Home > Uncategorized > Van Wyck Brooks: The truth about war that Mark Twain could only divulge after death

Van Wyck Brooks: The truth about war that Mark Twain could only divulge after death

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Mark Twain: Selections on war

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Van Wyck Brooks
From The Ordeal of Mark Twain (1920)

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Van Wyck Brooks

In 1905 he wrote a “War Prayer,” a bitterly powerful fragment of concentrated satire. Hear what Mr. [Albert Bigelow] Paine says about it: “To Dan Beard, who dropped in to see him, Clemens read the ‘War Prayer,’ stating that he had read it to his daughter Jean, and others, who had told him he must not print it, for it would be regarded as sacrilege. ‘Still you are going to publish it, are you not?’ Clemens, pacing up and down the room in his dressing-gown and slippers, shook his head. ‘No,’ he said. ‘I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead.’

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