August – The first of two installments of the 23,400 word Tom Sawyer, Detective first appeared in the Aug. issue of Harper’s Magazine. 21 illustrations were included by A.B. Frost. It would be included by Harper’s in book form, together with the 34,000 word Tom Sawyer Abroad in November, 1896. The latter had first appeared in book form in 1894 by Webster & Co., after being serialized in St. Nicholas.
Sometime during August, and probably before Susy’s death on Aug. 18, Sam, during one of his country tramps, encountered England’s most notable writer, Thomas Hardy. Rodney gives each man’s account of the meeting, Hardy’s being a recollection of 30 years later. First, Sam’s memory of the event:
I found myself stranded in the country and obliged to put up at a village inn. I gravitated to the smoking-room and there met a brother derelict, and after the time of day had been passed a desultory conversation sprang up between us. Soon literary topics came to the fore, and I began to attack England’s literary giant, Thomas Hardy. But the little man with the broken nose across the table did not seem somehow to concur as heartily as I might have expected. When the little man rose to go after paying his score, he gave me a look that can best be described as “dirty” and stalked out of the room with the hauteur of a Spanish grandee. Vaguely ill at ease, I asked the waiter the name of the gentleman. “Mr. Thomas Hardy, sir,”…
And Hardy’s very different and more detailed recollection:
You know I had a very interesting encounter many years ago….I was on a walking-tour with a friend, and we stopped for supper in a little inn where Isaak Walton is supposed to have spent the night and which he described in the Compleat Angler. While we were sitting before the blazing hearth awaiting the summons to supper, there entered a striking-looking man with a great mass of snow-white hair and a peculiar drawlish manner of speaking. We began chatting, and when it turned out that he was an American, I asked him some questions about the Mississippi River as only a week before I had finished re-reading Huckleberry Finn. I told the book’s creator — for it turned out to be Mark — that, after reading his extraordinarily vivid pages, I knew the Mississippi almost as well as the Thames. Mark recalled having read Under the Greenwood Tree aloud to his wife. He characterized as “altogether unfounded and untrue” the report of his disliking my work and professing never to have read it.
We found we had a number of friends in common, such as Browning, Dr. John Brown of Edinburgh, Andrew Lang, Thomas Huxley and Anthony Trollope. Mark spoke in a fascinating, even drawl that I felt I could have listened to him forever. I feel that Mark Twain did more than any other man to make plain people in England understand plain people in America. That alone was a big work, and he did it, by the way, without setting out to do it [200-1].
Note: Hardy was perhaps the first British authority to recognize Mark Twain’s literary place and purpose — see Howells’ letter of July 10, 1883, which quotes Hardy.
Richard Le Gallienne reviewed JA in Idler X p.112-4. Though much of the review is merely long quoted passages, Le Gallienne compared Twain’s historical approach to that of Carlyle’s French Revolution and added: “The man who has inaugurated a great epoch in the history of humour — and the whole of modern humour is the invention of Mark Twain — must have a great imagination, as he must also have a great heart. We have not waited for Joan of Arc to find these important gifts in Mark Twain, but certainly they are here once more, with even more than their ancient vitality” [Tenney 25].