Tarkington really could present himself as something of an authority on Twain. Not only are the two writers considered seminal American authors of literary portraits of boyhood, they shared a great deal more. For a few years, as one man’s health declined and the other man’s marriage declined, they ran in the same circles… so to speak.
What role Tarkington played in the ongoing business of PEN is unclear. James Woodress, Tarkington’s biographer, makes not a mention of Tarkington’s involvement in PEN. Given that Tarkington was not residing in New York at the time, and that events in Indianapolis would soon wholly occupy his attention, I imagine that his direct involvement quickly tapered off.
More or less following in the tradition of Tarkington’s Juvenile Fiction oeuvre, The Flirt is kind of a natural sequel to Seventeen… except that it predated both Seventeen and Penrod! Published in 1913 after first being serialized in The Saturday Evening Post, the novel does not work nearly as well as its antecedents.