CHAPTER · ELEVEN

The cause of Twain's spiritual collapse was that he had no genuine convictions about any important thing. He had no philosophy of life, no compelling ideals, no political principles, no theory of the literary art and faith, no belief in man, in liberty, in institutions, in possible progress for the race, in the potential influence of civilizing processes. At the same time he saw with magnifying eyes the absurdities of life and he had genius, a genius that impelled him to satire. What is to be said of a writer who sees great wrongs in the world, who sees superstition choking the minds of his fellows, with a talent to expose them and lay the ax to their roots, and yet out of uxorious deference to his wife will shelve what he has thought out and written? There is What Is Man? by no means a profound or even an important production. It is merely skeptical in the fashion of the nineteenth century. Yet in 1904 Twain said, "Am I honest? I give you my word of honor (privately) I am not. For seven years I have suppressed a book

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Mark Twain: A Portrait
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