Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Twain Upset

According to the New York Times, the University of California Press will publish soon the uncensored “Autobiography of Mark Twain”. Its content will make it clear that Twain’s opposition to incipient imperialism and American military intervention ran very deep. Obviously the book 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. For example, in writing about an attack on a tribal group in the Philippines, Twain refers to American troops as “our uniformed assassins” and describes their killing of “six hundred helpless and weaponless savages” as “a long and happy picnic with 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.”

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