Gold C’98 and Susan Villari, Staff.
Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000. 323 pp., $17.95.
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Influenced by three decades of feminism, men and women are coming to college with different ideas and expectations about sexual freedom and violence than did their parents. Since the early 1980s, a student movement has emerged from the
belief that sexual violence is neither inherent nor inevitable. This book chronicles the movement to end all forms of sexual violence and to mold a new sexual paradigm where explicitly consensual sex and sexual autonomy are the norm. Gold
and Villari have compiled the writings of leading student activists and young scholars. Gold, who was the student coordinator of the first North American Conference on Sexual Violence, is pursuing a career in child and adolescent psychiatry. Villari, the director of health education at Penn, has worked in the women’s health movement for 20 years and has helped organize student educators and activists since 1989. Both are founding members of Speakout: The North American Student Coalition Against Sexual Violence and consult with universities nationwide.


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