CHAPTER · FOURTEEN

I feel that so much of Twain's mind and nature, his inner conflicts and troubled speculations and broodings, his judgment of men and life, are in The Mysterious Stranger that I want to pay particular attention to it. A writer will work at an idea for years, he will write about it and write around it over and over, he will approach it from many angles, then at last he will get hold of the theme in its entirety; and much practice in writing about it, much reflection upon it will produce the work. I feel all this to be so about The Mysterious Stranger, and further that it is Twain's supreme tale, a work of marvellous imagination, and wrought out in language full of energy and eloquence. I should call it a prose poem, and analogous to Browning's "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came." In the early eighties Twain wrote by way of memoranda, "I believe in God the Almighty.... I think the goodness, the justice and the mercy of God are manifested in His works; I perceive that they are manifested toward me in this

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