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The Bible According to Mark Twain: Irreverent Writings on Eden, Heaven, and the Flood by America's Master Satirist Paperback – December 6, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0684824390 ISBN-10: 0684824396 Edition: 1st Touchstone ed

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The Bible According to Mark Twain: Irreverent Writings on Eden, Heaven, and the Flood by America's Master Satirist + The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain: A Book of Quotations (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Touchstone ed edition (December 6, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684824396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684824390
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The editors of this book have serious reason to believe that the Bible influenced Mark Twain more than any other book as his beliefs progressed from Presbyterianism through deism and on to Darwinian determinism. They scoured 40 years of his writings to compile an anthology of both unpublished and newly edited works, complete with appendixes of related pieces, in which Twain dealt with biblical figures, themes, or settings. The result is a fascinating contribution to the Twain canon in which we see him wrestle with the God-man relationship and take provocative stabs at the Bible's inconsistencies. Twain's styles here are as arresting as his content as he moves from biblical rhythms and rhetoric to the Pepysian bombast of the author he was reading when he wrote "Methuselah's Diary." Twain aficionados will revel in such episodes as Shem and his family sitting up all night signing autographs for their now-famous dad, Noah, while Methuselah pouts that he was not selected to build the infamous ark. A collection that offers readers a fascinating panoply of wit, satire, farce, fantasy, lyricism, heresy, the sardonic, and the controversial. Patricia Hassler --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"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
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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

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I especially liked the Diary of Eve and the Diary of Adam.
Griffel
In this book Mark Twain aims his satire at favorite stories from the Old Testament.
The Spinozanator
Heard back that the book was very enjoyable and enlightening.
Annette Calvi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

277 of 284 people found the following review helpful By John Rush on December 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
In the decades since his death, many of Mark Twain's writings have been reorganized into common themes such as protests, speeches, short stories and sketches, and full works of fiction in larger volumes. A recent welcome addition to these is The Bible According to Mark Twain, which includes diaries of Adam, Eve, and other Old Testament characters, various speculations on what the imaginary Heaven might be like (including Captain Stormfield's), some autobiographical dictations, a few pieces that appear in print for the first time, and, of course, Letters From the Earth.
It also contains too many of the editor's notes that plague most of Twain's posthumous releases. Here, notes take up 50 of the book's first 260 pages (10 more are blank). Why do editors feel compelled to insert their version of Twain's autobiography before every entry? If they must share this information with readers, they can do so at the start or the end of the book, without interrupting Twain's far superior writing. Granted, some of the details are worth knowing: Twain read Paine's Age of Reason while piloting riverboats. This helped shape his views toward Christianity. But other statements are extremely irritating: "...we have omitted the five-and-a-half page attack on the concept of the virgin birth (mistakenly referred to as the immaculate conception) because that discussion is not closely related to the writings in this volume." Yes it is! Claims like this make me wonder what else is missing. The rest of Twain's writings on religion need a book of their own, WITHOUT the gratuitous editorial comments.
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158 of 163 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on October 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Mark Twain promptly proves with this volume that he is, indeed, as the title states, "America's Master Satirist." Having grown up in a fundamentalist Presbyterian community, Twain knew his Bible well; and, like any thinking person, his beliefs and attitudes relating to it changed as he grew older, wiser, and more experienced. Although Twain - due to many factors, such as the death of several children and his wife and his failed investments - grew famously bitter towards the end of his life, his vision remained remarkably clear-headed, though clearly suffued with pessimism - indeed, his zest for the truth and absolute intolerance for mankind's accepted irrational beliefs became even more razor-sharp during this period. Although there are writings in this volume from all phases of Mark Twain's career, the majority of them do come from that latter period - a period in which, indeed, the exploration of these themes was the main facet of his writing. Included are such well-known items as the Diaries of Adam and Eve (as well as several other Old Testament characters), Captain Stormfield's Visit To Heaven (published here in full for the first time ever), and, of course, his masterpiece, Letters From The Earth. In these, and the other, oftentimes more obscure pieces, Twain burlesques and satarizes freely, calling mankind on both his steadfast taking to irrational and illogical beliefs, as well as on his sheer stupidity and gullibility. If one is looking for a satire along the lines of Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn, then this is DEFINITELY not the place to look; however, if you have a fondness, as I do, for the darker, more probing side of Twain, then this is a volume that you must most definitely pick up.
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85 of 88 people found the following review helpful By cha8193@ibm.net on April 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Bible According to Mark Twain gathers together a group of writings by the famous author that were either published years ago or not at all. The writings all deal with Mark Twain's intense study and understanding of the Bible. The book begins with some humorous ideas of what Adam's and Eve's diaries may have looked like during their first days together and then later after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Twain is unable to comprehend how they could be punished for doing something bad (eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge) when they still had no conception of good and bad until they ate the apple. Later works detail some thoughts on Noah and the flood and the importance of flies. It was important to preserve the disease carriers. When Twain takes a walk through Heaven you discover halos, harps, and wings are just for show. And finally he finishes up with a scathing attack on the stupidity of mankind, pointing out that statements like, Thou Shall Not Kill, and committing genocide do not go together. Or how could man conceive of a Heaven as Heaven and leave out sexual intercourse? If sanity is dangerous to your health, don't read this book.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By The Spinozanator VINE VOICE on November 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
In this book Mark Twain aims his satire at favorite stories from the Old Testament. He worked on these essays for most of his life but was afraid their irreverent nature would damage his career, therefore, he just kept re-writing and re-editing them. Most of them were not published until after his death and for some this is their introduction.

Adam and Eve, in their diaries, present bittersweet divergent stories of their dysfunctional relationship. Their accounts could be prototypes from a marriage counsellor's office, or short versions of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus."

Captain Stormfield has a dream about ending up in Heaven when he thought he was going to the other place. "He was deeply religious, by nature and by the training of his mother, and a fluent swearer by the training of his father." In this original and inventive story, we learn all those things about heaven that were left out of the Bible - but would be included in an imaginary book, "How to experience Heaven in six weeks on $10 a day."

An "Etiquette in the Afterlife" excerpt: "Do not try to show off. St. Peter dislikes it. The simpler you are dressed, the better it will please him. Above all things, avoid overdressing. A pair of spurs and a fig-leaf is plenty...leave your dog outside. Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay outside and the dog would go in."

In the masterpiece, "Letters From The Earth," Satan has been temporarily expelled from heaven and is wandering around the universe. On a lark, he decides to visit earth, an outlying little spot in an outlying galaxy that God had once played around with for a few days.
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