NO TWAIN 'BLIGHT' REVEALED IN STUDY
Professor Ferguson Denies Humorist Was 'Thwarted' by Wife and Advisers
MANUSCRIPT IS ANALYZED
Article in Colophone Declares 'Huckleberry Finn's' Author Wrote as He Wished
Mark Twain was not "a thwarted Swift" or "a blighted Hemingway," according to Professor Delancey Ferguson of Western Reserve University, who has written the leading article for the new number of The colophon, issued today.
Twain was not censored and repressed by his wife and literary advisers, but on the contrary, Professor Ferguson declares, he was one of the freest authors who ever lived. He was a careful artist who wrote as he did because he felt like it.
Professor Ferguson bases his case on the large part of the original manuscript of Twain's masterpiece, "Huckleberry Finn," now in the Buffalo Public Library. it contains, he says, several layers of correction and more than 900 textual changes, but the changes were not made for prudish reasons.
"They are not," Professor Ferguson writes, "the excision of scathing passages which Mrs. Clemens or Howells would disapprove of, neither are they the dilution of grim realism to make it meat for babes. They are the work of a skilled craftsman removing the unessential, adding vividness to dialogue and description, and straightening out incongruities."
"Mild as Sunday school" was changed to "mild as goose-milk" in deference to the feelings of the churchly. Kings were said to "hang" instead of "wallow" round the harem. And "drunk" was changed to "tight."
Some speeches were struck out because they were not in character. Huck's original summing up of Mark Jane Wilks, for instance: "She was the best girl that ever was! And you could depend on her like the everlasting sun and the stars, every time." That would do for the Playboy of the Western World, Professor Ferguson remarks, but not for Huck.
The manuscript also reveals, he says, that the general plan of the book was altered little as it was written, but that Twain's invention did not always run smooth. Though some pages are unchanged, others contain as many as twenty-five textual changes.
Professor Ferguson says there is only one deletion in the book to be sincerely regretted - the Duke's denunciation of the King as an "unsatisfiable, tunnel-bellied old sewer."
Other articles in the quarterly include "The Renegade Bibliophile," by Barrows Mussey; "Recollections of a Private Printer," by George Parker Winship; "The 'Trial Books' of Dante Gabriel Rossetti," by Janet Camp Trowell, and "The Romance of Scholarship: Tracking Melville in the South Seas," by Charles Roberts Anderson.
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