In this wonderfully witty essay, Twain complains about the prostitution of the noble art of lying, which he declares to be “the fourth Grace, the tenth Muse, man’s best and surest friend.” Twain delivers a sharp critique of American society, revealing the multiple falsehoods that occur under the guise of truthfulness and going so far as to suggest that the ‘brutal truth’ should be completely eradicated. A linguistic delight and as relevant today as it was over a hundred years ago.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, held a remarkable variety of jobs throughout his life: typesetter, printer’s apprentice, journalist and pilot of a boat on the Mississippi river. He failed to find gold in the great rush and finally settled with journalism. A truly American voice, Twain was eventually heralded as the greatest American humorist of his age. William Faulkner called Twain ‘the father of American literature’. Born during a visit by Haley’s Comet, he died on its return at the age of 75.