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Kaplan, J. (1969). On Mark Twain: “Never Quite Sane in the Night”. Psychoanal. Rev., 56A(1):113-127.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Review, 56A(1):113-127

On Mark Twain: “Never Quite Sane in the Night”

Justin Kaplan

“It is one of the mysteries of our nature,” he reflected when nearly ten years had gone by, “that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live.”


In Guildford Clemens played billiards until he dropped with exhaustion. He gathered together the circumstances of [his daughter] Susy's death [at age twenty-four], tasted the pain and the shame of each, and used them in daily and nightly rituals of self-accusation. She had been staying with the Warners in Hartford, but each day she had visited the house next door. “She seems quite happy where she is,” Pond wrote at the beginning of July. He was in Hartford to attend the funeral of Harriet Beecher Stowe. “She says it seems very much like home to her, and she wished you would come back. The place is beautiful, but there is a terrible atmosphere of lone-someness there.” She spent her last two weeks back in her own house, walked the floor in pain and delirium, became blind, and died after being in a coma for two days. What Clemens desperately searched for was some sign that before she died she had him in her thoughts, spoke of him in pride or love. “I wonder if she left any little message for me,” he wrote to [his wife] Livy imploringly. “I was not deserving of it.” He wanted everything of her last days kept, even the agonizing pages she wrote in her delirium and with the light failing. “Mrs. Clemens, Mr. Zola, Mr.

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