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The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories

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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  827 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Nine tales showcase Twain's wit as he skewers greed and hypocrisy—and makes a memorable, tormenting statement on evil.

The celebrated jumping frog of Calaveras County (1865)
The facts concerning the recent carnival of crime in Connecticut (1876)
The stolen white elephant (1882)
Luck (1891)
The £1,000,000 bank-note (1893)
The man that corrupted Hadleyburg (1899)
The five boons of...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 3rd 2004 by Signet Classics (first published 1916)
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Community Reviews

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Johnny Waco
I've always heard that Twain became increasingly bitter and misanthropic towards the end of his life, but I didn't understand how true that really was until I read The Mysterious Stranger. In this posthumously published novella, a sleepy Austrian village is visited by Satan, an angel who is the nephew of the more famous, evil Satan. Satan in some ways acts as a mouthpiece for Twain, objectively pointing out how the human race is defined by fear, lies, betrayal, suspicion, and cowardice; perhaps...more
Evan
"The Mysterious Stranger," closer in size to a novella, takes up more than half of the book. It is the real gem of this collection and for me, by far, the best piece here.

(The four stories in this Dover Thrift Edition, a very easy to find edition btw, span Twain's earliest popularity to his last days, and have greed as a common theme.)

"The Mysterious Stranger" is a very odd story. Satan (or, at least his minion nephew, a surrogate dark angel as presented here) is more or less the hero; humankind...more
Alli
Loved "The 1,000,000 Pound Note." Best story of the book.
Didn't know Mark Twain could get so dark about religion as he gets with "The Mysterious Stranger," published after his death. I am sure that in its time it was offensive and likely passed off as rubbish. I think he's onto some stuff there.
I mean, a lot of people do live in herd mentality, otherwise the Spanish Inquisition and Salem Witch Trials (to name a few) would not have happened. More recently, the Red Scare. The point is that people...more
Lisa
For readers who know Twain only through his often quoted witticisms and works such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer many of the stories in this book will come as a bit of a shock. The volume begins with the folksy "Famous Jumping Frog" and ends with the surreal novella The Mysterious Stranger. Between the writing of the two, Twain would suffer failure and losses which twisted his already cynical view of mankind into a nearly warped vision. Along the way he seemed to lose much of his good-humored...more
Gale
TALES TO TWEAK MAN'S VANITY, HIS SANITY AND HIS SOUL

This interesting anthology presents the gamut of Twains fertile genius in eight tales of varying lengths: from a few pages to a true novella. The editor has chosen both humorous and serious stories: those which satirize and even critiicze. Tales which will entertain and make readers reflect, or cause them to react with anger and even shock.
Whatever the author's goal, his writing will evoke strong emotions.
Either way: gone is the laid-back Missi...more
Matt Kovalcik
“There is nothing in the world like a persuasive speech to fuddle the mental apparatus and upset the convictions and debauch the emotions of an audience not practiced in the tricks and delusions of oratory.” –-- Mark Twain, “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg”

Crotchety, and sadly brimming with weltschmerz, the series of stories put together in this little book just drip of that world-weariness. A linear progression: over time, Mark Twain grew cynical, contemplative, and even a bit negative, but s...more
Ann
Mark Twain, well-known for Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, is perhaps less well-known by the general populace for his witty and biting commentaries on human nature and society. The Mysterious Stranger is just such a story. Set in 17th century Austria, The Mysterious Stranger tells the story of three teenage boys who encounter a boy named Philip Traum, aka Satan (not THE Satan, Philip claims, but his nephew). Philip is an angel and lacks what he terms "The Moral Sense." Which makes for some interesting...more
Mark LaMountain
The short stories are just good, funny, yet dynamic Twain tales. The longer story, The Mysterious Stranger, is a masterpiece, one of the greatest pieces of literature I have ever read. The wonderful writing coupled with the explosive conclusion make this a gem. It carefully guides the reader through a journey of small mental revelations, building upon them until the beautiful realization at the end, bringing them readily to an idea that would ordinarily take a person a lifetime to arrive upon an...more
Lucas
A great collection. Worth it for "The Mysterious Stranger" and "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg" alone. My understanding is that this version of "Mysterious Stranger" is basically a fraud, or at the least the final parts of it are. The story is cobbled together from several manuscripts, and some elements of the conclusion were completely fabricated after Twain's death - but you can read the original manuscripts elsewhere, and this rendition is just as good an introduction to the story as any o...more
Maria
The Mysterious Stranger is singularly absent of Twain's usual humor, but his wonderful ability to alter the reader's perspective in areas previously taken for granted, such as one's views on good and evil, is patently present. The "other stories" fortunately were humorous and lighthearted and went a long way to lifting the depressions of the Mysterious Stranger.
Tom
"Bitter and anti-religious" is accurate, but as I was reading The Mysterious Stranger I can't say I disagreed too much with Twain. It's not like the eight shorter stories in the book are all cheery and light, though. Humorous, yes, but they certainly have some bite.

Anyway, hadn't read any Twain in years - maybe since high school - so this was a delight.
Ash
Jul 02, 2012 Ash marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: box-4
The Mysterious Stranger and Other Tales (Signet classics) by Mark Twain (1962)
Charles
This is an old and seemingly obscure (I had to add it to the Goodreads database myself) volume of a book series called The Complete Works of Mark Twain. The Mysterious Stranger was his final, unfinished book, published after his death in a version that according to wikipedia turned out to be stitched together with pieces added by another author.

The Mysterious Stranger is a rather interesting philosophical novel in which a supernatural boy named Satan disrupts a small town. While Satan does many...more
An Odd1
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3186 1898 finished by editors of "Collected Works". Strange, but memorable, so upped rating, depends on if other Twain better.

1 The Mysterious Stranger
In medieval Austrian village, naive narrator Theodor Fischer, son of the church organist, with pals judge's son Nikolaus and innkeeper's son Seppi, meet angel Satan 16K years old, nephew to first fallen angel. "He had new and good clothes on, and was handsome and had a winning face and a pleasant voice, and was eas...more
Josephus FromPlacitas
This is a collection of four stories slapped together, unified (I guess) by the appearance of "magical" sums of money coming into the hands of the characters. I didn't love this nearly as much as I loved Letters From the Earth, it didn't have the same free feeling that pulled me in and kept me riveted.

But it was by no means bad: the bitter working-over Sammy Clemens gives public piety and religious puffery is certainly enjoyable, but sometimes the prose was a bit of a slog, particularly in par...more
Alina
This is an excellent collection of stories by one of the most clever and witty classic American writers. It's a treat to read stories written over Twain's lifetime, seeing how both the world and his own views on the world were changing, shaping his stories. I particularly enjoyed "The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival," in which the protagonists' conscience appears to him in tangible form and taunts him, the clear role of a conscience. It is no surprise that a man's conscience dictates how he...more
Seestars
I'm somewhere between glad I read this and actually liking the book. I listened to it on CD and the voice actor was very dry and practically put me to sleep. Also, almost all the stories focus on greed and how money is the devil's instrument. Interesting perspective. But leaves an overly bitter taste when you string all the stories together.

This book came into my life at a very appropriate time. One of my husband's co-workers stole intellectual property for a chance at financial gain. This is al...more
Emily
Though Twain intended this to be anti-religious, I found it to be just the opposite, almost C.S. Lewis-esque. In his attempts to use Satan as a way to show how depressing and pathetic humans are, I came away with an increased understanding of just what a liar Satan is. He was exactly how we learn he is from the scriptures, full of half-truths and completely unreliable, not showing up to support his followers in the end, when they really "need" him, and a smooth talking, attractive flatterer too....more
matt
Dec 30, 2010 matt rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to matt by: vonnegut, the coolest book club ever
i don't usually indulge in short stories. in my experience they tend to rely on twilight zone-twist endings that only serve to prove how clever the author thinks he is. and while twain is obviously above that, i have to admit that certain of these stories appealed to me more than others, a couple of the endings went over my head. (the stolen white elephant; was it heaven? or hell?)

worse, i hated the ending of the main story, in which a compelling narrative dissolves into a semi-philosophical, se...more
Dave
"The Million Pound Bank Note" is cute, unexpectedly O'Henry-ish from Twain. "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg" is awesome. "The Mysterious Stranger" was a bit bleak.
Dann
A very strange, but wonderfully written story. Great characters. Decent setting. Short 'n sweet, able to be read over and over.
Chris
A nice collection of four short stories by Mark Twain. The first two, The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and The 1,000,000 Pound Bank-Note, are more on the humorous side, while the last two, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and The Mysterious Stranger, focus more on human nature and its faults. Of the four, The Mysterious Stranger stands out as my favorite. I found it interesting that even though Satan causes many to die, he makes some really good points about how we treat each othe...more
Todd Moore
interesting perspective. I wonder how he came to them.
Nile
brilliant and thought provoking......
Kimberlyluisi
Great. And I hate short stories.
Cindy Tey92
Jan 06, 2011 Cindy Tey92 is currently reading it
Shelves: 06-01-2011
1. The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country

Simon Wheeler and Smiley are both peculiar .
From the beginning of story , Simon is only narrativing about Smiley.
Till ... the almost last part of the story.
Smiley , is a weird person because he catches dogs , flies and any animals and wishes to train them to sing ,to talk ,and to etc like a human. Finally , he successfully trains his frog . Its name is Webster.

The author doesn't mention the person - Smiley , does exist on the Earth or not.
Becca
This collection of short stories provides great insight into Twain's mind and his sense of right and wrong. From the man who wanted to corrupt a town that prided itself on it's honesty, to the women who learned that it was sometimes better to lie with their lips than their lives, to 3 boys who meet an angel called Satan, this book is full of amusing and interesting stories. I would definitely recommend it especially to those who enjoy Twain's writing and who wish to learn more about him.
Alicedewonder
within this text are 2 stories i recommend. was it Heaven? Or Hell? is the perfect prelude short-short story to the 150 pages of the mysterious stranger, a story i read at least once a year. it will turn your entire way of life on its head and you will begin to really live!
MARK TWAIN NAILED THE HUMAN SPECIES THIS TIME! THE GLOVES ARE OFF NO MORE CHILDREN STORIES http://hubpages.com/hub/THE-GREATEST-...
Molly
Reeeeaaaalllly small print. And for work. When I'm scheduled for jury duty. So I have to read it and give the cliffs notes version to a co-worker. Sigh. Not. Looking. Forward to this one.

Well, book club canceled because of jury duty and no one else wanting to have to read the book. So... I read the jumping frog story- classic Twain, not bad. Just no real desire to read the rest of it. Too many other books on my plate.
Tori
One star, or two? One point five, if I could do it, actually. I think mark Twain fails as far as short stories go. They were pointless (especially the Mysterious Stranger, what a downer!) The only thing that moved up the stars was the first story, The 100 Pound Note (or whatever it's called, something along those lines) That one was at least interesting, with a good ending. The others I could have lived without.
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Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also work...more
More about Mark Twain...
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Adventures of Tom Sawyer The Prince and the Pauper A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“There has never been a just [war], never an honorable one--on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful--as usual--will shout for the war. The pulpit will--warily and cautiously--object--at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, 'It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it.' Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers--as earlier--but do not dare say so. And now the whole nation--pulpit and all--will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.” 77 likes
“And what does it amount to?" said Satan, with his evil chuckle. "Nothing at all. You gain nothing; you always come out where you went in. For a million years the race has gone on monotonously propagating itself and monotonously reperforming this dull nonsense--to what end? No wisdom can guess! Who gets a profit out of it? Nobody but a parcel of usurping little monarchs and nobilities who despise you; would feel defiled if you touched them; would shut the door in your face if you proposed to call; whom you slave for, fight for, die for, and are not ashamed of it, but proud; whose existence is a perpetual insult to you and you are afraid to resent it; who are mendicants supported by your alms, yet assume toward you the airs of benefactor toward beggar; who address you in the language of master to slave, and are answered in in the language of slave to master; who are worshiped by you with your mouth, while in your heart--if you have one--you despise yourselves for it. The first man was hypocrite and a coward, qualities which have not yet failed in his line; it is the foundation upon which all civilizations have been built. Drink to their perpetuation! Drink to their augmentation! Drink to--" Then he saw by our faces how much we were hurt, and he cut his sentence short and stopped chuckling...” 27 likes
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