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

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SHAKESPEARE

Shakespeare on a rock
Illustration from AMERICAN EXAMINER, 1910
from the Dave Thomson collection

If Shakespeare had been born and bred on a barren and unvisited rock in the ocean his mighty intellect would have had no outside material to work with, and could have invented none; and no outside influences, teachings, moldings, persuasions, inspirations, of a valuable sort, and could have invented none; and so Shakespeare would have produced nothing.
- "What Is Man?"

How curious and interesting is the parallel--as far as poverty of biographical details is concerned--between Satan and Shakespeare. ...They are the best-known unknown persons that have ever drawn breath upon the planet.
- "Is Shakespeare Dead?"

Shall I set down the rest of the great Conjecture which constitute the Giant Biography of William Shakespeare? It would strain the Unabridged Dictionary to hold them. He is a brontosaur: nine bones and six hundred barrels of plaster.
- "Is Shakespeare Dead?"

All the rest of his vast history, as furnished by the biographers, is built up, course upon course, of guesses, inferences, theories, conjectures--an Eiffel Tower of artificialities rising sky-high from a very flat and very thin foundation of inconsequential facts.
- "Is Shakespeare Dead?"

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