By Clark Griffith
Through a detailed examining of the fictions–short and lengthy, early and late–Griffith contends that Mark Twain's energy lay now not in comedy or in satire or (as the nineteenth century understood the time period) even within the perform of humor. fairly his genius lay within the shaggy dog story, particularly the "sick joke." For all his finesse and seeming type, Twain tells a similar comic story, with its unmarried solid of doomed and damned characters, its unmarried dead-end end, again and again endlessly.
As he tried to realize the comedian answer and comically transfigured characters he yearned for, Twain eternally performed, for Griffith, the position of the Achilles of Zeno's Paradox. just like the tortoise that Achilles can't overtake in Zeno's story, the richness of comedian existence ceaselessly remained outdoor Twain's grasp.
The final 3rd of Griffith's research attracts parallels among Mark Twain and Herman Melville. even if the 2 authors by no means met and appear to not have learn every one other's works, they worked lower than the feel of what, in Moby-Dick, Ishmael calls "a immense functional shaggy dog story . . . at nobody's cost yet [one's] own." The laughter occasioned via this cosmic conspiracy shapes the profession of Huckleberry Finn totally up to it does Ishmael's voyage. Out of the laughter are generated the respective obsessions of Captain Ahab and Bartleby, of Pudd'nhead Wilson and Hadleyburg. diminished ultimately to a dry mock, the laughter is the existing tone of either Billy Budd and The Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts.
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Extra resources for Achilles and the Tortoise: Mark Twain's Fictions
Achilles and the Tortoise: Mark Twain's Fictions by Clark Griffith