(((Epub))) ✐ Letters from the Earth ↯ PDF eBook or Kindle ePUB free
Do any of us die having said everything we wanted to say Or having said everything that needed to be said Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, certainly did not When he died in 1910 he left behind a substantial cache of notebooks, letters, and unfinished manuscripts, much of which turned out to be a treasure trove of brilliant satirical and existential prose Herein lies the problem How do you publish what amounts to be three pages of notes here, eighteen pages of an incomplete essay there, twenty six pages of an unfinished story over there, in a coherent, logical, related format You can t What you do is what Bernard DeVoto has done you combine a selection of the best bits, annotate it with explanatory footnotes, and send it out into the world If science exterminates a disease which has been working for God, it is God that gets the credit, and all the pulpits break into grateful advertising raptures and call attention to how good he is Yes, HE has done it Perhaps he has waited a thousand years before doing it That is nothing the pulpit says he was thinking about it the whole time When exasperated men rise up and sweep away an age long tyranny and set a nation free, the first thing the delighted pulpit does is to advertise it as God s work, and invite people to get down on their knees and pour out their thanks to him for it I m impressed with Twain than ever before His satire was as sharp as any written today, and it s no big surprise that his publishers fought hard to keep so much of this out of the public eye It wasn t until decades after his passing that Letters from the Earth saw the light of day If God had had a motto, it would have read, Let no innocent person escape You remember what he did in the time of the flood There were multitudes and multitudes of tiny little children, and he knew they had never done him any harm but their relations had, and that was enough for him he saw the wild terror in their eyes, he saw that agony of appeal in the mothers faces which would have touched any heart but his, but he was after the guiltless particularly, and he drowned those poor little chaps Not all of Letters is so biblically condescending If blasphemy isn t your thing, there s an irreverent slight on Britain s Prince Albert Or how about a short story on the fallacious faculties of felines Whatever your particular taste, there is surely something here that you can engage with, that will broaden your perspective and, just maybe, challenge your preconceptions about one of America s most beloved writers PERSONAL NOTE This being my 100th review on GoodReads, I looked up some interesting and kinda sad statistics 21 21% of my reviews have 0 views My most popular review is the short blurb I wrote about Antoine de Saint Exup ry s The Little Prince My least popular review according to whatever algorithm GoodReads employs is on The Man of Bronze by Kenneth Robeson.
(((Epub))) ⇰ Letters from the Earth ⇨ Letters From The Earth Is One Of Mark Twain S Posthumously Published Works The Essays Were Written During A Difficult Time In Twain S Life He Was Deep In Debt And Had Lost His Wife And One Of His Daughters The Book Consists Of A Series Of Short Stories, Many Of Which Deal With God And Christianity Twain Penned A Series Of Letters From The Point Of View Of A Dejected Angel On Earth This Title Story Consists Of Letters Written By The Archangel Satan To Archangels, Gabriel And Michael, About His Observations On The Curious Proceedings Of Earthly Life And The Nature Of Man S Religions By Analyzing The Idea Of Heaven And God That Is Widely Accepted By Those Who Believe In Both, Twain Is Able To Take The Silliness That Is Present And Study It With The Common Sense That Is Absent Not So Much An Attack As Much As A Cold Dissection Other Short Stories In The Book Include A Bedtime Story About A Family Of Cats Twain Wrote For His Daughters, And An Essay Explaining Why An Anaconda Is Morally Superior To Man Twain S Writings In Letters From The Earth Find Him At Perhaps His Most Quizzical And Questioning State Ever Cynics bow down before the idol of your seething ire Mark Twain s critique of the Earth s entanglement with religion as told by an oft banished bad boy of heaven we all know but not so well as we thought singes eyelashes at times A series of letters written by Satan himself during a term of expulsion from heaven depict the sad hilarity of mankind s relationship with it s creator Satan s outside perspective yields Twain an opportunity to express his deep criticism of god fearing culture It begins, This is a strange place, an extraordianry place, and interesting There is nothing resembling it at home The people are all insane, the other animals are all insane, the earth is insane, Nature itself is insane At the time of his writing this manuscript he purportedly proclaimed in a letter to a friend, This book will never be publishedin fact, it couln t be, because it would be a felony The theme of repression is expressed in Satan s own banishment and Twain s choice of perspective being eventual pure evil along with his belief the manuscript would never see the light of day push him farther in his advance on common decency than we mostly jr high Twain excursioners are used to Moralists will object, but if, like me, you like to see the gloves come off, this antiquated step over the line will take you ten rounds at least Also in this volume, such things as a dressing down of James Fenni Cooper s prose style and a rousing Unfinished Burlesque of Books on Etiquette , which explains how a gentleman should conduct himself when rescuing a maiden in a fire This is the backwater of Twain s writing, and its swampy atmosphere can bog you down in places, but the strange creations you find in this volume show dimensions of the writer that were never allowed to become apparent in his lifetime. Okay after reading this I so wish I could have sat down with this man and that I could have shared a drink and a chat with him He was so witty and clever Hilarious He must have been something else The first time the Deity came down to earth, he brought life and death when he came the second time, he brought hell Mark Twain s Letters from the Earth, which were written under the influence of various blows fate dealt him, like the deaths of his 24 year old daughter Suzy from spinal meningitis in 1896 and of his wife Olivia in1904, never saw publication during their author s lifetime, probably because they were considered as heavy stuff even with regard to what could be expected of a satirist like Mark Twain.They are a collection of letters written by the Archangel Satan, who is once again banished from the presence of the Almighty due to certain irreverent remarks on Creation and who, this time, ended up on the planet Earth To while away his time and to amuse the other Archangels, Satan writes them a series of letters in which he comments on Man as such and on the Christian religion in particular Satan s first letter is comparatively harmless and amusing enough since it deals with the Afterlife as it is pictured by Christians, and here Satan states that in Afterlife Man seems to engage in all sorts of activities he shuns or grudgingly consents to during his time on Earth whereas he will abstain in his Heaven from whatever form of pleasure he has known here in this world, such as sexual intercourse.The following letters, however, become and iconoclastic and bitter when the author uses the Bible and the tenets of religion in order to reduce the idea of a loving and caring God to absurdity Partly, the letters employ a simplistic materialism, e.g when pointing out the absurdities of the story of Noah and the Ark, but they go deeper than that, e.g when the question of illness and disease is raisedThe human being is a machine An automatic machine It is composed of thousands of complex and delicate mechanisms, which perform their functions harmoniously and perfectly, in accordance with laws devised for their governance, and over which the man himself has no authority, no mastership, no control For each one of these thousands of mechanisms the Creator has planned an enemy, whose office is to harass it, pester it, persecute it, damage it, afflict it with pains, and miseries, and ultimate destruction Not one has been overlooked From cradle to grave these enemies are always at work they know no rest, night or day They are an army an organized army a besieging army an assaulting army an army that is alert, watchful, eager, merciless an army that never relents, never grants a truce It moves by squad, by company, by battalion, by regiment, by brigade, by division, by army corps upon occasion it masses its parts and moves upon mankind with its whole strength It is the Creator s Grand Army, and he is the Commander in Chief Along its battlefront its grisly banners wave their legends in the face of the sun Disaster, Disease, and the rest Disease That is the main force, the diligent force, the devastating force It attacks the infant the moment it is born it furnishes it one malady after another croup, measles, mumps, bowel troubles, teething pains, scarlet fever, and other childhood specialties It chases the child into youth and furnishes it some specialties for that time of life It chases the youth into maturity, maturity into age, age into the grave With these facts before you will you now try to guess man s chiefest pet name for this ferocious Commander in Chief I will save you the trouble but you must not laugh It is Our Father in Heaven It is not too difficult to detect the author s chagrin at the loss of his daughter Suzy through an insidious and senseless disease behind these lines, and yet the deeper question of why a Deity allows His creation to suffer cannot be dismissed Not even the usual counter argument of pointing out Man s liberty of action works here since diseases are usually not brought about by human actions but they simply happen.The letters also deal with certain gory passages from the Old Testament, as, for instance, God s cruel and inhumane treatment of the Midianites which is probably due to the fact that when the Israelites developed monotheism, it was their god of war that by and by replaced all their other deities but they also criticize the conception of God in the New Testament by pointing out that Jesus not only brought redemption and forgiveness but also the notion of Hell, which is true just remember Jesus s frequent announcement of wailing and gnashing of teeth for those who do not believe in him and follow his teachings In a way, this is really hard in that believing in something is not an act of volition what if I would like to believe but simply can t In this context, however, we ought not to forget that the New Testament was not divinely inspired the way the Qur an claims to be but that it was written by human beings who had their failings and their interests just consider the beginning of the Gospel according to LukeSince many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed Theophilus was probably a Roman senator or something similar, and Luke seems to have felt it necessary doubtless with a view to converting this important person to write down the life, death and resurrection of Jesus after examining the data available to him Maybe this explains why Jesus in the Gospels threatens unbelievers with the prospect of Hell over and over again In the Letters from the Earth, however, a cynical explanation is given for the invention of HellLife was not a valuable gift, but death was Life was a fever dream made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain, a dream that was a nightmare confusion of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies, exultations, happinesses, interspersed with long drawn miseries, griefs, perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats, humiliations, and despairs the heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity but death was sweet, death was gentle, death was kind death healed the bruised spirit and the broken heart, and gave them rest and forgetfulness death was man s best friend when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free In time, the Deity perceived that death was a mistake a mistake, in that it was insufficient insufficient, for the reason that while it was an admirable agent for the inflicting of misery upon the survivor, it allowed the dead person himself to escape from all further persecution in the blessed refuge of the grave This was not satisfactory A way must be conceived to pursue the dead beyond the tomb One might ask oneself the question Who but the clergy would have any advantage from the notion of Hell As one can see, the Letters from the Earth is quite a serious criticism of Christian religion, not only of contemporary Christians morals but also of their beliefs but its deeper criticism only works if you fail to consider the historicity of the Bible, i.e that it is, like all other religious tradition, not a word by word inspiration coming from the Deity Himself but a man made interpretation of man held values and tenets Some of the basic assumptions made by the author need not even be shared, as, for example, the Letter s notion that Man, being a divine creation, is not directly responsible for the way he acts since his nature was preordained by God For all their shortcomings, though, the Letters offer a lot of food for thought, as hereWe know what the offense was, without looking that is to say, we know it was a trifle some small thing that no one but a god would attach any importance to Now that bit has not lost one tittle of topicality for are there not still enough fervent believers in all sorts of religions running through life and claiming that God, the highest Being imaginable, can seriously be vexed by a book, a caricature, a sentence or anything else deriving from puny Man Hmph. I could write a long review of this amazing and shocking book Mark like I ve never seen him before the Mark I always wanted to hear from and did not find in his stories of mischievous childhoods in the Mississippi But i won t write that long review, instead, i will sub it up in the following sentence Man is a mistake The human race, basically, is the most horrible species that ever dwelled this earth We kill, torture, pass judgment, discriminate, and do the worst things possible with the excuse that we are superior, which is obviously a very wrong statement But whose fault is it that we re so horrible is it our fault, or that of our Creator Our Father in heaven, who hasn t spared us all the pains possible, that even an erring human father would not want his children to go through Are we God s mistake or merely his toy Twain will tell you all about it, through the narration of Satan, Eve, and many others including himself. This book is a varied collection of Mark Twain s later writings, from a period traditionally overlooked by American students but intensely scrutinized in Europe The titular Letters from the Earth series include wry and mildly heretical musings on Biblical lore, Christian cosmology, and human nature in general These were indeed the basis for a rather creepy children s Claymation TV show in the 80s called The Adventures of Mark Twain, the sort of thing that nowadays would get program directors drawn and quartered in a megachurch parking lot. In the last year I ve taken great care in crafting my reading goals towards something that will satisfy my need to be a thoroughly educated guy I ve been an avid reader since my early teens, and as a byproduct I ve gained a relatively good grasp of many key books However, lately the gaps in my education have really become a bother It is with that said, that I put forward Mark Twain as exhibit A Letters from the Earth is my first substantial introduction to him I think I read Tom Sawyer when I was really young, but I mention it mostly as a limp attempt to save face And wouldn t yo know it, instead of obviously starting there, I begin with a collection of unfinished stories, sketchy essays and other miscellaneous material that was published posthumously But maybe starting this way is a good thing This work represents Twain at his most mature and also maybe his most honest I couldn t help but think while I was reading it, that this may be the best way to get to know him as a thinker before I get to know him as author In the primary set of letters that share the book s title, Twain meticulously eviscerates the logical underpinnings of Christianity While reading it, I found it difficult to ascertain how far Twain s anger goes He saves most of his wrath for humanity, but the ultimate nature of God doesn t get away unscathed either Near the beginning, his portrait of God during creation as witnessed by the three angels is kind of funny but not without a hint of reverence for divinity However his distinction between Biblical law and the law of God offers little hope for a universally just creator Man s nature, if it can be traced to a divine origin ultimately does a disservice to both parties if the two are mirrors of each other Then again, maybe Twain is simply illustrating that when it comes to this subject, humanity simply has to give up trying to codify the unknowable This to me is somewhat confirmed by the tone of Satan s curiosity It s like he s saying get a load of these dumbasses when he describes biblical theology as a backwards set of moral rules that uniformly contradict human nature Man is wired to enjoy sex, yet the Bible says we are to deny its gravitational pull on us Heaven is a Christian s ultimate goal, yet it seems devoid of any intellectual value whatsoever Heaven in Twain s estimation is a world where people sing and play harps in what amounts to some celestial blast of idiotic white noise I don t think the letters should be seen as a tract against humanity s natural inclination towards the spiritual, nor do I sense that it s ultimately saying the most reasonable path is all out rejection of God No, this is a renunciation of an institution for the most part Perhaps the most scandalous part of it all is the particular angel Twain chooses to take the potshots Strangely, the Satan here doesn t refer to the fact that he is basically Earth s cosmic villain This is a Satan that is simply reporting back to his buddies he is stripped from his dark side in the same way Twain is stripping God from the Christian framework The God that remains after this split is still problematic, but also honest The rest of this collection is mostly taken from the last 20 or so years of Twain s life The Papers of the Adam Family offer excerpts from the diaries of the first family on earth, the most interesting of which are Eve s entries Her portrait of Adam as the humble first scientist and her notes on a crumbling civilization in the years before the flood were some of my favorite moments in the entire book I also enjoyed Letters To the Earth, where heaven issues an itemized receipt of answered prayers to a miserly coal baron Cooper s Prose Style is a hilarious but maybe mean spirited attack on James Feni Cooper s literary crimes The Damned Human Race takes on the notion that we are the pinnacle of evolutionary development, and demolishes the idea that our sense of morality makes us better than animals Finally, the unfinished novella The Great Dark is something altogether different from everything that comes before and it s a real shame that it s basically a rough draft that was ultimately abandoned When it s really working at first, you definitely gather an H.G Wells vibe in this story about the veiled nature of ultimate reality.So who is this Twain I ve finally taken the time to meet I hesitate to make a broad assessment because I have not read one sentence from any of his biographies, nor do I plan to sit down with the newly published Autobiography until I ve read of his material Let s just say that he ultimately comes across as bitter in this instance You sense he is very frustrated with how inconsiderate, hypocritical and vile people are to one another, and how our primary religious structures seem to only amplify these traits This is not a book for someone that is offended easily, because his critiques are venomous in certain passages, and I must admit I was mildly surprised at how far he was willing to take his arguments Maybe this says about my preconceptions of Mark Twain going in, and perhaps as I read I will decipher a better understanding of his overall outlook Quotes It is most difficult to to understand the disposition of the Bible God, it is such a confusion of contradictions of watery instabilities and iron firmnesses of goody goody abstract morals made out of words, and concreted hell born ones made out of acts of fleeting kindnesses repented of in permanent malignities Letters From the Earth Letter VIThe Biblical law says Thou shalt not Kill The law of God planted in the heart of man at his birth says Though shalt Kill Letters From the Earth Letter X Susy Papa, I should think you would take pupils No, I have no desire for riches Honest poverty and a conscience torpid through virtuous inaction are to me than corner lots and praise A Cat Tale No work of art can be intelligently and enjoyably contemplated unless you know about tone and feeling unless you know all about tone and feeling, and can tell at a glance which is the tone and which is the feeling From an English Notebook Old Saint Paul s Reason brings the courage to take a fresh look at myths and stories in the Bible that have been used as justification for mankind actions for centuries With a fresh view and a sharp mind, M.Twain provoked me bitter smile after bitter smile while reading Satan s letters But a first step to break the spell has been taken, so hopefully there is no coming back to dogma and superstition afterwards.the letters can be read here