Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 1 decade ago

Was Mark Twain right about the Book of Mormon?

The ever poignant Mark Twain had several things to say about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Utah Mormons. About the 'record of the Nephites' he wrote:

"All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the 'elect' have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so 'slow,' so sleepy; such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle -- keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate."

I've read it and I'd have to agree. Was Mark Twain right? Is it chloroform in print?


Looks like Twain may have met his match:

"The second day, we made the acquaintance of Mr. Street and put on white shirts and went and paid a state visit to the king. He seemed a quiet, kindly, easy-mannered, dignified, self-possessed old gentleman of fifty-five or sixty, and had a gentle craft in his eye that probably belonged there. He was very simply dressed and was just taking off a straw hat as we entered.

"He talked about Utah, and the Indians, and Nevada, and general American matters and questions, with our Secretary and certain government officials who came with us. But he never paid any attention to me, notwithstanding I made several attempts to 'draw him out' on Federal politics and his high-handed attitude toward Congress.

Update 2:

"I thought some of the things I said were rather fine. But he merely looked around at me, at distant intervals, something as I have seen a benignant old cat look around to see which kitten was meddling with her tail. By and by I subsided into an indignant silence, and so sat until the end, hot and flushed, and execrating him in my heart for an ignorant savage. But he was calm. His conversation with those gentlemen flowed on as sweetly and peacefully and musically as any summer brook.

"When the audience was ended and we were retiring from the presence, he put his hand on my head, beamed down on me in an admiring way and said to my brother: 'Ah - your child, I presume? Boy, or girl?' "

12 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    LOL Gotta love Mark Twain.

    He had choice words for a lot of things in this world. Just because he was a great writer, doesn't make him right all the time.

    You should read some of his quotes on the bible, including but not limited to:

    "It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies."

    "The Christian's Bible is a drug store."

    "When one reads Bibles, one is less surprised at what the Deity knows than at what He doesn't know"

    And here are a few of his thoughts on religion in general:

    "We despise all reverences and all the objects of reverence which are outside the pale of our own list of sacred things. And yet, with strange inconsistency, we are shocked when other people despise and defile the things which are holy to us."

    "Monarchies, aristocracies, and religions....there was never a country where the majority of the people were in their secret hearts loyal to any of these institutions."

    "The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. I would not interfere with any one's religion, either to strengthen it or to weaken it. I am not able to believe one's religion can affect his hereafter one way or the other, no matter what that religion may be. But it may easily be a great comfort to him in this life--hence it is a valuable possession to him."

    ROFL Martin - that's awesome, especially if he really said it.

    BTW - Comparing Tolkien to Joseph Smith, Jr. is interesting. One was a senior citizen who had a college education and lived almost his entire life before writing his masterpiece (which I love), the other was a young man that had less then a 3rd grade education when he translated God's words (which I also love).

    ADD: Oh, and let us not forget what he said in DEFENSE of Mormons against Congress targeting them:

    HARTFORD, March 8, 1886.

    DEAR MISS FIELD, -- Oh, dear me, no. That would be the same as saying that because you differ from me upon the rights and equities of a subject, I am at liberty to hold a "poor opinion" of you for voicing your sentiments in the matter.

    Your notion and mine about polygamy is without doubt exactly the same; but you probably think we have some cause of quarrel with those people for putting it into their religion, whereas I think the opposite. Considering our complacent cant about this country of ours being the home of liberty of conscience, it seems to me that the attitude of our Congress and people toward the Mormon Church is matter for limitless laughter and derision. The Mormon religion is a religion: the negative vote of all of the rest of the globe could not break down that fact; and so I shall probably always go on thinking that the attitude of our Congress and nation toward it is merely good trivial stuff to make fun of

    Am I a friend to the Mormon religion? No. I would like to see it extirpated, but always by fair means, not these Congressional rascalities. If you can destroy it with a book, -- by arguments and facts, not brute force, -- you will do a good and wholesome work. And I should be very far from unwilling to publish such a book in case my business decks were clear. They are not clear now, however, and it is hard to tell when they will be They are piled up with contracts which two or three years -- and possibly four -- will be required to fulfil. I have even had to rule myself out, and am now an author without a publisher. My book is finished and ready, and I have spent nearly ten thousand dollars in its preparation; but it is pigeon-holed indefinitely, to make room for other people's more important books. (In this line of business we generally publish only one -- and never more than two -- books in a year.) I think I could write a very good moral fable about an author who turned publisher in order to get a better show, and got shut up entirely.

    Truly yours,


  • CLRK
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    That's alright 'cause the Book of Mormon catches my attention whereas a lot of the Mark Twain books I had to read in American Literature were the ones that bored me.

  • OzNana
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    I think the boys from South Park were right about the Book of Mormon - the episode about Joseph Smith just about broke me up (Tum Tee Tum Tum Tum)!. I find it interesting that Mormons commly ask you a) have you read the book of Mormon and b) if you have, do you think it (or such a book) could have been written by an ordinary mortal. My answer is yes, and yes. There are people such as Tolkien who have written books steeped in mythology etc, who are far better writers. You really do have to be a bit slow to accept such a daft story. Sorry Mormons - you are nice folks, but really...

  • 1 decade ago

    I don't know about it being "chloroform in print" but I heard that when Mark Twain was challenged by a Mormon to produce a passage from the Bible forbidding polygamy that he replied "No man can serve two masters.".

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  • Robin
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Seems accurate. I'd like to see his rendering of Mohammad and his review of the Old and New Testaments.

  • 1 decade ago

    I love Mark Twain -- we could use a few more like him today, he'd really shake up our overly politicaly correct society

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    "It ain't the parts of the Bible I don't understand that bother me, it's the parts that I do understand"

    - Mark Twain

    I haven't read the book of mormon, but I suspect I would probably agree with Twain.

    Source(s): New post @
  • 1 decade ago

    I think he felt the same about the Bible.

  • 1 decade ago

    Absolutely right. It bored me to tears.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I think Mr. Twain was too politically correct in his summation of the most absurd literary product in the history of written language.

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