Mark Twain is one of my favorite American authors and I was surprised upon reading this book that I had not heard of it before, even though I had read the classics by him, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and I loved those. Letters from the Earth is a short work, that basically takes religion and the hypocrisy of society to task.
The story is told from Satan’s point of view upon visiting earth. He is writing back to the other angels in heaven and reporting on what he sees on earth, how the humans behave and their beliefs. He does not hold any punches and still manages to be funny. It has many memorable lines and insights.
The commentary by Satan is very harsh and seems contrary to Twains, more humorous writings, but according to Wikipedia:
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.
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One of the many quotes that I marked was:
“Adam and Eve entered the world naked and unashamed - naked and pure-minded; and no descendant of theirs has ever entered otherwise, All have entered naked, unashamed, and clean in mind. The have entered it modet. They had to acquire immodesty and the soiled mind; there was no other way to get it. A Christian mother’s first duty is to soil her child’s mind, and she does not neglect it. her lad grows up to be a missionary, and goes to the innocent savage and to the civilized Japanese, and soils their minds. Whereupon they adopt immodesty, they conceal their bodies, they stop bathing naked together.”
Download a sample and read some of Mark Twain’s most honest writings from a time when even America’s leading humorist could not publish such biting criticism.
See my other posts by Twain:
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