Talk:Mark Twain

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"His personality and his humor have been an integral part of American life for so long that it has seemed almost impossible to realize an America without him.[1]"

Passive voice, normative statement, non sequitur. Not needed.

And why isn't his contempt for Christianity mentioned? In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck constantly grapples with how he'll go to hell if he doesn't turn Jim in to the authorities. And the way the king and the duke dupe the religious people into giving them money can be seen as obvious jabs at Christianity and organized religion in general. Also, I quote from Wikipedia: "In later years, Twain's family suppressed some of his work which was especially irreverent toward conventional religion, notably Letters from the Earth, which was not published until 1962. The anti-religious The Mysterious Stranger was published in 1916, although there is some scholarly debate as to whether Twain actually wrote the most familiar version of this story. Twain was critical of organized religion and certain elements of the Christian religion through most of the end of his life, though he never renounced Presbyterianism[19]"

Shouldn't this material on Twain's religious views be mentioned too? The entry on here right now strikes me as being liberally biased.

--WOVcenter 03:16, 10 March 2007 (EST)
Did you really mean to say liberally biased?
I agree with you with what you say about Twain's religious views, above. And I've said on the Talk page that I believe he should be removed from the list in Homeschooling. Although if his religious views are to be mentioned, something must be said about his book on Joan of Arc... Dpbsmith 07:25, 10 March 2007 (EST)

Before the end of the American Civil War (the time period in which Huck Finn takes place), American preachers in pro-slavery territories of the US did preach that slaves should be obedient to their masters (based on a Bible verse by the apostle Paul, though the exact verse escapes me) and that freeing them was a sin. In Huck Finn's mind, he was stealing property from an old woman, not freeing a man from a lifetime of harsh servitude. So, it's no surprise that he feels like he is a sinner for helping Jim escape. Huck decides that he's always been a sinner and decides that in order to do the right thing by helping Jim, he will have to "go to Hell, then" since he's always been taught that slavery was right under Christianity.

Mark Twain lived in Hannibal, Missouri and witnessed the slave trade and he wrote that the preacher and the community taught that slavery was not a sin. As he grew older, he realized that was wrong and Huck Finn shows this. I've only read excerpts of Mysterious Stranger and Letters from the Earth but I've always felt that Twain was just disappointed that Christians never seemed, in his eyes, to live up to the values and principles they claimed to possess and yet they did deplorable things at the time like support slavery (not all did, but enough did).

Sorry for the long-winded comment and maybe some original research on my part there, but I hope it helps. Ripberger 01:27, 28 June 2007 (EDT)


I think that the religion section treats Twain harshly. He was a practicing Presbyterian, but the deaths of most members of his family (his son Langdon, his wife, and two of his three daughters died in his lifetime) by the end of his life made him very bitter towards God and religion but didn't mean he was necessarily an atheist, just angry that life had treated him poorly. I don't know how strict this site is on sources, but the Ken Burns' documentary "Mark Twain" is where I'm getting this information. I know this is a conservative website that considers the kind of humor regarding God that Twain utilized to be sacreligious but that doesn't mean that he wasn't a Christian or anti-Christian. I'm going to try to reword the section without ruffling any feathers :). Ripberger 19:29, 21 June 2007 (EDT)

I do own a copy of Letters to the Earth, which hardly seems like the work of a practicing Presbyterian. I do know it wasn't published during his lifetime, but maybe it could at most be said that he was outwardly a Christian? DanH 19:40, 21 June 2007 (EDT)

It's times like these I wish someone who was an expert could comment on this. I honestly don't know too much about Twain, I just know that he really blamed himself and God for a lot of the heartbreak in his life. Whether or not he truly gave up Presbyterianism and Christianity all together by the time of his death is beyond me. There is a book out called The Bible According to Mark Twain that may answer this, but I don't have it or ever read it. Ripberger 20:05, 21 June 2007 (EDT)
I think it's important to note that none of Twain's major anti-religion writings were published by Twain in his lifetime. The passages in Huck Finn are, in my mind, more a case of a young man's moral center seeing through the horror of slavery to true Christian charity. Twain, like many men of his day, kept a detailed diary. From what I've read this diary often took the form of essays and stories. His early books were largely diary entries run through an editor. Twain, like many Christians, clearly had his doubts and spiritual battles. Unlike many of us, he recorded those battles in his diary, elaborated into stories and dialogs. He had the misfortune of having greedy heirs who chose to publish those private, intimate journals after he died. We only see the heavily edited writings presented to enhance Twain's image as as sarcastic humorist who mocked everything. We have no evidence that these scandalous writings are anything more than private heartache and doubt, edited and twisted by his publishers for dramatic effect. --AlexC 21:52, 29 December 2008 (EST)