Mark Twain, circa 1907.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), known by his pen name of Mark Twain, is considered this country’s greatest humorist. William Faulkner even went as far as calling him “the father of American literature.” Here are some of his best and most meaningful quotes.

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” (For obvious reasons, one of my personal favorites!)

“One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat only has nine lives.”

“When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.”

“A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.”

“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”

Portrait by Mathew Brady, 1871.

“If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.” (Indeed; I spent a couple of years there one century.)

“Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

“Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough.”

“There are times when one would like to hang the whole human race, and finish the farce.”

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’. Your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” (My absolute favorite of Twain’s quotes. As an editor and writing coach I strongly encouraged writers to pay heed to this one.)

“Loyalty to the Nation all the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it.” (How true is this, especially these days?)

“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.”

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

“There is no distinctly American criminal class—except Congress.”

And pursuant to the previous quote: “We have the best Government that money can buy.”

“God made the idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.”

“Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.”

Wow, Mark Twain made a lot of sense, didn’t he? And he left us a few gazillion more quotes, so maybe we’ll revisit some of them in a future post.

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