I am preparing to propose my masters thesis for the Liberal Studies Program
at Georgetown University. I am interested in hearing opinions on the
subject I'd like to write about.
The problem I would like to investigate is Twain's attitudes toward
While I believe he was certainly an irreverant critic of religion, I believe
this assessment of Twain is only partially true. It seems to me that there
is another level of meaning to his life and work that stands in contrast, if
not opposition to this commonly held perception. For instance, there is an
underlying spirituality in Huck Finn (e.g., life on the raft); there is a
prophetic (truth-telling) aspect of CT Yankee, The War Prayer, etc.,
grounded in moral outrage; and Twain's suffering in his later years and its
impact on his writing are reminiscent of wisdom literature.
At the heart of his deconstruction of Victorian religious sensibilities,
Twain is searching for an authentic experience of God or of transcendence
beyond any doctrine and tradition. With The Mysterious Stranger as my focal
point, and using literary criticism, theological hermeneutics, and
sociological analysis, I will try to discern the elements of Twain's
spiritual search and determine how closely linked they are to, at its most
rudimentary level, the Judeo-Christian experience (Jesus, among others, was
also considered irreverant).
Any opinions, responses, etc., would be appreciated. Thanks.