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

Beth Twomey beth.twomey at ndsu.edu
Fri Jun 10 09:09:36 PDT 2016

UC Berkeley has digitized he Mark Twain archives. Visit the Mark Twain Project Online: http://www.marktwainproject.org/

There are tutorials on the site for using it.


B. Twomey

-----Original Message-----
From: Project-wombat [mailto:project-wombat-bounces at lists.project-wombat.org] On Behalf Of T.F. Mills
Sent: Thursday, June 09, 2016 7:29 PM
To: ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>; list at project-wombat.org
Subject: Re: [PW] Quote: "If there is a God, he is a malign thug" attributed to Mark Twain (probably incorrectly)

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about God and religion did indeed remain unpublished in his lifetime, but he is known to have called God "malignant" in these 1906 dictations.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 The original unpublished dictations are probably in the Mark Twain papers at UC-Berkeley.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. 

T.F. Mills
(Colorado, USA)

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