On the Decay of the Art of Lying

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"On the Decay of the Art of Lying" is a short essay written by Mark Twain in 1880 for a meeting of the Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford, Connecticut. Twain published the text in The Stolen White Elephant Etc. (1882).[1]

In the essay, Twain laments the four ways in which men of America's Gilded Age employ man's 'most faithful friend'. He concludes by insisting that:

"the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling."

The essay, Twain notes, was "offered for the thirty-dollar prize," but it "did not take the prize."

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Twain, Mark. Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays, 1852-1890. Ed. by Louis J. Budd. New York: Library of America, 1992. 1020.

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