Mark Twain a.k.a. Pastor Mark – Part 1 of 2

It was the most earnest ambition I ever had….Not that I ever really wanted to be a preacher, but because it never occurred to me that a preacher could be damned. It looked like a safe job.
Mark Twain, a Biography

Mark often stated he deplored organized religion and it was well known he despised hypocrisy of all kinds. “I’m a human being, I couldn’t be any worse.” Despite these assertions, he spoke reverently to and about the ordinary person; questioned his training and habits; and frequently debated religion with his close friends and family. Some of his closest friends were pastors and ministers. It’s reported Samuel Clemens had 23-bibles in his home and one illustrated version so his daughters could understand the stories more completely at an early age. As a child, he was required to memorize bible verses to win prizes at Sunday school. My favorite opening sentence in a Mark Twain story, “A Dog’s Tale,” is: “My father was a St. Bernard, my mother was a collie, but I am a Presbyterian.”


 Frontispiece to Extract from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven by Albert Levering


It’s evident from the writings he published, and those he wrote which were published by others, he had a firm understanding of God and religion and an inquisitive mind:

Innocents Abroad (1869)  

Mark Twain Letters from the Earth, edited by Bernard DeVoto (1938)

The Bible According to Mark Twain, edited by Howard G. Baetzhold & Joseph B. McCullough (1995)

The Devil’s Race Track: Mark Twain’s Great Dark Writings, edited by John S. Tuckey

Fables of Man, edited by John S. Tuckey (1972)

Christian Science (1907)

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896) Note: Clemens favorite historical figure. Critical companion to Mark Twain: a literary reference to his life and work – K. Rasmussen (2007, 1995)

No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger (1969)

Eve’s Diary (1905)

Extracts from Adam’s Diary (1893)

Extract from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven (1909)

Sam Clemens’s other books and short stories often include passages on religion. Satire is the weapon of choice. My favorite Mark Twain short story is, “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.” A review of the short story and DVD will follow in a separate post.

“The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg” DVD

– The American Short Story Collection – 1980

Read my favorite Mark Twain short story –

The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg” at Project Gutenberg

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