—Mark Twain, “On the Damned Human Race”


Mark Twain On The Damned Human Race
copyright 1962 by Janet Smith; published by Hill And Wang, New York; special edition 1994; ISBN: 1-56619-526-8.

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Mark Twain on the damned human race. (Open Library)

Read some of his essays and satires on U.S. and World politics of the early 20th century, e.g., “Letters from the Earth,” “Mark Twain on the Damned Human Race.” Yes, he was cynical and bitter, but he also had a conscience. If perhaps religion as he observed it was ridiculous, shallow, and hypocritical, one could understand his attitude toward it, without necessarily agreeing with it.

Mark Twain on the damned human race

Paine's and Clara Clemens's editorial and publishing decisions also set the stage forcharges of official censorship of Twain's anti-imperialist writings that were leveled against theUnited States by critics within the Soviet Union during the Cold War. To Soviet critics, theUnited States was an imperialist country, and either "reactionary American publishers," "officials"or "editors" were suppressing Mark Twain's anti-imperialist writings to hide that fact. Theseaccusations were first leveled in 1947, and the New York Times quoted Bernard DeVoto andFrederick Allen of Harper and Brothers as finding the charges "preposterous." The debate hitits peak in 1959 to 1960 when a series of articles was published in the Soviet Literary Gazettethat used the widely noted absence of any of Twain's critical writings in Charles Neider's TheAutobiography of Mark Twain (1959) to level the charges of censorship once again. Neiderresponded with letters to the Soviet critics, and the debate was carried as front page news in theNew York Times. In 1960, the letters were collected and published as a pamphlet entitled MarkTwain and the Russians (Hill and Wang), and Neider gave the debate prominent notice in theintroduction to his next anthology, Mark Twain: Life as I Find It, published in 1961. Thatvolume was a direct response to the charges of censorship. Noting in his introduction that theSoviet Union was publishing a large multi-volume edition of Twain's writings that would includemany of his critical essays, Neider wrote, "The Russians are proud of their Mark Twain -- theanti-American Mark Twain, as they seem to believe he was, and as any of his countrymen knowbetter." To disprove the charges of censorship, Neider's anthology included "A Defence ofGeneral Funston," "," "King Leopold's Soliloquy," two earlier lettersopposing the annexation of Hawaii, several interviews on imperialism, and other critical writings-- all reprinted for the first time since their original publications more than 50 years earlier. JanetSmith's collection of Twain's social criticism, Mark Twain on the Damned Human Race (Hill andWang), was published the following year, and she also noted the exchange with the Russians inher introduction. Although Letters from the Earth was also published in 1962, its introductionsimply related the history of DeVoto's early work on the anthology and Clara Clemens'sopposition to its publication.

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