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Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  6,615 Ratings  ·  409 Reviews
"I have told you nothing about man that is not true." You must pardon me if I repeat that remark now and then in these letters; I want you to take seriously the things I am telling you, and I feel that if I were in your place and you in mine, I should need that reminder from time to time, to keep my credulity from flagging.

In Letters from the Earth, Twain presents himself

Paperback, 321 pages
Published February 17th 2004 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1962)
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Jul 25, 2008 Steve rated it it was amazing
Satan's letters written during a visit to Earth, this is Mark Twain at his most cynical and offensive. This is a far cry from C.S. Lewis, perhaps even a Bizarro reflection. Long before today's crop of posturing, pompous-ass religious critics, Twain did it better, faster and funnier. For those who like their humor dark as unsweetened cocoa.
Nov 15, 2010 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is our next book club selection, and I'm loving it as much this second reading as I did when I first found this little gem over 30 years ago. Twain had said it couldn't be published, and I can see why. Not many in his time period would have liked the idea of Satan being on earth and writing scathing satirical letters back to his buddies in "heaven" about the condition of humankind.

This is a thin little volume, but my version is getting lots of highlighting. His criticism of humanity is as t
May 17, 2008 Ben rated it liked it
Cynics bow down before the idol of your seething ire! Mark Twain's critique of the Earth's entanglement with religion as told by an oft-banished-bad-boy-of-heaven we all know (but not so well as we thought) singes eyelashes at times. A series of letters written by Satan himself during a term of expulsion from heaven depict the sad hilarity of mankind's relationship with it's creator. Satan's outside perspective yields Twain an opportunity to express his deep criticism of god-fearing culture. It ...more
Mar 14, 2007 Ben rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of twain and counter-culture
Shelves: americana, humor
This book is a varied collection of Mark Twain's later writings, from a period traditionally overlooked by American students but intensely scrutinized in Europe. The titular "Letters from the Earth" series include wry and mildly heretical musings on Biblical lore, Christian cosmology, and human nature in general. These were indeed the basis for a rather creepy children's Claymation TV show in the 80s called "The Adventures of Mark Twain," the sort of thing that nowadays would get program directo ...more
David Withun
Jun 10, 2012 David Withun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
There's nothing quite like reading Mark Twain that helps one to remember what American literature could and should be, but, unfortunately, isn't. Mark Twain was the best America has ever produced. Satire as a literary genre might as well not exist today when compared with that of Twain. This particular book is a collection of perhaps simultaneously some of the funniest, most insightful, most uncomfortably true, and most challenging short stories and essays that Twain wrote. Forget Colbert and St ...more
Jul 28, 2015 Tristram rated it really liked it
“The first time the Deity came down to earth, he brought life and death; when he came the second time, he brought hell.”

Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth, which were written under the influence of various blows fate dealt him, like the deaths of his 24-year old daughter Suzy from spinal meningitis in 1896 and of his wife Olivia in1904, never saw publication during their author’s lifetime, probably because they were considered as heavy stuff even with regard to what could be expected of a satir
Aug 31, 2016 Richard rated it really liked it
This is bitter Twain at his darkest.

In essence he takes the view that Nature is so filled with irrational horror and pain that existence is hardly worth having. Humankind is not much better as its members thrive on stupid contradictions and cruelty. The Bible is filled with thousands of lies and Jesus Christ was himself a sadistic liar.

In such a cosmos God is incredibly stupid, evil, or non-existent. That last is the most comforting thought as it at least allows human beings to concentrate on
May 24, 2012 Anand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. The failure and hypocrisy of religion and out puny imagination of God, Heaven and Hell leaves mankind exposed and ordinary.
In the last year I've taken great care in crafting my reading goals towards something that will satisfy my need to be a more thoroughly educated guy. I've been an avid reader since my early teens, and as a byproduct I've gained a relatively good grasp of many key books. However, lately the gaps in my education have really become a bother. It is with that said, that I put forward Mark Twain as exhibit A: Letters from the Earth is my first substantial introduction to him. I think I read Tom Sawyer ...more
Христо Блажев
Mar 23, 2013 Христо Блажев rated it it was amazing
Писма от Земята, писма до разума:

Не очаквах. Знаех в общи линии, че в “Писма от Земята” Марк Твен погромява религията, но чак до такава степен изненада дори мен – сред тези кратки страници великият сатирик е по-мощен и краен от представимото – ироничен, циничен, саркастичен, откровен, направо жлъчен… и страница след страница карикатуризира и пародира християнството и персонажите от бибилията. Воглаве с това, Твен осмива и съвременната цивилизация във вида
Jan 06, 2010 Darrell rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
The way Mark Twain pokes fun at Christianity, it's no wonder these writings were originally censored. In Letters from the Earth, Satan reports back to heaven in a series of epistles making light of religion. He explains that Noah and his family were all disease ridden, since God's command to preserve two of every animal also applied to microbes. God, in his infinite wisdom, saw that diseases such as syphilis would be necessary in the world to come. I've got to say, picturing Noah going around an ...more
Lamski Kikita
Jan 01, 2012 Lamski Kikita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could write a long review of this amazing and shocking book. Mark like I've never seen him before; the Mark I always wanted to hear more from and did not find in his stories of mischievous childhoods in the Mississippi. But i won't write that long review, instead, i will sub it up in the following sentence: Man is a mistake. The human race, basically, is the most horrible species that ever dwelled this earth. We kill, torture, pass judgment, discriminate, and do the worst things possible with ...more
Bob Schnell
May 25, 2016 Bob Schnell rated it really liked it
After reading the 3 volumes of Mark Twain's autobiography I have been interested in reading everything else outside of his well-known catalog. "Letters from the Earth" was also published posthumously and his daughter Clara delayed publication until 1962 to prevent potential embarrassment to the family. It is a collection of essays and short works, some not even finished. The bulk of the writings concern Satan's letters to the other angels about God's latest creations. It is reminiscent of C.S. L ...more
Apr 22, 2014 Kelly rated it really liked it
Okay- after reading this... I so wish I could have sat down with this man and that I could have shared a drink and a chat with him. He was so witty and clever. Hilarious. He must have been something else...
Feb 26, 2015 Jake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of writings that Mark Twain didn't publish in his lifetime. The best parts were the sections where Mark Twain translated the ancient diaries of the Adam Family (as in Adam and Eve). Here is an excerpt from the conversation Adam and Eve had after they were forbidden the fruit...

"Good and evil?"
"What is that?"
"What is what?"
"Why, those things. What is good?"
"I do not know. How should I know?"
"Well, then, what is evil?"
"I suppose it is the name of something, but I do not
Arthur Brady
Jan 03, 2011 Arthur Brady rated it really liked it
i should note that i didn't read this edition. i wanted to give the text 4 stars, because it's a great (if apparently unfinished) collection of essays.

be warned, though, of the edition that i did get: it's the one that first pops up on an amazon search (at least, during the current time period, it's the first: this review may have an expiration date); it's got a green cover and two goofy red Satanic eyes staring out from the top, published by "Greenbook Publications, LLC."

it's a crime against Tw
Jan 24, 2016 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: kurzgeschichte
This collection of largely unpublished material is the most impressive contribution to books by Mark Twain after "The Mysterious Stranger" of 1916, with which it shares an imaginative grandeur. Mark Twain thought, while he was alive, he was going to terrify the world with a metaphysical masterpiece, "What Is Man?" (1917), but that book is mostly unreadable. However, he included similar ideas in both "The Mysterious Stranger" and Letters From the Earth, and they are both better books as they demo ...more
Miramira Endevall
Sep 14, 2009 Miramira Endevall rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own

"Now there you have a sample of man's "reasoning powers," as he calls them. He observes certain facts. For instance, that in all his life he never sees the day that he can satisfy one woman; also, that no woman ever sees the day that she can't overwork, and defeat, and put out of commission any ten masculine parts that can be put to bed to her. [Man:] puts those strikingly suggestive and luminous facts together, and from them draws this astonishing conclusion: The Creator intended the wo
Feb 23, 2014 Ana-Maria rated it it was amazing
Reason brings the courage to take a fresh look at myths and stories in the Bible that have been used as justification for mankind actions for centuries. With a fresh view and a sharp mind, M.Twain provoked me bitter smile after bitter smile while reading Satan's letters. But a first step to break the spell has been taken, so hopefully there is no coming back to dogma and superstition afterwards....

the letters can be read here:
Jun 24, 2012 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Letters from the Earth was fantastic. I loved the writing and the way that Mark Twain shed light on the hypocrisy of religion and the human notion of God. After that section however, the book became very dull very quickly. As this book is a collection of his writings, I felt that a lot of it did not flow together. If things were tied together tighter, my rating would have been higher but I just found everything after Letters from the Earth to be highly boring.
Erick Burgos
Feb 03, 2015 Erick Burgos rated it it was amazing
An amazing book that gives the reader a different perspective about religious characters while giving the reader the feeling that these fictional characters are real. You can never go wrong with Mark Twain
Feb 03, 2016 David rated it it was amazing
This book has some of Mark Twain’s best writing, but strangely, it is not well known. Actually, it’s not strange at all. This work is not just hilarious; it’s not just brilliant prose that is remarkably energetic, intelligent, and insightful—it is wildly sarcastic, blatantly sacrilegious, blisteringly irreverent, and boldly condemning of Christian beliefs. To realize that this was written over a hundred years ago when the nation was far more religiously dogmatic and intolerant, is to realize tha ...more
Aug 27, 2016 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Twain fans
Recommended to Jason by: Craig
Shelves: mark-twain, 2016
This had some great parts, and some that were just okay. These are writings Twain didn't want published for various reasons. Some were a bit risque for his time period. (We find he's as wantonly cynical as George Carlin, though he still does it without bad language). Others were incomplete when he died. Some you could tell he just gave up on because they weren't going anywhere great. Some of the pieces were short, and made me think that this could've been Twain's blog had blogs existed back then ...more
Linda Munro
Jan 18, 2016 Linda Munro rated it really liked it
This book was recommended reading for the course I am taking through

This is not your mother’s Mark Twain, more than likely, it is nothing that you would have expected of Mark Twain. Twain left thousands of pages of notes at his death, over the years these notes would be published. Publication of this particular set of notes were rejected by his daughter who claimed they distorted her father’s view. Since there are a variety of notes, etc., utilized within the contents of this book
Feb 16, 2015 Val rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a bit of a mixed bag of Mark Twain's writings. His polemics against those who take each word of the Bible too seriously and those who pay mere lip-service to both their religious teachings and the Declaration of Independence are very much worth reading, whether you agree or not, and he is correct in saying that they could not be published in his lifetime, despite their merit and humour. There are also essays of merit, some published and some not, a children's story and some unfinished ma ...more
Caleb Narvaez
Aug 01, 2015 Caleb Narvaez rated it really liked it
There were many things I liked about this book and a few things I didnt like. The extracts from Methuselah's diary were a little confusing and the final story "The Great Dark" started out slow and then came together. Twain's 19th century context makes the excerpts a little hard to follow but his wit and intelligence more than make up for it. This book is classic Twain and is actually pretty funny in some areas, specifically, the Simplified Spelling and From an Unfinished Burlesque of Books on Et ...more
Mar 30, 2007 Arian rated it liked it
Recommends it for: thinkin' folk
This is a collection of stuff that went unpublished during Twain's life. Overall it merits about 3 stars, but is worth the price for the main work, which is easily 5 stars.

Basically, the premise is this: Satan is banished from Heaven for 1 Celestial Day (10,000 of our Earth years) for being flip to God. He ends up at one backwater world and watches with amusement as the primitive inhabitants of Earth presume to know God and think that the Creator has any special interest in them. Satan relays hi
Dec 25, 2015 Angie added it
I had never read Twain's vitriolic humorous attack on the Bible. It is REALLY scathing. I'm not sure what I think of it.
Savanah Anderson
Nov 15, 2015 Savanah Anderson rated it it was amazing
I can't even write anything that could adequately describe how brilliant this is, and it's because I'm not Mark Twain.
Julie Mickens
One of the very few books I've read three times, at least parts of it. I first read it on a plane and I could not stop cracking up. I tried to interest my seatmate, but he preferred his portable DVD player. Alas!
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Letters from the Earth/Mark Twain 8 57 Nov 12, 2014 06:18AM  
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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
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“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal... In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.

Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh--not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.”
“The difference between a Miracle and a Fact is exactly the difference between a mermaid and a seal.” 72 likes
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