Mark Twain’s Private War with God

Presented by Alan Brown, Ph.D., professor of English at the University of West Alabama

In this presentation, Brown will show how Mark Twain intentionally concealed his grudge against God for most of his life to protect the public image he had carefully cultivated as the creator of Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher and Huck Finn. Even though he had directed his anger against his maker in letters, notebooks and essays for years, none of this material was published in his lifetime. Twain’s public displays of piety, particularly after his marriage to Olivia Langdon in 1870, masked his private criticisms of religion. In the 1890s, however, his war with God escalated following the loss of his fortune, the death of his daughter Suzy, and his wife’s and daughter Jean’s lingering illnesses. Brown will read short selections from several of the essays contained in Letters from the Earth and from his autobiography to show how Twain’s personal reverses led to his most vitriolic literary assaults against the deity. He will illustrate his presentation with a short slide show of Twain’s life and with a timeline of Twain’s life and career.

Brown will provide his own slide projector, but he will need the use of a screen and microphone.

Contact Alan Brown to book this presentation
abrown@uwa.edu
(205) 652-3521