Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain's Final Years

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University of California Press, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 342 pages
6 Reviews
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 also wrong. This book recovers Twain's final years as they really were--lived in the shadow of deception and prejudice, but also in the light of the author's unflagging energy and enthusiasm.
Dangerous Intimacy relates the story of how, shortly after his wife's death in 1904, Twain basked in the attentions of Isabel Lyon, his flirtatious--and calculating--secretary. Lyon desperately wanted to marry her boss, who was almost thirty years her senior. She managed to exile Twain's youngest daughter, Jean, who had epilepsy. With the help of Twain's assistant, Ralph Ashcroft, who fraudulently acquired power of attorney over the author's finances, Lyon nearly succeeded in assuming complete control over Twain's life and estate. Fortunately, Twain recognized the plot being woven around him just in time. So rife with twists and turns as to defy belief, the story nonetheless comes to undeniable, vibrant life in the letters and diaries of those who witnessed it firsthand: Katy the housekeeper, Jean, Lyon, and others whose own distinctive, perceptive, often amusing voices take us straight into the heart of the Clemens household.
Just as Twain extricated himself from the lies, prejudice, and self-delusion that almost turned him into an American Lear, so Karen Lystra liberates the author's last decade from a century of popular misunderstanding. In this gripping book we at last see how, late in life, this American icon discovered a deep kinship with his youngest child and continued to explore the precarious balance of love and pain that is one of the trademarks of his work.
  

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Review: Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain's Final Years

User Review  - Ann - Goodreads

This book focuses on the last years of Mark Twain's life, and more precisely the scandal that exploded when he fired his secretary and business manager with allegations of fraud. The famous author had ... Read full review

Review: Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain's Final Years

User Review  - Bernadette - Goodreads

I had no preconceptions about Mark Twain's final years, but after reading this book I feel like I now know the real story. Exceedingly well researched, the book details the manipulative behavior of ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Mark Twainand Sams Women
1
Heartbreak
20
Rearranging the Household
45
Looking for Love
59
A Pact with the Devil
80
Life in the Sanitarium
88
Someone to Love Him and Per Him
100
A Viper to Her Bosom
110
Unraveling
179
The Exile Rerurns
187
Confronration
199
A Formidable Adversary
207
False Exoneration
215
The Funniest Joke in the World
226
Melting Marble with Ice
242
The End of My Autobiography
251

Innocence at Home
123
Stormfield
134
An American Lear
146
Illusions of Love
159
How Little One May Tell
271
NOTES
283
INDEX
333
Copyright

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References to this book

Mark Twain: A Life
Ron Powers
Limited preview - 2005
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About the author (2004)

Karen Lystra is Professor of American Studies at California State University at Fullerton. She is the author of Searching the Heart: Women, Men, and Romantic Love in Nineteenth-Century America (1989).

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