Mark Twain Speaks From His Berkeley Grave

Writer gives his thoughts on the dead

Monday, Dec 15, 2008  |  Updated 12:57 PM PDT
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Mark Twain Speaks From His Berkeley Grave

Mark Twain speaks from the dead thanks to an archive at UC Berkeley.

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It only took a 100 years or so, but the world is finally getting a piece of Mark Twain's mind on the subject of free expression and whether it's safer for your words to be expressed after you're dead.

"We have charity for what the dead say. We may disapprove of what they say, but we do not insult them, we do not revile them, as knowing they cannot now defend themselves. If they should speak, what revelations there would be!" Twain observed in "The Privilege of the Grave," an essay written in 1905, and long unpublished, that will appear in the issue of The New Yorker that comes out Monday.

"Now there is hardly one of us but would dearly like to reveal these secrets of ours; we know we cannot do it in life, then why not do it from the grave, and have the satisfaction of it?"

The essay is part of the Mark Twain archive at the University of California-Berkeley.

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