Letters from the Earth PDF ñ Letters from MOBI

An American classic with than 320000 copies sold some of Twain's most pungent and hilarious writingsThe attitude is that of Swift the intellectual contempt is that of Voltaire and the imagination is that of one of the great masters of American writing New York Times


10 thoughts on “Letters from the Earth

  1. says:

    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 worldIf 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 itI'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 chapsNot 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 Exupéry's The Little Prince•My least popular review according to whatever algorithm GoodReads employs is on The Man of Bronze by Kenneth Robeson


  2. says:

    Satan's letters written during a visit to Earth this is Mark Twain at his most cynical and offensive This is a far cry from CS Lewis perhaps even a Bizarro reflection Long before today's crop of posturing pompous ass religious critics Twain did it better faster and funnier For those who like their humor dark as unsweetened cocoa


  3. says:

    “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 TwainThey 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 intercourseThe 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 eg when pointing out the absurdities of the story of Noah and the Ark but they go deeper than that eg when the question of illness and disease is raised ”The 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 happenThe 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 Luke ”Since 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 Hell ”Life 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 ie 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 here ”We 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