Letters from the Earth


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(1909)



Mark Twain's Letters from the Earth is a brilliant and incredibly imaginative take on the story of the Bible itself. Starting with the creation of the Earth, Twain's fresh view on the most basic of Biblical doctrine is objectively approached from the perspective of one without any preconceived religious notions. Composed of prominent figures including Satan himself, the story weaves together a fresh, new slant on God and man. With his sharp wit, Twain examines Heaven and Earth, and characterizes humanity in such an acute manner, that what he purports unanticipatedly seems obvious. After reading this book, you will never look at the Bible or mankind the same.--Submitted by Janet Schmehl

"Letters from the Earth" is one of Mark Twain's final assaults on the stupidity and hypocrisy of man and an apparently capricious and malevolent God. It lacks his customary humor and seems to be written in a tone of outrage. Satan goes to the earth and sends these letters to his friends, the archangels Gabriel and Michael. What he finds is a complete disconnect between professed belief and action. Twain turns accepted doctrines and smug platitudes on their heads to bolster his assertions. The Problem of Evil has troubled men since Sumerian times at the very latest. Twain holds God responsible for creating human nature the way it is and the 'thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to' as well, and the atrocities of his time are no worse than those sanctioned in the Bible. If the reader can keep an open mind, some interesting insights and disquieting thoughts might enter.--Submitted by Charles Steele

Dripping with sarcasm about religion, this would make Christopher Hitchens proud. Although, Mark Twain was much less rude than Hitchens, I suspect that Hitchens enjoyed this book as much as I did.--Submitted by Gerry Goldlist

This book changed my thoughts on everything I was ever taught. Amazing book.--Submitted by James Reynolds



I first read this book in high school, when I still had a sense of innocence and air of gullibility that is common of young guys of that age. This book opened my eyes.....not only to deeper meanings in Twain's earlier works but to a realization of the hypocrisy in our modern day religious myths. I enjoyed it immensely then and still do today.--Submitted by Fields Douglas







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Twain's Final Vitriol

I could never, and will never, accept LETTERS FROM THE EARTH as anything other than the voice of a Mark Twain crying in a imagined wilderness of despair and confusion. To him, a man who had given the world so much wit and humor, it must've appeared as if all the entities of heaven and hell had conspired to play a diabolical joke on him. The death of his beloved wife Livy and that of his daughters, his financial losses, the infirmities of age,...all of these had and were taking their toll on him, both physically and mentally. For an added "laugh," while Twain's personal despairs were bringing him to his lowest point, his public acclaim was continually rising to that of legendary status...people from all over the world loved and admired him. He was in constant demand by nearly everyone: for his opinions and advice, for his lectures at various universities, for merely his appearance at social events, etc..Only his closest friends were aware of the dark and embittered moods of this great man; they alone knew of his anger toward everyone and everything. It was inevitable that Twain would desire his bitterness to be made public in one way or another. Of course, for one such as him this would be the way of the printed word of which LETTERS FROM THE EARTH is the result. Within the course of its pages, it's as if he transformed all the love and devotion shown to him into scorn and contempt...throwing it into the faces of his admirers; a catharsis for his internal pain and for the irony of his prestige. This isn't the Mark Twain that brought to life the beloved characters of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn any longer; it's a "new" Mark Twain, one that the world would have been shocked to have seen. I doubt if Twain's image and mythical persona could have survived such an unveiling; it's better for most of us that it was never put to the test. If anything, it was delayed long enough for Twain's tragic side to subside into research, footnotes and further reading. When I was young, I couldn't love Twain as much as I did if I knew him too well; now that I'm older, I don't love him any less for knowing him all too well. I suppose that's the way I feel about America, wherein Mark Twain played a considerable part.


a controversial jewel!

I donīt blame Mark Twainīs daughter for concealing this book! In two words, I define it as an acrimonious tract. Even me, who am not squeamish at any rate, indeed hostile to all religious matters, was profoundly astonished by its contents. A gloomy side to the author of so many funny tales, read this volume at your own risk. Iīm serious, your former opinion, respect and affection for Mark Twain is likely to be capsized forever. Mine was, actually! Now he occupies a fair place far above the one I had previously given him due to my ignorance.


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