Mark Twain on the Bible

At the True Colors Conference this weekend, I attended a workshop entitled The Bible: Word of Death or Voice of Hope? In the packet of materials provided by presenter Rev. Alice O’Donovan, she included the following quote from a Twain Biography:

In 1905 the Brooklyn Public Library removed Twain’s books, Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, and Tom Sawyer, as bad examples.

In response Mark Twain said, “I wrote Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn for adults exclusively, and it always distresses me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years. old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again…” (Paine, p. 1281)

This post has 2 Comments

  1. Anonymous on August 11, 2006 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks for providing Twain’s full quote on this matter. I’ve seen the partial quote many times, in which the first half is cited as some kind of proof that Twain objected to children reading his books. The irony becomes readily apparent with the full quote. (

  2. Anonymous on November 19, 2007 at 12:07 am

    Great quote. Twain’s books are classics and many are now available online like Perconal Recollections of Joan of Arc

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