Published November 29, 2016
Victor Doyno, longtime UB faculty member and one of the country’s foremost Mark Twain scholars, died Nov. 16 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Doyno joined the UB English department in 1969 after earning a master’s degree from Harvard and a doctorate from Indiana University.
His scholarly work focused on Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” He was the author of three books, including “Writing ‘Huck Finn’: Mark Twain’s Creative Process” (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991) and “Mark Twain: Selected Writings of an American Skeptic” (1993), plus numerous journal articles and essays.
He also published a CD-ROM — The Complete Buffalo Manuscript Edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Teaching and Research Digital Edition — and wrote introductions to “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven” and “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyberg,” both works by Twain republished by Prometheus Books in 2002.
Doyno served as a member of the board of directors of the Mark Twain Center at Quarry Farm in Elmira, where Twain spent many of his summers, and also was president of the Mark Twain Circle, an organization of “Twainiacs” from throughout the United States.
Besides Twain, his areas of specialization, research and teaching included medieval and renaissance English literature, the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, pedagogy and evaluation, and the study of manuscripts and the creative process.
A recipient of a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1994, he retired from UB in 2004.
James Holstun, associate professor of English, recalls that running into Doyno in the hallways at UB “was always a delight, for he effortlessly combined delight and instruction — I laughed and learned every time we met.”
“Vic was a distinguished Twain scholar, but he was also a learned medievalist who loved Chaucer and frequently taught his works,” Holstun says. “When a Chaucerian dies, these words about the Clerk from the ‘General Prologue’ to ‘The Canterbury Tales’ are those you frequently hear, but Vic’s memory makes them live: ‘Sownynge in moral vertu was his speche, / And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.’”
A memorial service is planned for early in 2017.