For a couple of decades now Mark Twain (1835-1910) has been on trial for harboring anti-Semitic tendencies. From the late 1850’s on to the year of his death, Mark Twain (1835-1910) mentioned Jews dozens of times in notebook entries and autobiographical recollections; in newspaper articles and personal letters; in sketches and essays, culminating in the publication of “Concerning the Jews,” his major statement about anti-Semitism in 1899 . In his own day, some Jewish readers saw it as a well-intentioned essay, but diminished by misinformation about Jewish history and character; others read it as a welcome sympathetic analysis of anti-Semitism and its amelioration. In ensuing generations, however, some scholars read the same essay as indicating that Twain was indeed not guiltless of anti-Semitism. This study tries to set the record straight by considering nearly every mention of “Jew” in Mark Twain’s canon , with analyses by the author and other commentators. Included in the volume is a facsimile of Twain’s essay Concerning the Jews, published in New Harper’s Monthly Magazine, in September of 1899.
Dan Vogel served as Professor of English at Yeshiva University for 25 years and as Dean of Stern College for Women for ten of them. He is the author of many articles on general American and Jewish-American Literature and two books, The Three Masks of American Tragedy and Emma Lazarus. Upon aliyah in 1973, he headed the English department at Michlalah-Jerusalem College until retirement in 1998. He now fulfills his interest in Biblical literature by writing articles and serving as voluntary associate editor of Jewish Bible Quarterly.
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