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Letters from the Earth

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  5,450 ratings  ·  356 reviews
Letters from the Earth is one of Mark Twain's posthumously published works. The essays were written during a difficult time in Twain's life; he was deep in debt and had lost his wife and one of his daughters. The book consists of a series of short stories, many of which deal with God and Christianity. The title story consists of letters written by the archangel Satan to ar ...more
Hardcover, 108 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Ezreads Publications, LLC (first published 1962)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Steve
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.
Julia
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
...more
Ben
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
Ben
Mar 14, 2007 Ben rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Seth
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
Писма от Земята, писма до разума: http://knigolandia.info/book-review/p...

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
...more
Darrell
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
Kelly
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...
Arthur Brady
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
...more
Ana-maria
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: http://www.online-literature.com/twai...
Lamski Kikita
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
Val
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
Arian
Mar 30, 2007 Arian rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Miramira Endevall
Excerpt:

"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
...more
Oscar
Conocido también como el testamento antirreligioso de Mark Twain (1835-1910), fue publicada mas de 50 años despues de su muerte, en 1962, luego de haber leído su contenido, podría entender las razones.
Me parece que leí una edición distinta a la presente en la cual escribo mi crítica. Como sea me parece que Cartas desde la Tierra, debe ser leído como una perspectiva más del enigmático Dios del cristiano, depende del lector el criterio nuevo que tenga después de su lectura, porque bien puede dene
...more
Becky
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.
Jon
A hilarious book comprised of the letters of an angel banished to Earth. While filling in his angel compatriots as to the happenings on the earth, he highlights the absurdities of human belief systems. Considered blasphemous in its day (and probably by many today), it deftly dissects many fallacies inherent in various religious beliefts.

In my eyes, a great writer inspires jealousy in those who read their works. Twain has always made me jealous.
Soňa
Woaw, didn't expect to get what I did :-)

This book is funny, sarcastic, ironic in all the right ways to show reader that world is not as peachy as it looks like. Always thought about Mark Twain as serious writer and now I had to correct my views. Paperback perfect for bag with easy to understand text which on other hand persuade you to think more than you sometimes wish.

Very entertaining account of how Satan or one of the angels closes to God is banished to world of Earth and what he encounters
...more
Nancy
I first read this as a church-every-Sunday teen in the 1960's. It struck me as so original and so true. I recently poked through it again now that I am in my mid-sixties and found it somewhat mixed. The piece titled "Letter to the Earth" is still great as are enough other pieces that I am still giving it five stars.
Jason
This book seemed more like 4 books in one. The only thing that ties these stories together is the satirical tone. The stories also range in quality. The letters from earth are some of the funniest and revealing writings I've ever read on religion. Along with the letter from the prayer division in heaven to the magnate was the highlight of this book. However there are some really flat boring stories including the last 40 pages of the book. The story from the microscope slide, written as if its Mo ...more
Jessiqa
This is a collection of short pieces written by Twain and unpublished until 1938. As a fan of Twain, this is fantastic. I first learned about this set years ago when sorting through some old LIFE magazines at the local library. There was a title story about the first publication of these unpublished works. I spent some time reading the selection in LIFE when I should have been working on continuing to sort magazines and have had a desire to read the whole thing ever since.

The title story was th
...more
Alicia
I was half way through the book before I realized that the editor was giving us a glance into the person, the author and how he went about the task of writing. Satan's letter may offend some but it feels to be true Twain thinking. He takes the hat pin and punctures the balloon of our illusions but he doesn't stop there, Mark goes on to ridicule our illusions. Very nicely done and very short. This book mainly complies different writings that Twain experimented with. Some of this I found depressin ...more
Emily Kemme
Twain at his sardonic best. The book is made up of vignettes, snippets of his thoughts, almost written as if it were a modern-day blogger. Many of the stories stick with you, rising up in subconscious moments.
Sarah Sammis
The essay on Cooper's prose style (or lack there of) made me go read the Deerslayer. Twain was right on that. I also remember a story about the worlds most annoying poem or some such involving a ticket taker.
Anand
Brilliant. The failure and hypocrisy of religion and out puny imagination of God, Heaven and Hell leaves mankind exposed and ordinary.
Jackie
Mark Twain mocking God. It doesn't get any better than this (although I am pretty sure I am going to hell for reading it).
Jessica
A must read for any one who appreciates Twain.
Izumen
Смях се на глас!!!
sologdin
Lovely. Shares the problem common to the subgenre of alternate biblical history insofar as writer tends to lose initiative as it goes on and cuts off short. This one makes it through some important Pentateuch scenes (and some of the other texts in the collection have a focus on theology, such as the diary of Adam & Eve, and the response of a bureaucratic angel to prayer petitions). It's similar in this regard to God the Ultimate Autobiography and Saramago's Cain, both of which are cursory in ...more
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Letters from the Earth/Mark Twain 8 49 Nov 12, 2014 06:18AM  
What's The Name o...: Looking for a possible Mark Twain book [s] 3 33 Jan 21, 2012 10:53PM  
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  • Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist
  • The Complete Short Stories
  • I Burn Paris
  • I Can't Go On, I'll Go On: A Samuel Beckett Reader
  • Women Without Superstition: No Gods--No Masters: The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
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  • The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason
  • Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott
  • Great Short Works
  • The Devil's Dictionary and Other Works
1244
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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“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.”
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“The difference between a Miracle and a Fact is exactly the difference between a mermaid and a seal.” 58 likes
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