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Directory of Mark Twain's maxims, quotations, and various opinions:

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CRITICISM

Experience has not taught me very much; still it has taught me that it is not wise to criticise a piece of literature, except to an enemy of the person who wrote it; then, if you praise it, that enemy admires you for your honest manliness, & if you dispraise it he admires you for your sound judgment.
- form letter used by Clemens, 1877

I like criticism, but it must be my way.
- Mark Twain's Autobiography

...one mustn't criticize other people on grounds where he can't stand perpendicular himself.
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

I have criticized absent people so often, and then discovered, to my humiliation, that I was talking with their relatives, that I have grown superstitious about that sort of thing and dropped it.
- "Mental Telegraphy"

Mark Twain cartoon
Mark Twain by Thomas Downey
from THE BYSTANDER,
February 17, 1904

A man with a hump-backed uncle mustn't make fun of another man's cross-eyed aunt.
- "Mark Twain on England", New York World N.D.; reprinted in Hartford Courant, 5/14/1879

Criticism is a queer thing. If I print "She was stark naked" - & then proceeded to describe her person in detail, what critic would not howl?--who would venture to leave the book on a parlor table.--but the artist does this & all ages gather around & look & talk & point. I can't say, "They cut his head off, or stabbed him, &c" describe the blood & the agony in his face.
- Notebook #18, Feb. - Sept. 1879

 

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