Confrontation A Formidable Adversary False Exoneration The Funniest Joke in the World Melting Marble with Ice Books Digital Products Journals. About the Book The last phase of Mark Twain's life is sadly familiar: Crippled by losses and tragedies, America's greatest humorist sank into a deep and bitter depression. It is a chapter full of Victorian melodrama. At times, it reads like a steamy romance novel; at other times, like a textbook on power by Machiavelli. For all its intrigue and melodrama, this is a remarkably powerful and moving study.
The research is thorough, the personalities colorful. Barney Unknown "Lystra gives her readers a sense of being participants in Twain's relationships with these interesting people, so sensitive is her reconstruction of their lives. Her book is an extraordinary achievement. Binding has minimal wear.
The majority of pages are undamaged with minimal creasing or tearing, minimal pencil underlining of text, no highlighting of text, no writing in margins. No missing pages. See all condition definitions - opens in a new window or tab. About this product.
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Lystra assumes the role of a prosecutor as she connects the dots of many sometimes circumstantial pieces of evidence and presents damning arguments to convict Lyon of robbing Jean of three years away from her father. While Jean was in the sanitarium and a string of other homes, Lyon censored and controlled communications with her father, consulted with her doctors, and controlled her meager allowance.
Lystra does not spare the horse-whip in describing Isabel Lyon: she is "the Janus-headed mediator among daughter, physician, and father" p. These accusations stand in sharp contrast to Hill who wrote of Lyon, "Her mistake was in not questioning whether Clemens' loyalty to her was as compelling and powerful as her loyalty to him" Hill, p.
Ralph Ashcroft entered Twain's entourage in when he served as a traveling companion to Oxford, England. Ashcroft ingratiated himself as an unpaid advisor and subsequently established himself as an officer of the Mark Twain Company. He later married Lyon, at her request, when it appeared that her position in the family was in peril due to concerns of Twain's daughter Clara over the way the family fortune, along with her father, was being manipulated.
Regarding Ashcroft, Lystra writes that he was guilty of "snake-oil salesmanship of the highest order" p. Hill, on the other hand, characterized Ashcroft as "the son of an English Congregational minister" Hill, p. Lystra gives careful scrutiny to the rise and fall of Lyon and Ashcroft within the Clemens household, and the jousting for favored position with biographer Paine whose unanswered advantage was his skill at playing billiards with the boss. The tangled web of legal documents, disputed signatures, questionable finances, and gifts of real estate is not an easy story to relate and Lystra does it competently.
The eventual firing of Lyon and the triumphant return of Jean Clemens to the family home are a fitting climax to Lystra's story. In the aftermath of Lyon's firing, Lystra chronicles Ashcroft's manipulation of the New York Times to cause embarrassment to Twain and Clara Clemens and how these actions impacted Twain's composition of the Ashcroft-Lyon manuscript.
Lystra's version of what actually happened differs from Hamlin Hill's on at least six key points:.
Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain's Final Years
Providing a theory of how Twain fell so completely under the Lyon and Ashcroft spell, Lystra explains "learned helpless syndrome" p. In concluding her book, Lystra discusses how Lyon attempted to revise her original diaries decades later with a possible intent of publishing them. Lyon made revisions to original entries in inks that are easily distinguished from the original.
Lyon "rewrote" the original diary for January 3 - June 22, , silently incorporating the changes. On two occasions Lystra has found that Lyon made revisions to strengthen the impression of Jean Clemens as a homicidal killer. This version of the diary is now owned by the University of Texas. In fairness to Hamlin Hill, Lystra acknowledges this version was not available to him in
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