Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

I was amused by one quote in this article: A commentator opined that were he alive today, Mark Twain “would definitely be a blogger.” Of course, there’s no way to test such an hypothesis, but it certainly makes for an interesting mental image: the old master, eyebrows and moustache bristling with indignation, hammering furiously at a computer keyboard in response to the latest outrage perpetrated on the American people by their ruling elite and the government that serves it.

Mark Twain: a blogger before the internet?

Mark Twain: a blogger before the internet?
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As it happens, I did already know something of Twain’s political activism: His bitterly sardonic poem, “The War Prayer,” suffices as an introduction to his thoughts on at least one of the issues of the day: the Philippine-American War. What is less known is that Twain also wrote on subjects ranging from Abolition (which he felt freed white men as well as black) to religion, incurring predictable resentments in the process.

Given the sometimes vigorous rebukes he delivered in his writings, and whom he rebuked, it is no surprise that he held his autobiography — which includes much political material previously suppressed — from publication until a century after his death; had he not done this, I suspect that those whom he censured would have retaliated by smearing him, and today his name would be far less broadly known and blurred by far more controversy.

Originally published as a review of a New York Times article on Mark Twain.

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