Cheryl's Reviews > The Mysterious Stranger

The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain
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's review
Apr 17, 12

bookshelves: fable
Read in April, 2012

THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER is Mark Twain's final novel published in nineteen-sixteen. Twain wrote the majority of the work between eighteen-ninety and nineteen-ten, the year of his death leaving several versions of an ending. Albert Paine had sole possession of Twain's unfinished work and chose the ending of this edition.

While writing this commentary on man's existence, his moral sense, and the refutation of religious dogma, Twain suffered great loses. Three of his four children died along with his beloved wife, coupled with his own declining health and mental energy. These life scars brought deep reflection of human nature and religious hypocrisy. The result is a fable illustrating the futility of life and man's failing to see reality.

Twain states that it is strange that man has not discovered that the contents of life are only dreams, fictions, and visions. One example is a God that could make happy children but doesn't, who could have made good ones, but instead makes them bad, who could have offered an extended life, but instead cuts it short. He questions a God who gives his angels painless lives, but heaps miseries of the mind and body on children, who mouths justice but invented hell, and who frowns upon crimes, but has committed them all himself.

The author criticizes man for not using the only weapon against the evils of life...that is laughter, the only thing that can blow apart and reduce to atoms the abuse of power, money, and influence against the poor.

These observations are made through the story of several boys growing up in Austria in the Middle Ages. THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER is a relative of Satan, and he takes on the family name as well. Satan, then, is the observer of man and the explainer of the Universe in this fable about ultimate truths.

Clearly a deviation from the young Twain, but then, don't all thinkers with age look at life differently, casting aside the scales of innocence from their eyes? Highly Recommended!


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