Monday, May 12, 2003
Mark Twains Forgotten Play: The Westport Connection
TodayҒs New York Times makes prominent mention of a long forgotten Mark Twain play that is causing a stir in the literary and arts world thanks to former Westporter Shelley Fisher Fishkin.
The 1967 Staples grad and 2002 recipient of a lifetime achievement award from Westports Arts Advisory Council unearthed the play, ғIs He Dead?, during her research for a book about Twain and race at the University of California at Berkeley.
Fishkin, who lauded her Westport teachers in her remarks at last yearԒs awards ceremony, is a noted Twain scholar and currently a professor of American studies and English at the University of Texas at Austin.
The Times quoted her as saying that although Twain was not especially noted for his skills as a dramatist, she was surprised to find the play well thought out, well structured and, most important, funny. The newspaper said a Broadway producer has already optioned it.
Fishkin, a graduate of Yale, regularly returns to Westport to visit family members. She and her husband are both on the faculty at the University of Texas.
Fishkin is series editor of the Oxford Mark TwainӔ and among her works is Was Huck Black?: Mark Twain and African-American Voices,Ӕ a controversial 1992 book that argued that a 10-year-old black child played a modeling role for Twain’s Huck Finn.