Wednesday, March 27, 2013

On the Decay of the Art of Lying - by Mark Twain

Free US/UK Kindle Classic

I would guess the American write Mark Twain needs no introduction.  I have blogged before on a few of his more popular works.  This is a bit of a departure for the blog, it is an 1885 essay, "On the Decay of the Art of Lying." (US Edition)  (UK Edition)  Kindle has created a platform for novellas and short stories just as they were close to extinction!  I don't know if even Kindle can save the essay, but let's see . . .

This essay was first delivered as a speech.  Twain is not saying that lying is dead, but rather that the art of lying is a . . . well . . . dying art.
Now let us see what the philosophers say. Note that venerable proverb: Children and fools _always_ speak the truth. The deduction is plain --adults and wise persons _never_ speak it.

A little bit of eccentric formatting with that underlining, but it is easy to overlook.  It may be because these passages have been underlined as favorites by readers.  

Of course there are people who _think_ they never lie, but it is not so--and this ignorance is one of the very things that shame our so-called civilization. Everybody lies--every day; every hour; awake; asleep; in his dreams; in his joy; in his mourning; if he keeps his tongue still, his hands, his feet, his eyes, his attitude, will convey deception--and purposely. Even in sermons--but that is a platitude.

Twain is sardonic. One of the reader reviews says:  

"Once again, Mark Twin is the master of essays, this time about lying. It's done in an over the top fashion, making you realize that we're all liars on a daily basis, and we do it reflexively but that it's a dying art. Twain argues that we don't lie for the right reasons, and we need to address that. The essay is a bit short but still poignant even today..."

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