The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

Mark Twain. Photo: skeeze [CC0] via Pixabay.

The Wit and Wisdom of Mark TwainThe Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain by Mark Twain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was surprised by Mark Twain's views on women. I have become accustomed to nineteenth-century authors verging on the misogynistic, but Twain, at least from this collection of quotes, would appear to be the exception to the rule. For instance (p. 6):
No civilization can be perfect until exact equality between man and woman is included.
This is a bit rich, of course, because Twain relied heavily on his wife, Olivia Langdon Clemens, although he seems to have worked hard to keep the family financially afloat. Twain writes (p. 6):
There is only one good sex. The female one.
Yet Twain was critical of humans (p. 5):
Such is the human race. Often it does seem such a pity that Noah didn't miss the boat.
There are many other quotes on religion, nationalism, the liberal ideal (as it relates to monarchy versus a republic), and socialisation. For example (p. 54):
We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own: they are transmitted to us, trained into us.
Yet his pithy sayings are usually humorous (p. 54):
Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid.
I did not know that Twain had to declare bankruptcy in 1894. I had assumed that he was successful and that was that. But his ironic wit may well have been a result of his financial trials and tribulations: he went on an international lecture tour to make ends meet (p. 46):
To be busy is man's only happiness.
It makes me wonder how he maintained his sense of humour when things went awry. Maybe that his wife owned the rights to his work helped, hence his admiration for her. He was also experienced in the attitudes of the world (p. 50):
The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.
I have now read a few of these Dover Thrift Editions of The Wit and Wisdom of..., and although they are quite short, and are not truly "books", there is much to learn from an intense immersion in the highlights of the greats of the past, and Twain is no exception.