Conversations With Satan and Mark Twain

Mark Twain may be dead, but he's still publishing books.

"You had better shove this in the stove," Mark Twain said at the top of an 1865 letter to his brother, "for I don't want any absurd 'literary remains' and 'unpublished letters of Mark Twain' published after I am planted."

When Mark Twain died in 1910, he left behind the largest collection of personal papers created by any nineteenth-century American author.

Now, published for the first time in book form, are twenty-four pieces (picked by Robert Hirst, general editor of the Mark Twain Project at the University of California, Berkeley) as Who Is Mark Twain?

The collection includes "Jane Austen" where he wonders if Austen's goal is to "make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters." "The Privilege of the Grave" offers a powerful statement about the freedom of speech while "Happy Memories of the Dental Chair" will make you appreciate modern dentistry. In "Frank Fuller and My First New York Lecture" Twain plasters the city with ads to promote his talk at the Cooper Union (he is terrified no one will attend). Later that day, Twain encounters two men gazing at one of his ads. One man says to the other: "Who is Mark Twain?" The other responds: "God knows—I don't."

"A man’s brain (intellect) is stored powder; it cannot touch itself off; the fire must come from outside."   — Mark Twain, Mark Twain’s Notebook

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