by Barbara Schmidt

A History of and Guide to

Gabriel Wells Definitive Edition
Volume 19: Tom Sawyer Abroad / Tom Sawyer Detective and Other Stories, Etc., Etc.


Volume 19 of the Gabriel Wells Definitive Edition is Tom Sawyer Abroad / Tom Sawyer Detective and Other Stories, Etc., Etc. The Introduction was written by Albert Bigelow Paine.


IN this volume of Mark Twain's are gathered tales and sketches covering a period of no less than twenty-five years. "The Legend of Sagenfeld" was written during his early days on the Buffalo Express, as far back as 1870, and was first published in that newspaper. Tom Sawyer, Detective, was written in Paris, during the winter of 1894-95, after Mark Twain's business failure and when he was contemplating his lecture tour around the world. The other items were scattered through the years between.

It is an entertaining volume, regardless of its lack of order. Probably its chief features are the two longer tales, "Tom Sawyer Abroad" and "Tom Sawyer, Detective." Ever since the success of Huck Finn, Clemens had been tempted to do more with his favorite characters and environment, particularly as he was being urged by Mrs. Mary Mapes Dodge, of St. Nicholas, to do something for that magazine. He began the purely fanciful tale of "Tom Sawyer Abroad" during the summer of 1892, in Germany, and finished it later in the year. It appeared serially in St. Nicholas the following winter. It would seem to have been an easy story for him to write, and, though by no means as great literature as the earlier adventures of Tom, Huck, and Nigger Jim, it proved a popular St. Nicholas feature.

In Tom Sawyer, Detective, Mark Twain returned more nearly to the earlier form. It was founded, he tells us, on the report of "an old-time Swedish criminal trial, an episode* which he transferred to the Mississippi River, introducing his old characters. He wrote the story at a few sittings, and it was issued as new matter for the present volume, first published in 1896. It was the last of the Tom and Huck stories which Mark Twain completed, though he nearly always had one in contemplation. He had begun a number of such tales, but for one reason or another put them aside.

From the truly literary standpoint, there can hardly be a doubt that the story, or sermon, "The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut" is the most important feature of this collection. It was first given as a paper before the Monday Evening Club at Mark Twain's home, during the winter of 1875-76. The Monday Evening Club was an association of the best minds in Hartford. Its members met at one another's houses to read papers and discuss them-papers dealing with unusual subjects in unusual and sometimes startling ways. This little fictional sermon made a deep impression on those who heard Mark Twain read it. One of the ministerial members offered his pulpit for the next Sunday, if the author would deliver it to his congregation. It is indeed a realistic piece of work, in a sense autobiographical, for it was a setting down of those self-chidings which were part of Mark Twain's daily life. So alive is it that it is difficult in places not to believe in the reality of the tale, though the allegory is always present. William Dean Howells welcomed it for the Atlantic, regarding it as one of Clemens's most important contributions. It was published in June, 1876, and was eminently successful at the time. Howells referred to it repeatedly in his letters, and finally got Clemens to consent to let Osgood combine it with another Atlantic favorite, "A True Story," in dainty booklet form. The reader who is not already familiar with the "Carnival of Crime" should turn to it forthwith, and he will find his profit in reading it not only once, but many times.


* Perhaps the same episode that was used by the Danish author, Sten Stensen Blicher, for his novel The Parson of Veilby. Mark Twain never saw or heard of Blicher's novel until after the publication of Tom Sawyer, Detective, when he was charged with plagiarism.


Illustration List for Volume 19

The Gabriel Wells Definitive Edition of Tom Sawyer Abroad / Tom Sawyer Detective and Other Stories, Etc., Etc. features the same frontispiece etched by William Harry Warren Bicknell based on a portrait by Spiridon in 1898 that was used in the 1899 uniform edition from American Publishing Company. Illustrations by Daniel Carter Beard and Arthur Burdett Frost were also reused from the previous editions.

Full Text Online Availability Via Archive.Org
Volume 19



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