The tragic death of his daughter Susy became a crucial event of the final fourteen years of Mark Twain's life——as a parent, as an author, and as a public persona. I make this claim based on an analysis of recent theories of parental bereavement and "continuing bonds" with the dead put forth by researchers, such as Dennis Klass, Margaret S. Stroebe, Paul C. Rosenblatt, and Robert A. Neimeyer, who are providing the vanguard of contemporary opinion in grief theory. As Stroebe notes, "contemporary opinions tend to agree . . . that bonds [[with the dead]] can be continued without the detrimental effects that were originally claimed and that [[continued bonds with the dead]] play a role in . . . the 'resolution' of grief." As such, today's leading grief theorists focus on a constructivist model of bereavement, clearly eschewing much contained in the modernist theories of grief of the early and middle twentieth century (dominated by Freud), especially their tendency to label extended and grueling patterns of mourning as "pathological." In this essay I analyze Mark Twain's two elegies for Susy, "In Memoriam" (written 1897) and "Broken Idols" (written 1898), with the latest and most influential recent research on parental bereavement in mind. This essay also marks the first publication of the entire poem "Broken Idols."
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