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Letters From The Earth

177 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1619491571
ISBN-10: 1619491575
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Editorial Reviews Review

If you're already familiar with Finn and Sawyer, perhaps this collection of fragments, short stories, and essays--assembled posthumously some few decades ago now, but still fresh--will enhance your sense of Twain's true range. A particular favorite: his essay "The Damned Human Race," wherein he proves, rather convincingly, that an anaconda snake is a higher form of life than an English Earl. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Twain sentimentalists will gasp, Bible-belters will turn purple, austere stylistic purists will raise eyebrows -- but dyed-in-the-wool Twain enthusiasts will grab hungrily for what amounts to a new volume by the 'Lincoln of our literature' ... The pages in this volume range from furious to funny, from deadly earnestness to frothy wordplay. --Library Journal

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 70 pages
  • Publisher: EMP Press (August 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1619491575
  • ISBN-13: 978-1619491571
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Twain (1835-1910) was an American humorist, satirist, social critic, lecturer and novelist. He is mostly remembered for his classic novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Lena Guyot on January 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
I first read "Letters from the Earth" in 1962, when I was a highschool student in Redding, CT. Redding was the last home of Mark Twain, and those who held his literary legacy as sacred, his library as a shrine, were definitely upset and embarrased when it was published. All this made it compelling reading for an adolescent who was beginning to notice the inconsistencies, hypocrisies and downright insanities of human belief.
"Letters from the Earth" shook loose the stones of my foundation: a service for which I'll be forever grateful. Including himself in his witty attack on Earthly Man's frailties, Twain's observations encouraged me to trust my own perceptions, prod sacred cows, and ultimately to forgive myself for being at best, "a nickel-plated angel".
I've read, reread, and revered most of Twain's legacy, but I think of this particular book as a treasurebox full of letters from a brilliant, irascible but loving uncle each of us should have known sometime in our lives. I only wish I'd remembered to share it with my own kids when they were adolescents. I must make amends right now...AFTER I've reread it myself.
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81 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on July 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is probably not what you are expecting. If you are looking for a free-wheelin' adventure story along the lines of Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn, you will not only be disappointed, but most probably shocked. However, if you are looking for an entire book of irrevent writings - as I was - then that's not what you're getting, either. Something less than half of the book (say, roughly, 1/3) consists of deliciously irrevent writings, drained from Mark Twain's pen of bitter ink. The best among these is the title section, "Letters From The Earth", in which Satan writes back to archangels Gabriel and Michael about his visit to earth and the "human race experiment", after his banishment from heaven. In these letters, Mark Twain points out various absurtities and illogical assertions and beliefs about human religions, and unflinchingly describes the vanity and hypocrisy of many of its adherents. I was under the impression that the entire book consisted of these letters; however, I was wrong. It is merely the first section of the book, occupying some 30-50 pages. For people who are highly into this kind of writing, however - as I am - it is worth the price of admission alone. There are several other pieces in the book along this line - including the famous essays Was The World Made For Man? and The Lowest Animal - which display not only Mark Twain's essential pessimism, but his very rational mind and hilarous wit. These pieces are an absolutely essential read for the lover of satire: few better examples are to be found anywhere in literature. The rest of the book, however, is a mixed bag. It consits of various pieces from the "Mark Twain Papers" - a collection of his writings (mostly unfinished) the he decreed to have published sometime after his death.Read more ›
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jack Purcell on May 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
Letters from the Earth is an assortment of unpublished-for-60-years writings by Mark Twain. They cover a wide span of subject matter ranging from critiques of the prose style of another writer to the author's construction of the Old Testament and God from the perspective of Satan. In addition to Letters From Earth (Satan's), the contents includes Papers of the Adam Family, The Damned Human Race, Something About Repentance, Was the World Made For Man, In the Animal's Court, The Intelligence of God, The Lowest Animal and others.
Readers who are offended by careful examinations of the meaning and implications of holy or sacred writings of the Old Testiment will not enjoy this book. The author, whatever his actual religious beliefs, probably wasn't an Old Testiment Christian. In this series of short writings he takes specific stories from the OT and holds them into the light away from the long traditions that accompany them in most of our minds. He examines the evidence of the stories for hints of what sort of creature God must be if the OT is true. He extropolates what Satan might be.
I'm an admirer of this author and I believe everything he ever wrote is worth reading and digesting. I put this book alongside his best. But I also admit that if I harbored a microbe of religious fanatic somewhere inside me I'd be hard-pressed to enjoy reading Letters From the Earth.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
Truly, Mark Twain is one of the greatest American writers. And without a doubt, Huck Finn is among the few candidates for "The Great American Novel." However, one cannot completely understand Twain without reading LFTE. This is the work of the TRUE Twain.(The one that will never be loudly applauded) His appraoch towards organized religion is without restraint, and his mockery is often hilarious. Please read this if you want to learn the inner- workings of America's greatest satirist.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful By C. Collins on October 9, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was disappointed when I received the book. Bernard Devos edited a collection of MT's late writings entitled _Letters from the Earth_, and that's what I expected. What I received was just those essays comprising "Letters from the Earth" that comprised a small part of the book. It did not include "Etiquette at a Funeral", "The Awful German Language", "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses", "On Repentance", and a number of other superb essays and stories.
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