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Mark Twain in China$
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Selina Lai-Henderson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780804789646

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804789646.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 19 October 2021

Sam Clemens the Missourian

Sam Clemens the Missourian

Early Acquaintances with “Chinamen”

(p.11) Chapter 1 Sam Clemens the Missourian
Mark Twain in China

Selina Lai-Henderson

Stanford University Press

This chapter begins with Clemens’s early adventures in the American West in the 1860s. What Clemens witnessed in the frontier would contradict the founding ideals that he once learned as a child in Missouri. The everyday scenario of the American police and Irish oppression of the Chinese in the streets of San Francisco compelled him to reflect upon a country that was founded on democratic ideals but was also ironically plagued by racism. In 1870, Twain married and settled down with Olivia Langdon in New York. His father-in-law, Jervis Langdon, played an important role as an abolitionist in influencing Twain’s racial attitude toward slavery. Around the same time, a figure that had an influence on Twain regarding the use of Chinese protagonists in his work was Bret Harte. The two collaborated on the play, “Ah Sin,” which unfortunately brought the end of their friendship.

Keywords:   American West, Missouri, frontier, racism, Olivia Langdon, Jervis Langdon, Bret Harte, Ah Sin, Sam Clemens, Chinese

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