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Mark TwainPreacher, Prophet, and Social Philosopher$
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Gary Scott Smith

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780192894922

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780192894922.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 October 2021

The 1900s

The 1900s

Trying to Make Sense of Life

(p.163) 7 The 1900s
Mark Twain

Gary Scott Smith

Oxford University Press

During the final decade of his life, Twain received several devastating blows—the death of his beloved wife in 1904, the death of his daughter Jean in 1909, and his own declining health. These and other problems have led some scholars to portray him as a bitter, cynical, disillusioned codger who was hamstrung by his misfortunes and angry as his creative powers diminished and his health deteriorated. This, they say, led him to repudiate Christianity, adopt a deterministic worldview, and savagely rail against an implacable, depraved God, a hypocritical, heartless Christianity and the damned human race. Twain’s writings during his final decade allegedly displayed his relentless despair as he embraced social and spiritual nihilism. At the same time, his criticisms of various groups including missionaries, villains, especially Russian Czar Nicholas II and Belgian King Leopold II, and several ideologies—militarism, imperialism, anti-Semitism—became increasingly caustic.

Keywords:   Olivia Clemens, Jean Clemens, Nicholas II, Leopold II, militarism, imperialism, missionaries, determinism, Christianity, afterlife

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