Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings

Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings

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by Mark Twain

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"I have told you nothing about man that is not true." You must pardon me if I repeat that remark now and then in these letters; I want you to take seriously the things I am telling you, and I feel that if I were in your place and you in mine, I should need that reminder from time to time, to keep my credulity from flagging.

In Letters from the Earth,

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"I have told you nothing about man that is not true." You must pardon me if I repeat that remark now and then in these letters; I want you to take seriously the things I am telling you, and I feel that if I were in your place and you in mine, I should need that reminder from time to time, to keep my credulity from flagging.

In Letters from the Earth, Twain presents himself as the Father of History -- reviewing and interpreting events from the Garden of Eden through the Fall and the Flood, translating the papers of Adam and his descendants through the generations. First published fifty years after his death, this eclectic collection is vintage Twain: sharp, witty, imaginative, complex, and wildly funny.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times
The 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.
Carl Reiner is as gifted a comedic narrator as Mark Twain was an author. In this 6 hour, 4 cassette, aptly abridged rendition of Twain's uncensored satire of the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, the listener will be introduced to a "freethinker" side of Mark Twain's thought and humor that at the time of his death was thought to be so disrespectful of established Christianity as to have been suppressed by his own daughter. Letters From The Earth is superbly performed, flawless produced, and an enthusiastically recommended listening experience that is both wildly funny and deeply thoughtful.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Perennial Classics Series
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5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.75(d)

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Letters from the Earth
Uncensored Writings

The Creator sat upon the throne, thinking. Behind him stretched the illimitable continent of heaven, steeped in a glory of light and color; before him rose the black night of Space, like a wall. His mighty bulk towered rugged and mountain-like into the zenith, and His divine head blazed there like a distant sun. At His feet stood three colossal figures, diminished to extinction, almost, by contrast -- archangels -- their heads level with His anklebone.

When the Creator had finished thinking, He said, "I have thought. Behold!"

He lifted His hand, and from it burst a fountain-spray of fire, a million stupendous suns, which clove the blackness and soared, away and away and away, diminishing in magnitude and intensity as they pierced the far frontiers of Space, until at last they were but as diamond nailheads sparkling under the domed vast roof of the universe.

At the end of an hour the Grand Council was dismissed.

They left the Presence impressed and thoughtful, and retired to a private place, where they might talk with freedom. None of the three seemed to want to begin, though all wanted somebody to do it. Each was burning to discuss the great event, but would prefer not to commit himself till he should know how the others regarded it. So there was some aimless and halting conversation about matters of no consequence, and this dragged tediously along, arriving nowhere, until at last the archangel Satan gathered his courage together -- of which he had a very good supply -- and broke ground. He said: "We know what we are here to talk about, my lords, and we may as well put pretense aside, and begin. If this is the opinion of the Council -- "

"It is, it is!" said Gabriel and Michael, gratefully interrupting.

"Very well, then, let us proceed. We have witnessed a wonderful thing; as to that, we are necessarily agreed. As to the value of it -- if it has any -- that is a matter which does not personally concern us. We can have as many opinions about it as we like, and that is our limit. We have no vote. I think Space was well enough, just at it was, and useful, too. Cold and dark -- a restful place, now and then, after a season of the overdelicate climate and trying splendors of heaven. But these are details of no considerable moment; the new feature, the immense feature, is -- what, gentlemen?"

"The invention and introduction of automatic, unsupervised, self-regulating law for the government of those myriads of whirling and racing suns and worlds!"

"That is it!" said Satan. "You perceive that it is a stupendous idea. Nothing approaching it has been evolved from the Master Intellect before. Law -- Automatic Law -- exact and unvarying Law -- requiring no watching, no correcting, no readjusting while the eternities endure! He said those countless vast bodies would plunge through the wastes of Space ages and ages, at unimaginable speed, around stupendous orbits, yet never collide, and never lengthen nor shorten their orbital periods by so much as the hundredth part of a second in two thousand years! That is the new miracle, and the greatest of all -- Automatic Law! And He gave it a name -- the LAW OF NATURE -- and said Natural Law is the LAW OF GOD -- interchangeable names for one and the same thing."

"Yes," said Michael, "and He said He would establish Natural Law -- the Law of God -- throughout His dominions, and its authority should be supreme and inviolable."

"Also," said Gabriel, "He said He would by and by create animals, and place them, likewise, under the authority of that Law."

"Yes," said Satan, "I heard Him, but did not understand. What is animals, Gabriel?"

"Ah, how should I know? How should any of us know? It is a new word."

[Interval of three centuries, celestial time -- the equivalent of a hundred million years, earthly time. Enter a Messenger-Angel.]

"My lords, He is making animals. Will it please you to come and see?"

They went, they saw, and were perplexed. Deeply perplexed -- and the Creator noticed it, and said, "Ask. I will answer."

"Divine One," said Satan, making obeisance, "what are they for?"

"They are an experiment in Morals and Conduct. Observe them, and be instructed."

There were thousands of them. They were full of activities. Busy, all busy -- mainly in persecuting each other. Satan remarked -- after examining one of them through a powerful microscope: "This large beast is killing weaker animals, Divine One."

"The tiger -- yes. The law of his nature is ferocity. The law of his nature is the Law of God. He cannot disobey it."

"Then in obeying it he commits no offense, Divine One?"

"No, he is blameless."

"This other creature, here, is timid, Divine One, and suffers death without resisting."

"The rabbit -- yes. He is without courage. It is the law of his nature -- the Law of God. He must obey it."

"Then he cannot honorably be required to go counter to his nature and resist, Divine One?"

"No. No creature can be honorably required to go counter to the law of his nature -- the Law of God."

After a long time and many questions, Satan said, "The spider kills the fly, and eats it; the bird kills the spider and eats it; the wildcat kills the goose; the -- well, they all kill each other. It is murder all along the line. Here are countless multitudes of creatures, and they all kill, kill, kill, they are all murderers. And they are not to blame, Divine One?"

"They are not to blame. It is the law of their nature. And always the law of nature is the Law of God. Now -- observe -- behold! A new creature -- and the masterpiece -- Man!"

Men, women, children, they came swarming in flocks, in droves, in millions.

"What shall you do with them, Divine One?"

Letters from the Earth
Uncensored Writings
. Copyright © by Mark Twain. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Letters From The Earth 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Temporarily banned from Heaven, Satan spends a long celestial day on Earth and sends his friends St. Michael and St. Gabriel letters about his observations of how God's experiment with the human race seems to be coming along. And, of course, Satan has the literary voice of Mark Twain at his cynical and iconoclastic best. C. S. Lewis much later tried a similar plot in his 'The Screwtape Letters' to push his theology. Twain's 'Letters from the Earth' is the better choice, especially if you're open to exposing and laughing at the hypocrisy of the overly pious.
AdamManthei More than 1 year ago
Aging and approaching the river Ganges, Mark Twain writes about his thoughts on Christianity, the church, Satan and the heavenly entourage, human nature, and God. The only one of those he doesn't criticize, subjecting it to his own brand of critical thought, is the last one. And in true Mark Twain fashion, there are parts of this book that are hillarious, finding humor in the holy. However, it quickly descends into writing that is clearly written when someone is in spiritual pain. Alone. And brave enough to stand there when he beleives anywhere else he's seen is a lie, a damn lie, or worse, a statistic. This is Mark Twain at his most dangerous. If anything did, this would earn him eternal damnation for his rejection of Orthodoxy, the popular beliefs of his time. But if you ever sat in a pew listening to a man of God teach the truth, and it left indigestion in your heart, then Letters from the Earth may be the cure.
Bonkwaddle More than 1 year ago
I guess I was expecting more. I thought it would have more humor. One reason to go to the store, and check out before purchasing. Had I done that, I would not have purchased the book.
LK_Hunter More than 1 year ago
This is a great satire, a well written story of the biblical angels and one of Twain's lesser known works. It's a great deal on Nook and hard to find anywhere else. For Twain fans, fans of good, classic literature, and probably atheists too.
Janus More than 1 year ago
Mark Twain brings his trademark wisdom and wit to the realm of philosophy and particularly religion in this collection of writings. The main set of stories takes Lucifer's point of view. He has been temporarily exiled from heaven for failing to praise God for his latest creation, life. Instead of being sent to hell, Lucifer is forced to live amongst man. The story unfolds as he retells the "true" history of man in various letters to his friends in heaven. While this may be one of Twain's funniest stories, it is also one of his most intellectually stimulating. After every one of Lucifer's letters in which he'd point out some hypocrisy or humorous religious rule I found myself deep in thought. This is the kind of book that when you are finished laughing you will suddenly find yourself saying, "Wow, he's right!" Assuming you're not offended by anything that pokes fun at Christianity this book is for everyone. The humor is more in the form of gentle wit and is never derogatory towards Christianity. I've read everything from Nieztche to Satre and in the end Twain rings the most true.
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