The Diary of Adam and Eve

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The Diary of Adam and Eve

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març 28, 2007, 6:59am

Just started reading this. It seems quite transgressive in its thesis that mankind is punished for being innocent.

In his Foreword John Updike refers to two pieces by Twain, 'The Mysterious Stranger' and 'Letters from the Earth', whose nihilistic nature 'by and large' prevented publication. I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has access to these texts.

març 28, 2007, 7:27am

You can get copies of them here Mysterious Stranger. This actually has lots of texts on everything. It's worth noting that there are a few different versions of the MS story.

And here Letters from the Earth.

març 28, 2007, 7:55am

jargoneer; many thanks for your help.

març 29, 2007, 1:06am

postit, Letters from the Earth is fantastic; it’s one of my favourite books! (and, an excellent link jargoneer! I will have to pass that one around). If you would like an actual copy of it, I would suggest looking in bookstores that sell remainders and publisher overstocks (that’s where I got my copy), or at used bookstores--I have seen good condition copies in used bookstores at great prices, too.

març 29, 2007, 11:21am

Thanks dodger.

Editat: març 29, 2007, 11:28am

If there's a 1974 copyright, how can Letters be published on the web? I think 1962 was the first publication.

març 29, 2007, 11:30am

Amazon has copies of Letters from the Earth, new and used.

Don't miss the essay on Fennimore Cooper. :-)

març 29, 2007, 11:38am


Transgressive? I call it satire.

Nihilist? Twain rejected religious belief. But not morality. Clearly he didn't think much of the morality of some religious teachings. :-)

Editat: març 29, 2007, 11:47am

Diary, Mysterious Stranger, and Letters are Twain's later works, and the only Twain I really like. A lot of it was never completed, and even more went unpublished for a long time.

Toward the end of his life, Twain became disillusioned with Christianity, and the brunt of his later work deals with exactly that.

If you're enjoying Diary, you should pick up the other two. Usually, all these later stories are collected in one volume (my copy is called Letters From The Earth and Other Stories).

Edited, but can't get touchstone to work right.

març 29, 2007, 12:28pm

myshelves; I agree. Nihilist and also blasphemous are from Updike's Foreword. Being a Brit, and hearing some of what comes across from the US now, I used transgressive to suggest how the text might be perceived by the MSM there.

9days; I'm looking forward to reading them. Must put in a word for Huck. The opening chapter is how a yankee should brush off the old world, rather than with lame neocon rhetoric.

Editat: març 29, 2007, 12:42pm


I've been under the impression that Twain had little patience with religion for most of his adult life. I thought that the writings you mention were produced late in life because he was no longer worrying about getting published to earn a living, pay off debts, etc.

It has been quite a while since I last read any biographies, or his letters, so I may be mistaken. Can someone help out?

Edited to add: Innocents Abroad was written before he met his wife, and contains some choice sarcasm about religious notions and relics.

març 29, 2007, 12:53pm


There were definately shades of religious pessimism in his earlier work, but nothing like the outright contempt displyed in the later work.

I think that earlier on, there were hints of dissatisfaction with religion (Christianity specifically), but later on he was really able to voice his opinions, and pinpoint exactly what he disliked. The later stuff also showed a strong disapproval of humanity in general.

By the end, it seemed that any hope he had for man was completely gone, and that paved the way for some pretty scathing criticism.

Of course, not being a fan of earlier Twain, and not having given that period in depth study, it could be that I missed the religious dissatisfaction.

març 29, 2007, 1:30pm

I think it was more a matter of feeling free to express his opinions. There were complaints about Huck and Tom as it was. When he had a living to make, a family to support, those creditors to pay off (in spite of the bankruptcy judgment), he couldn't afford to have his books banned and be charged with blasphemy.

Btw, it wasn't just Christianity. In one of the biographies there's an account of his wife's death. Says that she told him that he'd been right all along --- no afterlife, no heaven or hell --- and that he was appalled that he'd convinced her just in time to make her unhappy on her deathbed.

abr. 23, 2007, 12:59am

If you want the ultimate Twain-is-pessimistic-about-humanity story, I think you need to read What is Man?, where he argues that man is merely a machine.