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On the Decay of the Art of Lying

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,012 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
On the Decay of the Art of Lying is a short essay written by Mark Twain in 1885 for a meeting of the Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford, Connecticut. In the essay, Twain laments the dour ways in which men of America's Gilded Age employ man's 'most faithfull friend'. He concludes by insisting that: "the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thou ...more
Kindle Edition, 6 pages
Published (first published 1882)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tatuu
Jul 18, 2014 Tatuu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, mark-twain
Heyo Liars!!!!

"Lying is universal—we all do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely,not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed
...more
jamie
Mar 03, 2011 jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short, clever and true. All of us lie but twain urges us to lie in ways that will build each other up-not tear each other down. Reading this book made me think about all the times I have lied to make someone feel better about themselves. I hate lying though and when I do compliment someone I usually mean it. But there are certain situations when it is necessary to not say what you really mean. For example is someone is very late and you having been sitting there for 30 min and they didn't even b ...more
Nithesh Satish
May 25, 2016 Nithesh Satish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won't consider this as a book. It is a small essay available on Kindle. I used to feel guilty about lying or angry about others lying to me. This makes me feel good about harmless lies that make others happy
S©aP
Nov 11, 2013 S©aP rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Piccoli saggi, da piccola editoria. Talvolta, entrare nel laboratorio di un genio può essere interessante. Avvicinare invece le prolusioni marginali di uno scrittore, pur bravo, aggiunge poco. Resta interesse monografico, da studioso o cultore. Credo, oltretutto, che la ricerca spasmodica di qualcosa da pubblicare a ogni costo, oggi ingolfi un mercato già strabordante di inutilità, e non giovi all'intrattenimento letterario.
Vipassana
Feb 16, 2015 Vipassana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of course there are people who think they never lie, but it is not so - and this ignorance is one of the very things that shame our so called civilisation.

What a fun read! I've thought for a while now that there is a rather wearisome need to be honest all the time. In relationships, there is the almost tyrannical need for honesty, as though it were a mark of the quality of the relationship. Having been the demanding despot at some point of time, this essay gave me an opportunity to laugh at myse
...more
Erica Leigh
I've never heard of anyone arguing
for dishonesty, but this essay/novella
made sense. Mark Twain basically says
that lying is good, so long as its intentions
are good. And it's true--everyone does lie. It's
human nature. Twain goes as far as to say that
it's beneficial in relationshis.

An interesting, entertaining, short read!
Christopher Matthias
If Mark Twain were alive today he'd be Stephen Colbert. His writing is funny and wry. This short book/essay is a testimony to his social observation, wisdom and wit. If you don't come away from this reading saying "I'm a liar, and I hope to become better at lying" you are either in need of a humor transplant or a terrible liar.
Steve mitchell
Nov 04, 2014 Steve mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Facetious and fun

this is Mark twain running wild with wit. funny and over the top, hyperbole at its finest.

quick short essay
Victoria
Short essay that is both witty and entertaining.
Kacey
Apr 13, 2015 Kacey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit I have never read any of Mark Twain's non-fictional works, but I am a big fan of satirical essays. Jonathan Swift's is probably more well-known, and I certainly remember studying it in school, but I think Twain's deserves more attention. Especially since this essay holds a lot of truth to it.

Everybody lies about something. It's just human nature to do so, whether you are sparing someone's feelings or blowing an event out of proportion or any number of things, lying is simply part of life
...more
Julie
Oct 19, 2014 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Z
Shelves: essay, non-fiction, ebook
"Lying is universal--we all do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high ...more
Zach Patterson
Mar 19, 2014 Zach Patterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Children and fools always speak the truth.
Maria
Apr 05, 2016 Maria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Because Twain was a very peculiar character, it gets really hard to tell whether he is joking or not when he says things like "One ought always to lie, when one can do good by it" or "The wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; (...) Then shall we be rid of the rank and pestilent truth that is rotting the land; then shall we be great and good and beautiful, and worthy dwellers in a world where even benig ...more
Tomson Titus
Mar 23, 2013 Tomson Titus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Mark Twain puts forward a great argument for judicious lying. He almost says its our duty as a polite society to lie judiciously.
Peggy
Apr 14, 2011 Peggy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read; short and amusing; painfully true - worth reading again; read on my Android on my 30 minute lunch break;
Matthew
Evokes some thoughtfulness on the idea of what a lie is and how it should be used, but that is about all. Twain attempts to bring some clarity to the idea of how a lie is best used, but he fails to do so. In his defense, this is an issue so dependent upon personal opinion to which it becomes difficult to form an argument significant enough to convince someone who disagrees. I still feel this is a bold and respectable effort on Twains part, and he probably did about as best he could in forming th ...more
wally
Jan 29, 2011 wally rated it really liked it
this is a short sweet and to the point little piece of writing that ought to make anyone feel good who is exasperated with all the lying cheating thievin no good two-tiimin back-stabbin mind-boggling events that one may be concerned about....

...like, demon-possession. say you're all riled up about demon-possession, what w/the goings on around the world, all the shape-changers and fruit-loop peddlers you're likely to see, say, if you turn on the evening news, any national network brand and then s
...more
Alec
Oct 29, 2014 Alec rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I know that I enjoyed it and have thought quite a bit about it since, I am embarrassed to say that I can not tell whether this essay is serious or satirical. Perhaps that is a testament to Twain's ability to argue either side of an issue, but it has certainly left me wondering whether he truly believed what he was saying here. I went into it assuming it was satire, and I am still leaning in that direction, but he sure does a good job of presenting the other side of things.
Ahmed Xahabi
Jun 06, 2015 Ahmed Xahabi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"everyone lies, at every day and every night and at every minute of every hour, forget about the white lies, when I'm having an excruciating chest pain and someone walks on on me greetings me, the custom is that I should say something like; "oh I'm glad to see you at this moment" while the truth is I would much rather I say; " I hope your with cannibals and its Happy Dinner time!!"

Looooool boy someone sure got on Twain's toe the day he wrote this
ShaLisa
Note that this book was not about the decay of lying but in the decay of the art of it. I liked it. Twain says all people lie and anyone who says they do not lie is fooled by their own righteous indignation. He also claims that lying is good to society as a whole because artful lying builds moral and credits others in purpose of strengthening their character. However, profitable lying takes art and that is the part that is beginning to get lost.
Scot
Jun 27, 2014 Scot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short after dinner speech by the renowned nineteenth century humorist Mark Twain written for a Hartford men's club. It's a quick read, a free download on Kindle, and you get the droll concept from the title: everyone lies, so do it with some panache and in a salutary manner. As one sentence put it: "An awkward, unscientific lie is often as ineffectual as the truth."
Geet George
Jun 06, 2016 Geet George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Apparently, Gregory House isn't the first to utter the words "Everybody lies". It may be a figment of his own thoughts, but undoubtedly, he was not the first one to express it. Twain says it better, explains it better and glides through the topic like a master, giving us also glimpses of his expertise in the field, within the essay itself.
Gary
Feb 23, 2014 Gary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read several books by Mark Twain and his writing is very varied and entertaining. This short essay was free off Amazon and this humorous read discusses on the lost art of lying and the many different ways that people lie. Mark Twain's work has lasted the test of time and in this modern world I still think his work is worth reading.
Zhang Stanley
I don't know if I read the same version as this one because what I read is a short essay of 3 pages long but this is a hardcover book of 32 pages. Anyway, I thought someone would write about such things that's why I went to search "the art of lying" on Google and was delighted to see the name Mark Twain.
Zari
Apr 02, 2016 Zari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, short-story
مسلمآ كسانی هستند كه خيال می كنند هرگز دروغ نمی گويند. ولی به هيچ وجه چنين نيست . جهالت آنها يكی از ننگين ترين موضوعات تمدن دروغی ماست همه كس دروغ می گويد ، در هر روز و در هر ساعت ، در خواب و بيداری ، در عزا و شادی. اگر زبان حركت نمی كند دست ها و پاها و چشم ها و رفتار قصد فريب دارند...!

Kerry Laird
Jan 28, 2014 Kerry Laird rated it really liked it
Ol' Tongue in Cheek Twain at His Best

It would have been nice to know more about the organization to which this speech was being given (or essay read), for the allusions to their unscrupulous morals are rife throughout the piece. Otherwise, this is classic satire justifying the lies that heal, the lies that uplift, the lies that promote goodwill.
Val Jones
Dec 25, 2014 Val Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic Twain

As always, Twain is making fun of all of you and you don't even know it, but of course not me. Oh yes, I too am guilty of whatever human weakness he is satirizing today, but I am in on his joke! Or so he makes me feel every time. Brilliant.
Jenna
Sep 06, 2015 Jenna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could have met Mark Twain. His writing makes me actually laugh out loud, and it just seems like he would be an incredibly entertaining persona, with this work feeding right into that. I'd really like to have seen how the delivery of this went over in person!
Ariza Zubia
Aug 11, 2015 Ariza Zubia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-reads
This is but the second book of which I have successful read in one sitting of a day. My only disappointment, though understandable and therefore excused is that I wish it were a longer more extensive read. Yet, overall I think it a most wonderful piece.
Rebekah
Nov 20, 2014 Rebekah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"An injurious lie is an commendable so is an injurious truth... We are lies and there are no exceptions."

He isn't against lying, just to lie gracefully. Also knowing which are good lies and lies that should never be told.

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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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“The wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling.” 22 likes
“Children and fools always speak the truth.” 9 likes
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