Journal of Undergraduate Research


Mark Twain, A Horse's Tale, templates, myths, highest moralism






Most of Mark Twain’s novels, full of sharp wit and relevant social commentary, suggest his strong ability to read people and create characters that endure through decades, while still concealing his own opinion on society beneath layers of sardonic criticism or feigned admiration. But A Horse’s Tale—an odd little novel about an orphan girl, her favorite horse named Soldier Boy (a gift from Buffalo Bill), and the bloody murder of both at the horns of a tortured bull—does not fit Twain’s typical formula. At first glance, this novel is full of earnest superlatives rendered trite, an uneven narrative arc, and little character development; it is left out of anthologies, is the subject of no scholarship, and has remained out of print and obscured for years. When Dr. Christianson first found the novel, neither of us knew if we would find anything worthwhile within its pages. But as it turns out, it is thanks to the novel’s “faults” that I, over 100 years after its publication, had the opportunity to be the very first to write critically about the novel.