The Real Mark Twain

Mark Twain's posthumous autobiography reveals the author's darker side, but will we bother to notice? Or will we prefer the "Disneyfied" history of the man as avuncular satirist?

Mark Twain's posthumous autobiography reveals the author's darker side, but will we bother to notice? Or will we prefer the "Disneyfied" history of the man as avuncular satirist? "Twain was vociferously opposed to American imperialism, fulminating in suppressed passages in the Autobiography against 'the iniquitous Cuban-Spanish War' and pouring scorn on a U.S. attack on unarmed tribal peoples in the Philippines, a 'long and happy picnic' for 'our uniformed assassins' who have 'nothing to do but sit in comfort and fire the Golden Rule into those people down there and imagine letters to write home to the admiring families, and pile glory upon glory.' As the Times points out, 'The uncensored autobiography…includes remarks that, if made today in the context of Iraq or Afghanistan, would probably lead the right wing to question the patriotism of this most American of American writers.'"

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