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Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Mark Twain has a big claim to being America's most popular author. Real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Mark Twain was famous as a humorist, but was also a humanitarian - he supported women's rights and said he hated racism (though some of his reported views on Native Americans would contradict this), and his views on vivisection showed his compassion for animals: "I am not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn't... The pain which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further."

Twain, who would often work on four or five books at any one time, produced some of the most famous works in the history of American literature, including 'The Innocents Abroad (1869)', 'The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer (1876)', 'The Prince And The Pauper (1881)', 'Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (1884)', and 'A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court (1889)'.

Copyright © Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.


Mark Twain Short Story Analysis: A Humane Word from Satan

Mark Twain was one of America's, and the world's, great literary wits. His 'A Humane Word from Satan' is an example of Twain being playful, but with an underlying edge.

Feelings That Resonate Today

In the letter from Satan, to 'Harper's Weekly', the modern day reader will be struck by how relevant the contents of the letter are. In an age where the propriety of many people in power becomes increasingly questioned, Twain's comments about how the rich bend, and even break, the rules resonates today.

The Mr. Rockefeller mentioned in the letter is John Rockefeller, who was a rich philanthropist, so was one of the good rich guys. Twain is using his sharp wit when he is speaking from the Devil's angle: "The American Board accepts contributions from me every year: then why shouldn't it from Mr. Rockefeller?" The voice of the Devil, in this case, could be any corrupt and rich individual.

Conscience-Money

Twain repeats the phrase "conscience-money", as if any generous donation is made to blot out past crimes, rather than being a genuinely benevolent act. He also, mischievously, mentions that a bequest from a rich individual is robbing his or her heirs. Twain describes how any donation of this kind is almost an admittance of covering up new crimes, or a planning of new ones.

Twain defends perjury accusations against Rockefeller by saying that the rich perjure themselves all the time. Satan is curious as to why an exception being made of Rockefeller. The Devil is also amused by what he sees as hypocrisy, and says: "IT MAKES US SMILE--down in my place!" He also says that he rarely gets anyone who is open and honest about their crimes - when it comes to fraud in financial matters.

Satan's Donations

In a final twist, the Devil says that money contributed from fraudulent individuals is the "wages of sin". Consequently, it is the Devil's money, and as it's he who contributes the money, he should have a say from which persons the money should come from.

Satan doesn't actually come out and say that Rockefeller is a good person, but he obviously feels that he has been hard done by - compared to some other rich individuals. Though whether Rockefeller would be happy to be defended by Satan is another thing entirely! 'A Humane Word from Satan' certainly makes the reader think about injustice, and how that injustice still persists.

Copyright © Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Penguin Popular Classics) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Penguin Popular Classics)
~Mark Twain
Penguin Books Ltd
Paperback - September 30, 2004
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Penguin Popular Classics) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Penguin Popular Classics)
~Mark Twain
Penguin Books Ltd
Paperback - July 29, 2004
The Mysterious Stranger (Dover Thrift Edition)
~Mark Twain
Dover Publications
Paperback - February 1, 1992
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
~Mark Twain
Dover Publications
Paperback - June 1, 2001
Pudd'nhead Wilson (English Library) Pudd'nhead Wilson (English Library)
~Mark Twain
Penguin Books Ltd
Paperback - June 1, 1969
Innocents Abroad Innocents Abroad
~Mark Twain, Jane Jacobs (Introduction)
Random House USA Inc
Paperback - February 1, 2003

MARK TWAIN BOOKS available from booksmusicfilmstv.com - in association with Amazon.com

Product photo Innocents Abroad or the New Pilgrims Progress: Being Some Account of the Steamship Quaker City's Pleasure Excursion to Europe and the Holy Land : With Descriptions of Countries, Nations, Incidents
Mark Twain
Product photo Joan of Arc
Mark Twain
Product photo Pudd'nhead Wilson (Bantam Classics)
MARK TWAIN

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