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The Mysterious Stranger

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  6,206 Ratings  ·  429 Reviews
In his last years, Mark Twain had become a respected literary figure whose opinions were widely sought by the press. He had also suffered a series of painful physical, economic, and emotional losses.

The Mysterious Stranger, published posthumously in 1916 and belonging to Twain's "dark" period, belies the popular image of the affable American humorist. In this anti-religiou
Paperback, 121 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Prometheus Books (first published 1916)
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Bill  Kerwin
Mar 31, 2016 rated it liked it

The Mysterious Stranger is not a success. Twain never published it, and with good reason, for his approach to his title character in particular and the whole project in general is tonally ambivalent, philosophically inconsistent, and thematically scattered. Add to this the fact that the setting of the fifteenth century Austrian village is poorly realized and the ending is at best inconclusive, and you aren't left with much to praise--except for Twain's satiric observations, of course..

I believe
Brian Yahn
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
In the first act, Mark Twain introduces a mysterious stranger to town, and the way he does it is twisty and thrilling and, well... Mysterious. And then there's the antagonist, the evil Astrologer, who lives in the crumbling tower on the outskirts of town and has a man imprisoned for the sake of stealing money. To bring justice, Twain pits the stranger, with the help of a few young boys, against the Astrologer.

It's a really fun setup, but in the second act, the stranger takes the boys across the
S.A. Alenthony
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A number of Mark Twain’s lesser-known stories remain virtually unheard of - not because they aren’t good – but because they’d offend too many people.

His short novel The Mysterious Stranger, published posthumously in 1916, certainly qualifies in this regard. It’s not going to be on any of the official reading lists of the various public schools named after him. And it’s an absolutely hilarious and caustic little paperback that you need to get familiar with.

This book will be of interest to anyone
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
This is said to be Mark Twain's least known work - and the last he had ever written. Reading the book, I finally understood why it never became as popular as the stories of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyers. This is a book of a silent yet profound contemplation of humanity. It is a comedy of sorts, and the object of the author's humor is the grotesque bigotry, self-importance, and logic of man. Twain portrays humanity here at its worst. It begins with a boy's encounter with an angel and ends with his bi ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This review will contain spoilers.


The Mysterious Stranger is a short novella, in which Mark Twain, (it would seem), embodies his hatred of Christianity, condemnation of mankind, and ultimate nihilism. The story takes place in a remote village in late 16th century Austria; the village of Eseldorf, which is situated in a valley surrounded by wooded precipices and cliffs, overlooked by a castle laying on one. The inhabitants of Eseldorf are simpletons; largely ignorant of the world beyond their
Mike Sheehan
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
To me, I think problems can only begin to be solved once they're recognized as such; this could work on a societal level too. And so it genuinely saddens me that one-hundred years after Mark Twain's railing against human nature and its major institutions (government and religion), practically nothing has changed, because the things he speaks of truly are a part of human nature, as it seems. The most damning one of all is Satan's speaking of the nature of war, a conversation which could've taken ...more
Ioannis Anastasiadis
Kυνικός, σατιρικός, αλληγορικός, σκληρός επικριτής του ανθρώπινου γενους, βαθύτατα άθεος ο Mark Twain κατεβάζει στον δυσμοιρο τοπο μας αλλα περισσοτερο στα αθεραπευτα μυαλα μας τον αγγελικο ανιψιό του Εκπτωτου Σατανά για να αποδώσει μια εκ των υστερων επί Γης δικαιοσύνη, να εξιστορήσει εκ νέου τις 'υπέροχες' κατακτήσεις του ανθρώπινου πολιτισμού κ να μας παραδώσει μαθήματα αυτογνωσίας και κρισης σε ενα αφηγημα το οποιο οπως και στο δοκιμιακο 'Τhis is a man' επεξεργαζοταν για αρκετα χρονια εως οτ ...more
Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜
This was probably one of the best books I think I have read in a long time. I was NOT expecting this from the guy who wrote Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

Holy cow.

Well, I guess a guy who wrote mostly Southern novels and is considered one the best humorists in history can't always be funny. Still, I was not expecting this from Mark Twain.

In some versions of the novel, the "mysterious stranger" is either known as No. 44 or Satan. Yes, Satan. Except he's not really Satan but is instead Satan's nephew.
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Τέταρτο βιβλίο του Μαρκ Τουέιν που πέφτει στα χέρια μου, μετά τα δυο κλασικά και τρομερά βιβλία με τον Τομ Σόγιερ και τον Χακ Φιν που διάβασα το 2005, στις αρχές της εφηβείας μου δηλαδή (πως περνάνε τα χρόνια ρε!), και την νουβέλα "Ο Τομ Σόγιερ ντετέκτιβ" που διάβασα το 2010. Το μικρό αυτό μυθιστόρημα (ή, πιο σωστά, μεγάλη νουβέλα) διαφέρει αρκετά σε θεματολογία και ατμόσφαιρα με τα προαναφερθέντα βιβλία και είναι σαφέστατα για μεγαλύτερες ηλικίες. Βρισκόμαστε σ'ένα χωριουδάκι κάπου στην Αυστρία ...more
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Page 57:
Monarchies, aristocracies, and religions are all based upon that large defect in your race - the individual's distrust of his neighbor, and his desire, for safety's or comfort's sake, to stand well in his neighbor's eye. These institutions will always remain, and always flourish, and always oppress you, affront you, and degrade you, because you always be and remain slaves of minorities.

Page 63:
"What an ass you are!" he said. "Are you so unobse
Sep 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Michael by: who knows...maybe the Devil
This is a great little book. I agree with Twain's opinions to a large degree, but I cannot agree completely. I think Twain became an Atheist....I am not. I am not a believer but I still hope for a God that mankind cannot comprehend nor describe.

A very important and still timely idea expressed in this book is that humans are a lower order of animal than the wild beast because of his Moral Sense. Twain said that 95% of people are like sheep and cattle that stupidly follow the herd and are led by t
Wayne Barrett

"I know your race. It is made up of sheep. It is governed by minorities, seldom or never by majorities. It suppresses its feelings and its beliefs and follows the handful that makes the most noise.”
― Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger

Satan, the young nephew of the fallen Satan pays a visit to a few of the human race. A humorous if not indicting novella addressing the immorality of man and the futility of his existence. For a short piece, there are some powerful thoughts penned by Mr. Twain who
May 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 10
Imi placu si asta, ca (aproape) tot ce-am citit 'existentialist' pana acum. Imi place franchetea, disperarea si pana ascutita din cartile astea, desi le contrazic majoritatea ideilor apoi. (Asa ca sa nu ma intrebati de ce le mai citesc)
Dupa ce-am citit celelalte povestiri ale lui Twain, nu ma asteptam sa-l gasesc asa intunecat si pesimist in asta (majoritatea celorlalte sint amuzante, scurte, ironice ca viata si au un clenci:) ). Oricum, sa vedem:

-nepotul lui Satan, (numit tot)Satan, un inger ne
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
En una lejana aldea de un campo de Austria en el año 1590 existe un pueblo aislado del resto del mundo que vive en el Medievo, donde sus habitantes son gente supersticiosa y creyente. Tres amigos; Nicolás, Seppi y Theodoro Fischer se encuentran de repente con un personaje que cambiara sus vidas, el ángel Satán. Sobrino de Satanás, es un ser sabio, arrollador y poderoso que esté investigando a los humanos por simple curiosidad, y que es capaz de complacerlos con maravillas inimaginables. Pero la ...more
D.M. Kenyon
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
It may seem nonsensical that I would rate my favorite book with only four out of five stars. The reason for this is because, the 1916 edition of Mark Twain's Mysterious Stranger is not entirely original to Twain. Twain died in 1910 with several versions of a manuscript for the Mysterious Stranger incomplete. The versions vary considerably in setting and in story line, although they arguably seek to make the same point.

The popular version of this story was completed by his editor and, therefore,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Magrat Ajostiernos
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

Un libro que me ha hecho reflexionar como hacía tiempo que no me pasaba… Por otra parte las ilustraciones de ATAK son IMPRESIONANTES. No es un acompañamiento, es el 50 % de la historia ♥
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
با مضمون کتاب احساس نزدیکی نکردم. وگرنه که خیلی خوب خواننده رو ارادتمند شیطان و تحلیل هاش میکنه.
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Mysterious Stranger, Mark Twain
عنوان: بیگانه ای در دهکده؛ نویسنده: مارک تواین؛ مترجم: نجف دریابندری؛ یکی از صد کتابی که باید قبل از مرگ خواند؛ آخرین نشر: تهران؛ امیرکبیر، کتابهای جیبی، ۱۳۸۴
بخش هایی از کتاب: زمستان سال 1590 بود
اطریش فرسنگها دور از جهان و جهانیان در خواب غفلت فرو رفته بود، قرون وسطی هنوز در آن سرزمین ادامه داشت و آنطور که معلوم می شد خیال داشت تا ابد الدهر نیز ادامه یاید. بعضی حتی عقربه زمان را قرنها به عقب بر می گردانند، میگفتند اگر وضع فکری و روحی مردم را ملاک قضاوت قرار ده
Every Christmas, American television shows It's A Wonderful Life at least once. For many people, the movie is the Christmas must watch. (Note, not for me. That's Rudolph or Nestor the Long Eared Donkey or the Muppet Christmas Carol or Sim's Christmas Carol). In some ways, Life is the American Christmas Carol. It heavily colors views about angels too.

So, if you like It's A Wonderful Life, you shouldn't read this work.

This Kindle edition includes the title short novel as well as three short storie
Jim Thomas
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
I recently read about a few of Twain's lesser known works and this was one he wrote late in life and he is not just cynical but probably bitter when he wrote this. I thought his humor was at it's peak and Twain has always been hard on man and religion but he really gives you a double barreled literary blast with this short novel.

If you are religious and easily offended, stay away but I found Satan and his young wowed friends an absolute delight. Satan has never been described better. It's not su
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sam Strong
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For those of you who view Mark Twain as a humorist, "The Mysterious Stranger" can come as quite the surprise. Written later in life, this book demonstrates Twain's lack of faith in the human race by presenting a character named Satan. He claims not to be the one Satan we all think of; instead, he says that he is "the" Satan's nephew. But that doesn't stop him from winning the friendship of three boys, including protagonist Theodor. Satan showers them with gifts and shows them miracles, then proc ...more
Susan Bybee
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As Mark Twain got older, his always-present BS detector grew keener and keener. By the time he began work on The Mysterious Stranger, his view of the human race -- especially clergy -- was quite bitter. The title character turns out to be Satan, who travels in time to a small village in Austria during the 1590s, and charms a trio of three young boys. Superstition and ignorance run rampant in this village. Things are so backward and hopeless that Satan's presence actually makes things better. At ...more
Margaret Langstaff
Feb 09, 2012 rated it liked it
A strange and "mysterious" unfinished manuscript Twain could never bring himself to polish off. I think it reflects his deep ambivalence about the book's serious themes: good v. evil, and the abiding question of an all-merciful, all-loving, almighty God per Christianity's received tenets. He, like Thomas Jefferson, and other plain-spoken, intellectually honest, rational American "souls," couldn't swallow whole the inherent contradictions. Why create humankind as an act of love and doom it to fai ...more
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Napsané před více než sto lety a přitom tak současné. Mark Twain skrze ústa Satanova synovce peprně a nevybíravě glosuje člověka a celé lidské bytí. A že to není zrovna povzbudivé čtení, lidský rod v tomto spisku není nic, nad čím bychom se pýchou dmuli. Přitom je to hodně až bolestně pravdivé. Na to jak útlá knížka Tajemný cizinec je, má velice bohatou historii. Twain příběh několikrát rozepsal, z jeho pera existuje několik verzí, jejichž finální podoby se ani nedožil. Toto vydání je upraveno A ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This is one of the unfinished work of Mark Twain which was written in his later years. The story is written in his characteristic style which made me want to continue reading it. He tries to express his philosophic and social musings through one of the main characters "Satan" (can be thought of as an alien) in quite an interestingly and creatively woven story. Even though I was raised as a Catholic and I do believe in God, I was not offended as he is trying to raise certain social issues as well ...more
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Overall, this was a pretty masterful story. The personification of Satan and his very strong indifference was interesting to read and think about. Granted, I didn't necessarily agree with a lot of the philosophy in/behind the book, but I really appreciate the cerebral nature of it all. It's sad but not quite heartbreaking, and it's thought-proviking but not quite revolutionary. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this!
Kebrit !!!
Oct 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
شیطان گفت:
... هیچ حیوانی هرگز مرتکب عمل بیرحمانه نمیشود، این عمل منحصر به کسانی است که" قوه تمیز اخلاقی" دارند. حیوان وقتی هم آزاری میرساند، در کمال معصومیت اینکار را میکند. عمل او تباه نیست، برای آن آزار نمیرساند که صرف آزار رساندن لذت ببرد اینکار فقط از انسان سر میزند، موجب و مسبب آن هم همان قوه تمیز اخلاقی کذایی اوست
Sarah Puricelli
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dark and cynical. Yet, impressive

Making people think about what is behind our existence as humans. If you are a systematic individual, you will hate this book. This story remains unheard of because of how much it may offend. Filled with religious satire, Twain's anger and frustrations with humanity. This is a must read for the open-minded.
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Around the Year i...: The Mysterious Stranger, by Mark Twain 1 11 Sep 06, 2016 09:41AM  
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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 about Mark Twain...
“You are not you--you have no body, no blood, no bones, you are but a thought. I myself have no existence; I am but a dream--your dream, a creature of your imagination. In a moment you will have realized this, then you will banish me from your visions and I shall dissolve into the nothingness out of which you made me

In a little while you will be alone in shoreless space, to wander its limitless solitudes without friend or comrade forever—for you will remain a thought, the only existent thought, and by your nature inextinguishable, indestructible. But I, your poor servant, have revealed you to yourself and set you free. Dream other dreams, and better!

Strange! that you should not have suspected years ago—centuries, ages, eons, ago!—for you have existed, companionless, through all the eternities.

Strange, indeed, that you should not have suspected that your universe and its contents were only dreams, visions, fiction! Strange, because they are so frankly and hysterically insane—like all dreams: a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice and invented hell—mouths mercy and invented hell—mouths Golden Rules, and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites a poor, abused slave to worship him!

You perceive, now, that these things are all impossible except in a dream. You perceive that they are pure and puerile insanities, the silly creations of an imagination that is not conscious of its freaks—in a word, that they are a dream, and you the maker of it. The dream-marks are all present; you should have recognized them earlier.

"It is true, that which I have revealed to you; there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream—a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought—a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities!”
“Nothing exists; all is a dream. God—man—the world—the sun, the moon, the wilderness of stars—a dream, all a dream; they have no existence. Nothing exists save empty space—and you!” 20 likes
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