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Letters From The Earth [Paperback]

Mark Twain
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 Mar 2009 1615341099 978-1615341092 Reprint
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 archangels, Gabriel and Michael,about his observations on the curious proceedings of earthly life and the nature of man's religions. Other short stories in the book include a bedtime story about a family of cats Twain wrote for his daughters, and an essay explaining why an anaconda is morally superior to Man.

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Letters From The Earth + The Bible according to Mark Twain: Writings on Heaven, Eden and the Flood + Autobiography of Mark Twain (Perennial Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 108 pages
  • Publisher: EZreads Publications, LLC; Reprint edition (31 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615341099
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615341092
  • Product Dimensions: 22.3 x 16.2 x 0.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,071,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Twain is the pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 - 1910). He was born and brought up in the American state of Missouri and, because of his father's death, he left school to earn his living when he was only twelve. He was a great adventurer and travelled round America as a printer; prospected for gold and set off for South America to earn his fortune. He returned to become a steam-boat pilot on the Mississippi River, close to where he had grown up. The Civil War put an end to steam-boating and Clemens briefly joined the Confederate army - although the rest of his family were Unionists! He had already tried his hand at newspaper reporting and now became a successful journalist. He started to use the alias Mark Twain during the Civil War and it was under this pen name that he became a famous travel writer. He took the name from his steam-boat days - it was the river pilots' cry to let their men know that the water was two fathoms deep.

Mark Twain was always nostalgic about his childhood and in 1876 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published, based on his own experiences. The book was soon recognised as a work of genius and eight years later the sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was published. The great writer Ernest Hemingway claimed that 'All modern literature stems from this one book.'

Mark Twain was soon famous all over the world. He made a fortune from writing and lost it on a typesetter he invented. He then made another fortune and lost it on a bad investment. He was an impulsive, hot-tempered man but was also quite sentimental and superstitious. He was born when Halley's Comet was passing the Earth and always believed he would die when it returned - this is exactly what happened.

Product Description

About the Author

Mark Twain began his career in letters as a printer's apprentice at the age of 12. He worked as a typesetter and hack writer until a trip down the Mississippi inspired him to become a steamboat pilot. Twain was a popular humorist, a failed silver miner, an inventor, a pacifist anti-imperialist, and a vegetarian. He had a strong interest in the paranormal. Twain's novel Huckleberry Finn has profoundly influenced the development of American storytelling. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nearly lost legacy 31 Jan 2006
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Mark Twain remains the foremost writer in North America's literary scene. Widely imitated but never equaled, his perception and wit gave him mastery over nearly every topic. Although derided for it in his own time, his stature derives from his audience: he wrote for everyone, excluding none. Those who know Twain will find this collection a decorative capstone to works published a century ago. Nearly every work of social commentary [and few of his works miss that definition] touched on the topics presented here. But he harboured deeper feelings on many subjects, particularly the sham of Christianity, noting them down and hiding them away. Two world wars and world depression shattered many illusions and changed attitudes. Finally, this wonderful collection was released to be joyfully received by Twain fans. One can only wonder what he would have thought of the reaction.
The commonalty among the essays is man's place in the universe. The title is invoked in a series of letters from a banished archangel. It's a cold-water bath for the new Twain reader. How many Christians have truly considered what awaits them in their "heaven"? An earlier essay, Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven suggested Twain's thinking on the subject, but the Letters From the Earth is a raw inquiry into what environment "paradise" holds for the unthinking. Other aspects of Biblical teachings are covered in the Papers of the Adams Family. What society developed in those centuries between Genesis and The Deluge? Twain surveys the vagaries of his contemporary scene and projects them backward to that early age. It's an hilarious review of human frailty well suited to modern outlook. It's also a cry from heart at the realization of little humans change over time.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Mark Twain's cynicism toward religion was an eye opening experience to me as a naive 13 year-old. After being raised with a strong Protestant background, to be presented with the notions that 1) God and His angels were uncaring entities who weren't even aware of our existence, and 2) that we humans were laughably stupid to think that we were God's chosen ones in all the Universe were shocking blasphemies! But many of Twain's comments, speaking as Satan, became grist for my teenage brain; the brain that was beginning to look outward toward the world and wonder about my place in it.
I am now 48 years-old. In thinking back to my first reading of LFTE, I have come to realize that this book might well have represented the first step in shaping the beliefs I hold today. I eagerly await my second reading of Twain's "Letters" to see, at mid-life, how they settle in my heart and brain now that I have married and have two children (ages 10 and 14). I believe I'll read them some of the more delicious passages!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Disturbing 24 Nov 1998
By A Customer
The first time I read this, I had just finished The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I was in for a surprise! Had I just read the Innocents Abroad, it may have prepared me better, but I think most people will be reading this book from a Tom Sawyer mindset, and it will shatter your belief about Mark Twain. It's a classic, well worth a read, and a good study of human nature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Twain recognizes many of life's "truths" in this book. His concept of the
difference between men and women is unique, way ahead of his contemporaries,
and certainly lays the ground work for modern books like "women are from Venus,
Men are from Mars." My favorite book to give as a gift.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Humorous from the moment Satan is sent down to Earth by God, until the more sombre tale at the end. Along the way we find out what Satan really thinks about earthlings and harps in heaven, we learn of the silly conceit of oysters for thinking the World was made for them...wait what? EVERYTHING knows it was Perfectly Made For Humans! and the moral judgements pronounced on the Earth's animals are exposed in the damning Animal Court.

It's a great book to dip into, and entertaining to read Twain's take on life and Christianity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Satanic Letters about the Descent of Man 27 April 2013
Mark Twain unveils in these uncensored writings sarcastically his outspoken views on man, religion, politics and human civilization.

Mark Twain exhorts all men on earth: `each of you must for yourself alone decide what is right or wrong.'
Unfortunately, man's intelligence is limited. His irrationalism is blatantly exposed by the population explosion. Mark Twain sees at the horizon an earth burdened by 50 billion people! Another example: (the Christian) man `thinks he thinks.' But, look at his heaven: he `has entirely left out the one ecstasy that stands foremost in the heart of every individual ... sexual intercourse.'
Spiritually, man's `disastrous Moral Sense is the parent of all the immoralities. It enables him to distinguish good from evil, and, necessarily, to do wrong.' Materially, man is `but a basket of pestilent corruption provided for the entertainment of swarming armies of bacilli - armies to rot and destroy him.' Concerning his character, its main traits are `hypocrisy, envy, malice, cruelty, vengefulness, seduction, rape, robbery, swindling, arson and the oppression and humiliation of the poor and the helpless. Many men who have accumulated more millions of money than they can ever use, have shown a rabid hunger for more.'

Of course, `man is the only religious animal.' But, for Mark Twain, he is, moreover, `the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself, and cut his throat if his theology isn't straight.' `When the Lord God of Heaven and Earth goes to war, he is totally without mercy for both sexes and all ages.'
For Mark Twain, `the Old Testament is interested mainly in blood and sensuality. The New One in Salvation by fire.
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