The Bible According to Mark Twain: Writings on Heaven, Eden, and the Flood

Overview

In this brilliant and hilarious compilation of essays, letters, diaries, and excerpts - some never before published - Mark Twain takes on Heaven and Hell, sinners and saints and showcases his own unique approach to the Holy Scriptures including Adam and Eve's divergent accounts of their domestic troubles, Satan's take on our concept of the afterlife, Methuselah's discussion of an ancient version of baseball, and advice on how to dress and tip properly in heaven. Behind the humor of these pieces, readers will see ...
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Overview

In this brilliant and hilarious compilation of essays, letters, diaries, and excerpts - some never before published - Mark Twain takes on Heaven and Hell, sinners and saints and showcases his own unique approach to the Holy Scriptures including Adam and Eve's divergent accounts of their domestic troubles, Satan's take on our concept of the afterlife, Methuselah's discussion of an ancient version of baseball, and advice on how to dress and tip properly in heaven. Behind the humor of these pieces, readers will see Twain's serious thoughts on the relationship between God and man, biblical inconsistencies, Darwinism, science, and the impact of technology on religious beliefs. The Bible According to Mark Twain is vintage Twain and is sure to surprise, delight, and perhaps shock modern readers.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Brings together 15 works that reveal Twain's lifelong attempts to deal--both humorously and seriously--with traditional religious concepts. The introduction to each selection tells when and how Twain came to write and publish--or fail to publish or to finish--the piece. All of the works have been newly edited from the manuscripts, where available. The endnotes provide valuable supplementary information. No index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

"The Bible According to Mark Twain helps us in the process of rediscovering or reinventing Mark Twain by engaging our question about where this figure came from, what forces shaped him, what he means, and why he speaks to and for Americans especially.”--College Literature

"Baetzhold and McCullough have delivered a great boon to lovers of Mark Twain. In providing for both those Biblical writings which Twain considered publishable and those that then seemed too potentially offensive for publication, they have enabled us to gain a fuller comprehension of the very complex author. In providing the original form as well as revised versions of published material, they have enabled us to observe the artist at work and thus to gain a deeper insight into the nature of his art. And in making their explanatory materials so readable and readily accessible, they made the pursuit of Mark Twain studies thoroughly enjoyable."--Mark Twain Society

"A collection that offers readers a fascinating panoply of wit, satire, farce, fantasy, lyricism, heresy, the sardonic, and the controversial."--Booklist

"The present collection—spanning four decades (1871-1910)—is both a genuine service to Twain lovers and one showing Twain at his most charming and witty."--Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684824390
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 12/6/1996
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 198,483
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Twain

Howard G. Baetzhold is Rebecca Clifton Reade Professor of English Emeritus at Butler University in Indianapolis and John S. Tuckey Memorial Research Fellow at Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies at Quarry Farm. An advisory board member and contributor to the Mark Twain Encyclopedia, he is currently an editor of Tales and Sketches of the Middle Years and Tales and Sketches of the Later Years for the Mark Twain Project. Joseph B. McCullough is Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In addition to a number of articles on Mark Twain, he is the author of Hamlin Garland, and editor of Hamlin Garland's Tales of the Middle Border and Hamlin Garland's Son of the Middle Border.

Biography

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri; his family moved to the port town of Hannibal four years later. His father, an unsuccessful farmer, died when Twain was eleven. Soon afterward the boy began working as an apprentice printer, and by age sixteen he was writing newspaper sketches. He left Hannibal at eighteen to work as an itinerant printer in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. From 1857 to 1861 he worked on Mississippi steamboats, advancing from cub pilot to licensed pilot.

After river shipping was interrupted by the Civil War, Twain headed west with his brother Orion, who had been appointed secretary to the Nevada Territory. Settling in Carson City, he tried his luck at prospecting and wrote humorous pieces for a range of newspapers. Around this time he first began using the pseudonym Mark Twain, derived from a riverboat term. Relocating to San Francisco, he became a regular newspaper correspondent and a contributor to the literary magazine the Golden Era. He made a five-month journey to Hawaii in 1866 and the following year traveled to Europe to report on the first organized tourist cruise. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches (1867) consolidated his growing reputation as humorist and lecturer.

After his marriage to Livy Langdon, Twain settled first in Buffalo, New York, and then for two decades in Hartford, Connecticut. His European sketches were expanded into The Innocents Abroad (1869), followed by Roughing It (1872), an account of his Western adventures; both were enormously successful. Twain's literary triumphs were offset by often ill-advised business dealings (he sank thousands of dollars, for instance, in a failed attempt to develop a new kind of typesetting machine, and thousands more into his own ultimately unsuccessful publishing house) and unrestrained spending that left him in frequent financial difficulty, a pattern that was to persist throughout his life.

Following The Gilded Age (1873), written in collaboration with Charles Dudley Warner, Twain began a literary exploration of his childhood memories of the Mississippi, resulting in a trio of masterpieces --The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883), and finally The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), on which he had been working for nearly a decade. Another vein, of historical romance, found expression in The Prince and the Pauper (1882), the satirical A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), and Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), while he continued to draw on his travel experiences in A Tramp Abroad (1880) and Following the Equator (1897). His close associates in these years included William Dean Howells, Bret Harte, and George Washington Cable, as well as the dying Ulysses S. Grant, whom Twain encouraged to complete his memoirs, published by Twain's publishing company in 1885.

For most of the 1890s Twain lived in Europe, as his life took a darker turn with the death of his daughter Susy in 1896 and the worsening illness of his daughter Jean. The tone of Twain's writing also turned progressively more bitter. The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), a detective story hinging on the consequences of slavery, was followed by powerful anti-imperialist and anticolonial statements such as 'To the Person Sitting in Darkness' (1901), 'The War Prayer' (1905), and 'King Leopold's Soliloquy' (1905), and by the pessimistic sketches collected in the privately published What Is Man? (1906). The unfinished novel The Mysterious Stranger was perhaps the most uncompromisingly dark of all Twain's later works. In his last years, his financial troubles finally resolved, Twain settled near Redding, Connecticut, and died in his mansion, Stormfield, on April 21, 1910.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Samuel Langhorne Clemens (real name); Sieur Louis de Conte
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 30, 1835
    2. Place of Birth:
      Florida, Missouri
    1. Date of Death:
      April 21, 1910
    2. Place of Death:
      Redding, Connecticut

Table of Contents

Preface
Abbreviations
Introduction
A Note on the Texts
Extracts from Adam's Diary 3
Eve's Diary 17
Autobiography of Eve and Diaries Antedating the Flood 35
Documents Related to "Diaries Antedating the Flood" 85
Two Additional Pre-Deluge Diarists 91
Passages from Methuselah's Diary 97
Passages from Shem's Diary 107
Adam's Expulsion 111
Adam's Soliloquy 117
Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven 129
Captain Simon Wheeler's Dream Visit to Heaven 189
A Singular Episode: The Reception of Rev. Sam Jones in Heaven 195
Mental Telegraphy? 203
Etiquette for the Afterlife: Advice to Paine 207
Letters from the Earth 213
App. 1 Original Continuation of "Autobiography of Eve" 263
App. 2 Planning Notes for "Autobiography of Eve" 275
App. 3 "Extracts from Adam's Diary" from the Original Niagara Book Version 278
App. 4 Planning Notes for Methuselah's Diary 287
App. 5 Passages from "Stormfield" Preserved in the Manuscript but Deleted from Typescript or Proof 299
App. 6 Discussion of the Fall from "Schoolhouse Hill" 306
App. 7 God of the Bible vs. God of the Present Day (1870s) 313
App. 8 Selected Passages on God and the Bible from Autobiographical Dictations of June 1906 318
Notes 333
Works Cited 381
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    Love Mark Twains humor

    I have always enjoyed Mark Twain so I looked forward to reading this book. Was a Little disappointed in how it was put together. I am not sorry I read the book but I'm not sure if I could highly recommend it either. You'll have to read it and decide for yourself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2007

    Funny, thoughtful, brilliant

    This book is hilarious and actually kinda insightful. Mark Twain was about 130 years ahead of his time, and if you like his work and don't mind seeing religion made fun of definitely pick this up. Theodore Korolchuk

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    Posted March 29, 2009

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    Posted August 9, 2009

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    Posted October 19, 2008

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