I have always been an admirer of Mark Twain but was fascinated to find this philosophical gem. 'What is Man?' is not the only work in this volume which examines life incisively. He examines the idea of rubicons being crossed and writes them off as a cumulation of previous events, examines personal taste and attitudes and manages - as is his wont - to make you laugh.
This collection of essays concludes with a swinging attack on the idea that Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to him. While I disagree with him about the possibilities of emerging literate from an illiterate family, several of his arguments are compelling. He knows much more about law than would somebody who spent his life as an actor and theatrical manager, there is a vast difference between his plays and his one recorded item of poetry, on his gravestone and many of the notions we have from 'experts' are mutually irreconcilable. In comparing Shakespearian critics' intolerance with that of the devout, Twain comes out with his most coruscating and entertaining prose. And one great Twain quote:
"I cannot call to mind a single instance where I have ever been irreverent, except towards the things which were sacred to other people." In then discussing sacrilege and the demands of Christians and Hindus for respect for their religions, he goes on to say "... to stop the spread of the privilege and strictly confine it to its present limits ... the privilege of regulating the irreverent and keeping them in order shall eventually be withdrawn from all the sects but me."
Another overlooked gem which you can get for free is 'Following the Equator' which combines the humour of Twain's original travel books with the worldliness of the aging seer.