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Print Story November 24, 1999
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Mark Twain
The Mysterious Stranger
1916

This is Mark Twain's unflinching attack on the hypocrisy of organized religion -- the "moral" order that protects power, wealth, and the status quo of human misery and oppression. A princely young gentleman named Satan appears in a remote Austrian village in 1590 and performs a series of magical feats. Lives are changed and mayhem follows -- witch trials, mass hysteria, and radical redistribution of wealth. Satan exits with a brief explanation, "Your universe and its contents ... are so frankly and hysterically insane ... a grotesque and foolish dream."


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