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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



(p.210) 8 Conclusion
Mark Twain

Gary Scott Smith

Oxford University Press

Understanding what Twain believed about religious matters is complicated by his desire not to hurt Livy, her censorship of some of his writings, his wanting to avoid being attacked for his skeptical positions, and his wish to not tarnish his reputation or hinder the sale of his books. Twain withheld many religious views he thought his Hartford neighbors would consider outrageous or heretical. Examining Twain’s own statements, comments by his family, friends, and acquaintances, his funeral and obituaries, and the conflicting views of scholars, the author rejects both the arguments that Twain was an atheist, an agnostic, or a heretic and that many of his views accorded with conventional Christian faith. Instead, he argues that the religious views he expressed throughout his life are complicated and often contradictory; they convey his strong desire to make sense of the universe and his own life.

Keywords:   religious views, Twain’s funeral, Twain’s reputation, skepticism, Christianity

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