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No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger (Mark Twain Library)
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No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger (Mark Twain Library)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  351 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
Mark Twain's fantastical last novel took him twelve years--and three long drafts—to complete. Based on boyhood memories of the Mississippi River Valley and of the print shops of Hannibal, the story is set in medieval Austria at the dawn of the printing craft. It is a psychic adventure, full of phantasmagoric effects, in which a penniless printer's apprentice—a youthful, my ...more
Paperback, 212 pages
Published May 10th 2004 by University of California Press (first published 1916)
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Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I swear Bulgakov got a hold of this and picked the best parts for transmogrification into The Master & Margarita. A gigantic parade of corpses, a talking cat (Mary Margaret Florence Baker G. Nightingale), and the appearance of a banjo-playing minstrel (who in my mind looks just like Koroviev, but African American...) in the narrator's medieval Austrian print-shop. In a disused castle. So much weirder, creepier, more moving, and existentially fraught than Letters From the Earth, but with all ...more
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
I set aside my four other books "to be read" because I became so engrossed in this one. I usually don't read a book in 4 days but it was short and interesting. I thought it was clever, timeless, a book for all times, a message for yesterday, today and tomorrow; offering insights into humanity, thought provoking. If only my reviews were as good as the books.....
May 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adults
I don't know that this was meant to be a "fun" book, but I had a lot of fun with it.

I also have a lot of fun putting things in alphabetical order, so I guess you'd better beware.
erin duncan
Mar 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Phantasmagorically fantastic!
Joseph F.
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is not to be confused with The Mysterious Stranger, which was believed to be straight from Twain before it was discovered that it was cobbled together by writings that Twain left unfinished. No. 44 is one of these manuscripts that is printed here as the author left it. It actually does have an ending, but you are unfortunately left with many questions since it was left incomplete.

This is quite a story. A vagrant boy comes knocking on some old ruins that houses a printing factory. He is imm
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read the version that is in the Library of America collection, originally published in 1969 as Mark Twain's Mysterious Stranger manuscripts by William Gibson. As this book was unpublished at Twain's death, it should be viewed as unfinished. That being the case, the mess that it is is understood.

It's different from other Twain I have read, kind of Sci-Fi as was popular at the time it was written, Verne, Welles, etc, mixed with later age philosophical musings about mortally, morality, religion,
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Прочитала рассказ "История с привидением". Ну так, неплохо, но ничего особенного.
Dmitry Yakovenko
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Очень необычная ситуация сложилась с этой книгой Марка Твена. Дело в том, что автор был настолько сильно увлечен свой работой, что написал сразу несколько вариантов, события в которых происходили с разными героями и в разные временные отрезки. Они во многом отличаются друг от друга, например, одна из версий была своего рода продолжением приключений Гекльберри Финна и Тома Сойера, когда действия других происходят в средневековой Австрии. Однако очень во многом версии схожи, ведь в каждой в центре ...more
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: twain
kindle version, produced by david widger and be wolf

contents: the mysterious stranger a fable hunting the deceitful turkey the mcwilliamses and the burglar alarm

many of the other reviews mention 3 versions...3 endings i take it?...dunno what one i have.

the mytserious stranger
chapter 1, 1590-winter, austria....still the "age of belief in austria" eye-narrator...speaking of his past, "i remember it well" a boy.

the "sleep" motif....that is also present in the latter half of the 20 centur
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Twain scholars
I feel obligated to review this, since no one else has taken the time to write anything about it.

This book is an amalgamation of three different stories Mark Twain was working on in the last decade or so of his life: "The Mysterious Stranger", "Schoolhouse Hill", and "no. 44". During this period both his wife and daughter died and his writing became increasingly bitter and nihilistic.

No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger is an incomplete book, but it's the closest you'll get to what Twain had in min
Oct 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The is a review for No. 44 The mysterious stranger and not the earlier book called the mysterious stranger by Mark Twain which was in fact heavily edited by Albert Bigelow Paine and even then based on an earlier version of the manuscript to this the definitive version.
A young man working at as a printer in Austria just after the introduction of printing befriends the stranger of the title, a young man able to perform magical feats. Twain's descriptions of the print shop are glorious, relying on
Oct 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone that like Twain
I love Mark Twain!

This is one of his best stories.

Twain was a bit cynical, and often chose to criticize society as he viewed it, often through metaphor, analogy and fiction.

He liked to play devils advocate, and expose our hypocrisies.

In this tale, he does such social critique through the eyes and voice of the fictional character Satan.

One section in particular, where he describes man justifying and starting wars...

I read it at the beginning of the Persian Gulf war and again at the onset of the w
Job Favela
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
No puedo creer que por tanto tiempo yo haya sabido de la existencia de este libro. Cada pensar, cada cosa que viene dentro ha sido un recordatorio de mis propios pensares que me han asaltado en los días y en las noches. Es netamente filosófico, cuestionador y poderoso; aborda los temas que muchos temen y un nombre que muchos evitan. Varias veces pude encontrar frase muy similares de mi pensar y puedo estar seguro que junto a Nuestra Señora de Paris, este es mi nuevo favorito. Es como un sueño, l ...more
Justin Carlton
I found this book fascinating. Incredibly imaginative for its time, "Mysterious Stranger" is Twain's exploration into the realm of fantasy/sci-fi before those genres even existed. I give this book only four stars simply because of the ending. No spoilers, but I will say that it left me thinking, "So none of it really mattered anyway." Instead of coming full-circle or concluding with something satisfying, Twain concluded "Stranger" somewhat uncertainly, which leads me to wonder if he simply wrote ...more
Norma Nill
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: speculative
I liked this book because the Mysterious Stranger started out as such a likeable guy that he won my trust. But then, the change in his attitude nearly made my heart stop. By the end, I thought Twain had done a superb job of showing the true nature of us humans. Oddly enough, when I recommended this book to a friend, he read a different version, which made us each cast a wary eye on the other until we realized the source of our disconnect. His version of The Mysterious Stranger was not nearly as ...more
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My father almost never recommends books (odd, because he was an English teacher), but when he spoke about "The Mysterious Stranger" he spoke with such reverence that it made me want to give it a shot. What I read was one of the most scathing criticism of man and the mob mentality. Twain was clearly bitter and had had it with mankind. It's an amazing short story about some boys in the middle ages and Satan's relative. If you're in to that sort of thing, it's one of the best things I've ever read. ...more
Daniel Goff
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
An incredible piece of atheist fiction, which uses Christian morality to completely break apart many of the irrationalities within religion.

I feel Twain uses the angel Satan as a representation of himself, and the angel's attempts to teach the kids in the story represent Twain's many tales directed to the average American. I wonder if he felt that people were not understanding the real meaning of his stories and were naive, as represented by the kids.

A very good read. Obviously intended not to o
Kit Fox
Oct 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another one I'd been meaning to get around to for quite some time. Really enjoyed just about every seen the character 44 was in, and found myself racing through certain parts until he showed up again. (This is book to The Dark Knight as No. 44 is to the Joker, or something.) Should this be considered super-cynical period sf? If I actually read more sf, maybe I'd have a more informed opinion...
Apr 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Mark Twain is the kind of guy that would be making mind-twisting psychological movies. I want a tee-shirt that says "Satan the angel is my best friend." This is just a little bit more explicit way to present Mark Twain's atheist, existencial meaninglessness.
Apr 28, 2008 rated it liked it
This is a strange book. It has its moments, but not enough to recommend it. If I could give it 2.5 stars, I would.

I will say that it sort of makes me want to read the version of the book that was released at Twain's death--which was based on the first draft of the novel (called "The Chronicles of Young Satan") and included an edited version of the conclusion from this (the third draft).
James Neal
I had higher hopes for Mark Twain's Satanism than this but oh well. At least it moves on at a good clip, and at least in the early parts the atheism is carried forward with sardonic good humor. But there's nothing much here to surprise the modern reader, and when Twain tries to offer something up in the place of traditional institutions all he seems to have for us is cheap solipsism.
Nov 30, 2012 rated it liked it
The surprising end is worth the tedious nature of the rest of this unquestionably smart and insightful book but this is by far not my favorite of Twains works - it lacks his usual wit and humor and though there are glimpses of it, it reads much more like open social commentary, often biting in nature, than one that is cleverly disguised as a more light-hearted narrative.
David Allen
His last novel, and unpublished in its correct form until 1969, this is a fantasy involving time travel, magic, duplicated people, dream-selves and the nature of existence. Worth reading, but not the outright masterpiece I had expected.
Adam Floridia
May 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Entertaining religious semi-satire with existential observations well ahead of its time. If you like Faustus or The Master and Margarita, you should enjoy this--Bulgakov even lifted the talking cat right out of it.

Nov 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scavenged
This was such a dark, sad, despairing story on so many levels that it has taken me over a year to finish it. I wanted to get through it because it is his last novel, but I'm not sure I made the right choice.
D'Argo Agathon
The strangest Twain story he ever wrote. The first half is useless and without Twain's trademark humor, but the second half is a uniquely interesting solipsist philosophy undercut with dark bits of fun. Very cool, but marred by the pointless first 19 chapters.
Mar 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my most favorite stories of all time. It give a 180 point of view of what man might feel is so important, but looking at the whole picture, what God may find ridiculous. Very good read, highly recommend.
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Mysterious Stranger: The Short Story with Satan: 5 stars. The Mysterious Stranger: The Novel with No. 44: 3 stars. The latter shares most of the themes of the shorter version, but includes a story and a quasi-Freudian layer you didn't ask for. The short story remains outstanding.
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
5 stars for the No. 44 Version, which was Twain's last draft for this story. 4 stars for the other version (Satan version), which was based on the first draft and also deleted a quarter of Twain's words.
Tom Mueller
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Critical of mankind - especially in Western and Christian Cultures - and justified by an omnicient being from all times and places. I would not be able to place this work in one single genre; it fits Historical/Christian/Science Fiction, with existential and philosophical overtures.
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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