[PW] Quote: "If there is a God, he is a malign thug" attributed to Mark Twain (probably incorrectly)

T.F. Mills phasco at earthlink.net
Thu Jun 9 17:29:06 PDT 2016


On 9 Jun 2016 at 14:32, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:

> I have been asked to investigate a statement attributed to Mark Twain.
> Here is one version: "If there is a God, he is a malign thug".
> Information on this topic would be welcome.

It might be worth noting that this is both consistent with Twain's beliefs and that he knew the 
world was not ready for his beliefs for another hundred years.  In 1906 he told his friend Wiliam 
Dean Howells, "Tomorrow I intend to dictate a chapter [on religion] which will get my heirs & 
assigns burnt alive if they venture to print it this side of 2006 A.D."   Much of what Twain wrote 
about God and religion did indeed remain unpublished in his lifetime, but he is known to have 
called God "malignant" in these 1906 dictations.  

Perhaps the best source is "The Bible According to Mark Twain" (U of Georgia Press, 1995.)  
The original unpublished dictations are probably in the Mark Twain papers at UC-Berkeley.

My source is Michael Shelden's "Mark Twain: the Man in White" (Random House, 2010), p. 
76-77.


T.F. Mills 
(Colorado, USA)




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