Scholars have been guilty of assuming that Mark Twain was fully self-conscious in his literary intentions. The liabilities entailed by this assumption are manifest in Henry B. Wonham's recent Mark Twain and the Art of the Tall Tale. A survey of the evidence bearing on this pivotal question reveals that Mark Twain was an artist of decidedly inchoate intentions, and that he was perfectly willing to admit it. Thus the burden of proof in this matter rests most heavily on those who want to characterize Mark Twain as a highly self-conscious writer.
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