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Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  6,688 Ratings  ·  410 Reviews
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. Twain penned a series of letters from the point-of-view of a dejected an ...more
Paperback, 321 pages
Published February 17th 2004 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1962)
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Jul 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Satan's letters written during a visit to Earth, this is Mark Twain at his most cynical and offensive. This is a far cry from C.S. Lewis, perhaps even a Bizarro reflection. Long before today's crop of posturing, pompous-ass religious critics, Twain did it better, faster and funnier. For those who like their humor dark as unsweetened cocoa.
May 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Cynics bow down before the idol of your seething ire! Mark Twain's critique of the Earth's entanglement with religion as told by an oft-banished-bad-boy-of-heaven we all know (but not so well as we thought) singes eyelashes at times. A series of letters written by Satan himself during a term of expulsion from heaven depict the sad hilarity of mankind's relationship with it's creator. Satan's outside perspective yields Twain an opportunity to express his deep criticism of god-fearing culture. It ...more
David Withun
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
There's nothing quite like reading Mark Twain that helps one to remember what American literature could and should be, but, unfortunately, isn't. Mark Twain was the best America has ever produced. Satire as a literary genre might as well not exist today when compared with that of Twain. This particular book is a collection of perhaps simultaneously some of the funniest, most insightful, most uncomfortably true, and most challenging short stories and essays that Twain wrote. Forget Colbert and St ...more
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
“The first time the Deity came down to earth, he brought life and death; when he came the second time, he brought hell.”

Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth, which were written under the influence of various blows fate dealt him, like the deaths of his 24-year old daughter Suzy from spinal meningitis in 1896 and of his wife Olivia in1904, never saw publication during their author’s lifetime, probably because they were considered as heavy stuff even with regard to what could be expected of a satir
Mar 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of twain and counter-culture
Shelves: americana, humor
This book is a varied collection of Mark Twain's later writings, from a period traditionally overlooked by American students but intensely scrutinized in Europe. The titular "Letters from the Earth" series include wry and mildly heretical musings on Biblical lore, Christian cosmology, and human nature in general. These were indeed the basis for a rather creepy children's Claymation TV show in the 80s called "The Adventures of Mark Twain," the sort of thing that nowadays would get program directo ...more
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Okay- after reading this... I so wish I could have sat down with this man and that I could have shared a drink and a chat with him. He was so witty and clever. Hilarious. He must have been something else...
Lamski Kikita
Dec 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could write a long review of this amazing and shocking book. Mark like I've never seen him before; the Mark I always wanted to hear more from and did not find in his stories of mischievous childhoods in the Mississippi. But i won't write that long review, instead, i will sub it up in the following sentence: Man is a mistake. The human race, basically, is the most horrible species that ever dwelled this earth. We kill, torture, pass judgment, discriminate, and do the worst things possible with ...more
In the last year I've taken great care in crafting my reading goals towards something that will satisfy my need to be a more thoroughly educated guy. I've been an avid reader since my early teens, and as a byproduct I've gained a relatively good grasp of many key books. However, lately the gaps in my education have really become a bother. It is with that said, that I put forward Mark Twain as exhibit A: Letters from the Earth is my first substantial introduction to him. I think I read Tom Sawyer ...more
Feb 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reason brings the courage to take a fresh look at myths and stories in the Bible that have been used as justification for mankind actions for centuries. With a fresh view and a sharp mind, M.Twain provoked me bitter smile after bitter smile while reading Satan's letters. But a first step to break the spell has been taken, so hopefully there is no coming back to dogma and superstition afterwards....

the letters can be read here:
Jan 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
The way Mark Twain pokes fun at Christianity, it's no wonder these writings were originally censored. In Letters from the Earth, Satan reports back to heaven in a series of epistles making light of religion. He explains that Noah and his family were all disease ridden, since God's command to preserve two of every animal also applied to microbes. God, in his infinite wisdom, saw that diseases such as syphilis would be necessary in the world to come. I've got to say, picturing Noah going around an ...more
Христо Блажев
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Писма от Земята, писма до разума:

Не очаквах. Знаех в общи линии, че в “Писма от Земята” Марк Твен погромява религията, но чак до такава степен изненада дори мен – сред тези кратки страници великият сатирик е по-мощен и краен от представимото – ироничен, циничен, саркастичен, откровен, направо жлъчен… и страница след страница карикатуризира и пародира християнството и персонажите от бибилията. Воглаве с това, Твен осмива и съвременната цивилизация във вида
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is bitter Twain at his darkest.

In essence he takes the view that Nature is so filled with irrational horror and pain that existence is hardly worth having. Humankind is not much better as its members thrive on stupid contradictions and cruelty. The Bible is filled with thousands of lies and Jesus Christ was himself a sadistic liar.

In such a cosmos God is incredibly stupid, evil, or non-existent. That last is the most comforting thought as it at least allows human beings to concentrate on
Feb 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor-and-satire
I have to rate this lower than things like The Autobiography and other novels because this represents sort of a hodgepodge of remnants and unfinished works. That's not to say it is not worthwhile. I mean why struggle through something as tedious as Nietzsche, when all the same scathing sentiments against the banality of humans are presented here in humorous form? There were parts where he seemed to be writing about today (overcrowding, wastefulness, phony religion, and the end of days).

Most int
Amina Mirsakiyeva
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Если вспомнить, что книга была написана в такой религиозной Америке и на стыке XIX и XX веков, то поражаешься храбрости писателя и понимаешь, почему книга не печаталась 50 лет после его смерти. В мире, где люди безоговорочно верили в Библию, разнести ее в пух и прах, основываясь на простом здравом смысле, - дело нешуточное. Современные авторы все-таки не так открыто смеются над религией, теперь это делается с каким-то изяществом, что ли. Сейчас религия воспринимается как сказка, и нет смысла ее ...more
Dec 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kurzgeschichte
This collection of largely unpublished material is the most impressive contribution to books by Mark Twain after "The Mysterious Stranger" of 1916, with which it shares an imaginative grandeur. Mark Twain thought, while he was alive, he was going to terrify the world with a metaphysical masterpiece, "What Is Man?" (1917), but that book is mostly unreadable. However, he included similar ideas in both "The Mysterious Stranger" and Letters From the Earth, and they are both better books as they demo ...more
Arthur Brady
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
i should note that i didn't read this edition. i wanted to give the text 4 stars, because it's a great (if apparently unfinished) collection of essays.

be warned, though, of the edition that i did get: it's the one that first pops up on an amazon search (at least, during the current time period, it's the first: this review may have an expiration date); it's got a green cover and two goofy red Satanic eyes staring out from the top, published by "Greenbook Publications, LLC."

it's a crime against Tw
Bob Schnell
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
After reading the 3 volumes of Mark Twain's autobiography I have been interested in reading everything else outside of his well-known catalog. "Letters from the Earth" was also published posthumously and his daughter Clara delayed publication until 1962 to prevent potential embarrassment to the family. It is a collection of essays and short works, some not even finished. The bulk of the writings concern Satan's letters to the other angels about God's latest creations. It is reminiscent of C.S. L ...more
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of writings that Mark Twain didn't publish in his lifetime. The best parts were the sections where Mark Twain translated the ancient diaries of the Adam Family (as in Adam and Eve). Here is an excerpt from the conversation Adam and Eve had after they were forbidden the fruit...

"Good and evil?"
"What is that?"
"What is what?"
"Why, those things. What is good?"
"I do not know. How should I know?"
"Well, then, what is evil?"
"I suppose it is the name of something, but I do not
Miramira Endevall
Sep 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own

"Now there you have a sample of man's "reasoning powers," as he calls them. He observes certain facts. For instance, that in all his life he never sees the day that he can satisfy one woman; also, that no woman ever sees the day that she can't overwork, and defeat, and put out of commission any ten masculine parts that can be put to bed to her. [Man:] puts those strikingly suggestive and luminous facts together, and from them draws this astonishing conclusion: The Creator intended the wo
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Letters from the Earth was fantastic. I loved the writing and the way that Mark Twain shed light on the hypocrisy of religion and the human notion of God. After that section however, the book became very dull very quickly. As this book is a collection of his writings, I felt that a lot of it did not flow together. If things were tied together tighter, my rating would have been higher but I just found everything after Letters from the Earth to be highly boring.
Eric Burgos
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book that gives the reader a different perspective about religious characters while giving the reader the feeling that these fictional characters are real. You can never go wrong with Mark Twain
Julie Mickens
One of the very few books I've read three times, at least parts of it. I first read it on a plane and I could not stop cracking up. I tried to interest my seatmate, but he preferred his portable DVD player. Alas!
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I can't even write anything that could adequately describe how brilliant this is, and it's because I'm not Mark Twain.
Jun 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Twain fans
Recommended to Jason by: Craig
Shelves: mark-twain, 2016, humor
This had some great parts, and some that were just okay. These are writings Twain didn't want published for various reasons. Some were a bit risque for his time period. (We find he's as wantonly cynical as George Carlin, though he still does it without bad language). Others were incomplete when he died. Some you could tell he just gave up on because they weren't going anywhere great. Some of the pieces were short, and made me think that this could've been Twain's blog had blogs existed back then ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
the OG atheist picking out logic holes in the bible, getting a kick out of religious puritanism and god generally being a dickhead. always fun
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book has some of Mark Twain’s best writing, but strangely, it is not well known. Actually, it’s not strange at all. This work is not just hilarious; it’s not just brilliant prose that is remarkably energetic, intelligent, and insightful—it is wildly sarcastic, blatantly sacrilegious, blisteringly irreverent, and boldly condemning of Christian beliefs. To realize that this was written over a hundred years ago when the nation was far more religiously dogmatic and intolerant, is to realize tha ...more
Hansen Wendlandt
Read anything by Twain, and you come away rather the same: laughing at and angry with your fellow humans for being so witless and mean to each other. (Imagine what he would say about Fox News today!) Twain's cynicism and sarcasm are more refined in his classics, but generally, one feels that soul in this collection of obscure stories. Many are incomplete; a few drag as boring and apparently unedited; but there are a few inspired pieces worth reading.

The titular story, “Letters From the Earth”, i
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
От изданието, което четох, първата част ("Писма от Земята") беше доста сполучлива.

От втората част ("Архиви на Адамовото семейство") сравнително интересни бяха само първите няколко откъса. Следващите едва ги прелиствах.

Положението е такова и с третата част - "Религията през ситото на логиката". Първите две есета - добре, "Нещо за разкаянието" - доста добре; останалите - не чак толкова.

Всъщност негативната оценка е по-скоро към самото издание, състявано и преправяно няколко пъти след смъртта на Ма
Samuel Maina
Dec 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, classics
In the beginning the earth was without form and void. In reading Letters from the Earth I expected the same – Nothing of substance.

I could already see the conversation going down in a book club that I belong to when discussing this book. The things said herein about Noah and the ark (rudderless s ship) are basically a hit below the belt. I think Mark Twain stretched his mind when writing about this.

I hear him when he contends with God on why women should be given so much passion and be restricte
Yousef Nabil
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
أعتقد إن ده أحد كتب مارك توين المهمة جدًا اللي بتبين مشروعه الفكري بشكل واضح ومباشرة. تدو رحبكة الرواية عن ذهاب الشيطان إلى الأرض بعد طرده من السماء ومراقبته لعالم الإنسان، ثم تسجيل ملاحظاته عن الجنس البشري ومعارفه وأديانه في صورة خطابات يرسلها لاثنين من رؤساء الملائكة في السماء.
الكتاب محمل بطاقة كراهية من توين لله في الأساس، ومن ثم الإنسا نصنيعته، بدرجة لا توصف. كنت قد بدأت ترجمته من فترة وتوقفت لأني أدركت أنه لايمكن نشره على الإطلاق في مصر.
أكثر ما لفت نظري في الكتاب تناقض بسيط وغريب وقع فيه تو
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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
“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal... In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.

Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh--not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.”
“The difference between a Miracle and a Fact is exactly the difference between a mermaid and a seal.” 78 likes
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