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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 1885 for a meeting of the Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford, Connecticut. In the essay, Twain laments the dour ways in which men of America's Gilded Age employ man's "most faithfull friend." He concludes by insisting that: "the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thou On the Decay of the Art of Lying is a short essay written by Mark Twain in 1885 for a meeting of the Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford, Connecticut. In the essay, Twain laments the dour ways in which men of America's Gilded Age employ man's "most faithfull 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."


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On the Decay of the Art of Lying is a short essay written by Mark Twain in 1885 for a meeting of the Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford, Connecticut. In the essay, Twain laments the dour ways in which men of America's Gilded Age employ man's "most faithfull friend." He concludes by insisting that: "the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thou On the Decay of the Art of Lying is a short essay written by Mark Twain in 1885 for a meeting of the Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford, Connecticut. In the essay, Twain laments the dour ways in which men of America's Gilded Age employ man's "most faithfull 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."

30 review for On the Decay of the Art of Lying

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    On the Decay of the Art of Lying, Mark Twain تاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و دوم ماه ژوئن سال 2003 میلادی عنوان: انحطاط فن دروغگويی و چند داستان دیگر؛ نویسنده: مارک تواین؛ مترجم: کاظم عمادی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نشر و پژوهش دادار، 1381، در 144 ص، شابک: 9647294433؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alex Ankarr

    Less satirical than you might expect from the title, sharp, funny, memorable.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tatuu

    Heyo Liars!!!! "Lying is universal—we all do it. Therefore, 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 Heyo Liars!!!! "Lying is universal—we all do it. Therefore, 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." Okay, we all lie. That is the truth. We all are judicious liars. Tell me the truth, how honestly do you answer this question, "How are you."? As far as I am concerned, I don't go telling everyone about how I truly am. I put on my best smile and answer, "I am FINE." knowing very well that I am not. Liar! Then comes the silent lies that dominate our lives. According to Mark Twain, a silent lie is "the deception which one conveys by simply keeping still and concealing the truth. Many obstinate truth-mongers indulge in this dissipation, imagining that if they speak no lie, they lie not at all."...the unspoken truths are lies. Liar! Mark Twain says, "An injurious lie is an uncommendable thing; and so, also, and in the same degree, is an injurious truth—a fact that is recognized by the law of libel." This is partly a lie, okay, partly true. It's better an injurious truth than a lie. I mean, the truth remains, deal with it. An injurious lie is unforgivable. Don't lie!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vaishali

    "Apriya na satyam na bravit." - Sanskrit maxim ("That which is not beautiful is untruthful and should not be said.") ------------ "An awkward, unscientific lie is often as ineffectual as the truth." "Everybody lies--every day, every hour, awake, asleep, in his dreams, in his joy, in his mourning." "What I bemoan is the growing prevalence of the brutal truth. Let us do what we can to eradicate it. An injurious truth has no merit over an injurious lie." "... A stranger called and interrupted you. You sa "Apriya na satyam na bravit." - Sanskrit maxim ("That which is not beautiful is untruthful and should not be said.") ------------ "An awkward, unscientific lie is often as ineffectual as the truth." "Everybody lies--every day, every hour, awake, asleep, in his dreams, in his joy, in his mourning." "What I bemoan is the growing prevalence of the brutal truth. Let us do what we can to eradicate it. An injurious truth has no merit over an injurious lie." "... A stranger called and interrupted you. You said with your hearty tongue, "I'm glad to see you," and said with your heartier soul, "I wish you were with the cannibals and it was dinner time ..." "None of us could live with an habitual truth-teller; but thank goodness none of us has to. An habitual truth-teller is simply an impossible creature; he does not exist; he never has existed."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erica Leigh

    I've never heard of anyone arguing for dishonesty, but this essay/novella made sense. Mark Twain basically says that lying is good, so long as its intentions are good. And it's true--everyone does lie. It's human nature. Twain goes as far as to say that it's beneficial in relationshis. An interesting, entertaining, short read!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Juan Pablo López

    Twain explica en narraciones breves que quien obra honradamente no se ha podido adaptar al mundo y sufrirá las consecuencias, que los libros de ética solo cuentan la mitad de las cosas y que mentir es un asunto justo y necesario, un asunto de formación y responsabilidad.

  7. 5 out of 5

    S©aP

    Piccoli saggi, da piccola editoria. Talvolta, entrare nel laboratorio di un genio può essere interessante. Avvicinare invece le prolusioni marginali di uno scrittore, pur bravo, aggiunge poco. Resta interesse monografico, da studioso o cultore. Credo, oltretutto, che la ricerca spasmodica di qualcosa da pubblicare a ogni costo, oggi ingolfi un mercato già strabordante di inutilità, e non giovi all'intrattenimento letterario.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nithesh

    I won't consider this as a book. It is a small essay available on Kindle. I used to feel guilty about lying or angry about others lying to me. This makes me feel good about harmless lies that make others happy

  9. 4 out of 5

    jamie

    Short, clever and true. All of us lie but twain urges us to lie in ways that will build each other up-not tear each other down. Reading this book made me think about all the times I have lied to make someone feel better about themselves. I hate lying though and when I do compliment someone I usually mean it. But there are certain situations when it is necessary to not say what you really mean. For example is someone is very late and you having been sitting there for 30 min and they didn't even b Short, clever and true. All of us lie but twain urges us to lie in ways that will build each other up-not tear each other down. Reading this book made me think about all the times I have lied to make someone feel better about themselves. I hate lying though and when I do compliment someone I usually mean it. But there are certain situations when it is necessary to not say what you really mean. For example is someone is very late and you having been sitting there for 30 min and they didn't even bother to call and let you know I would be very annoyed if they just strolled in unapologetically. I would want to give them a piece of my mind but instead I would just hold my tongue and say it's alright. I remember hearing about a.j. Jacobs and how he tried radical honesty for an entire month. He didn't hold anything back and said exactly what he was thinking. He said it was the worst month of his life. No one appreciated his honesty - especially his wife! It got me thinking a lot about when to be honest and not to be. Many people tell me that I'm too blunt and need to think before I speak. This is something I've been trying to work on for years but I can't help but dislike the fact that I have to lie instead of say what I really think. I wouldn't want someone to lie to me. I would want them to tell me the truth no matter how much it may hurt. Also I don't think a relationship can be genuine if there isn't honesty. My closest relationships are not based on lies and pretentions but on lovingly speaking the truth. Can you really love someone but lie to their face? Twain makes some good points about the benefits of lying but i prefer the truth.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vipassana

    Of course there are people who think they never lie, but it is not so - and this ignorance is one of the very things that shame our so called civilisation. What a fun read! I've thought for a while now that there is a rather wearisome need to be honest all the time. In relationships, there is the almost tyrannical need for honesty, as though it were a mark of the quality of the relationship. Having been the demanding despot at some point of time, this essay gave me an opportunity to laugh at myse Of course there are people who think they never lie, but it is not so - and this ignorance is one of the very things that shame our so called civilisation. What a fun read! I've thought for a while now that there is a rather wearisome need to be honest all the time. In relationships, there is the almost tyrannical need for honesty, as though it were a mark of the quality of the relationship. Having been the demanding despot at some point of time, this essay gave me an opportunity to laugh at myself. Short 10 minute read. Highly recommended. Audio : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2Xxo... E-book : http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2572

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bishnu Bhatta Buttowski

    This book mentions why it is important to lie. Lying for the benefit of others as well as for the good deeds, can be beneficial. Author has pointed lying, as the thing that people need to be taught formally of as one would need to lie at least once in their lifetime.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Matthias

    If Mark Twain were alive today he'd be Stephen Colbert. His writing is funny and wry. This short book/essay is a testimony to his social observation, wisdom and wit. If you don't come away from this reading saying "I'm a liar, and I hope to become better at lying" you are either in need of a humor transplant or a terrible liar.

  13. 4 out of 5

    JennRa

    Un libro lleno de sarcasmo e ironía, una crítica mordaz a los libros de "moral" y a la religión, principalmente a la cristiana.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    Excellent read; short and amusing; painfully true - worth reading again; read on my Android on my 30 minute lunch break;

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zach Patterson

    Children and fools always speak the truth.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tomson Titus

    Mark Twain puts forward a great argument for judicious lying. He almost says its our duty as a polite society to lie judiciously.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steve mitchell

    Facetious and fun this is Mark twain running wild with wit. funny and over the top, hyperbole at its finest. quick short essay

  18. 5 out of 5

    Grant

    Realistically morally unrelenting. Twain has delivered hard truths about lies in this gem of an essay. His humor and ruthless honesty may leave one with unnecessary pretense feeling naked and afraid as it were when discussing the practicalities of lying in everyday life, and the impracticalities of unnecessarily ruthless honesty. The irony of his story is only matched by its wit and is certainly rivaled by its wisdom. His core message is founded on what has been called "street smarts" before: the Realistically morally unrelenting. Twain has delivered hard truths about lies in this gem of an essay. His humor and ruthless honesty may leave one with unnecessary pretense feeling naked and afraid as it were when discussing the practicalities of lying in everyday life, and the impracticalities of unnecessarily ruthless honesty. The irony of his story is only matched by its wit and is certainly rivaled by its wisdom. His core message is founded on what has been called "street smarts" before: the sense of when to tell a judicious white lie. His advice on the matter will no doubt prove timeless.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    "Lying is universal--we all do it. Therefore, 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 "Lying is universal--we all do it. Therefore, 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." Satire or not, this essay explained "judicious" lying much better than the tired "Would you lie to Nazis about the location of any Jews you know?" or something. High school English class, conversations related to Kant, etc. Twain takes the idea lying, something most claim to hate and instead demand for transparency, and turns the Lie into a virtue. Lies make mankind civilized. "The highest perfection of politeness is only a beautiful edifice, built, from the base to the dome, of grateful and gilded forms of charitable and unselfish lying." The exchange of "How are you?" "Fine, thank you." and all its all incarnations mostly come off as conversation fillers; with closer friends one may even tack on how they're actually doing, even if it's the exact opposite of "fine" (I know I'm guilty of it on occasion). But it's polite to show interest in someone else's well-being, even if you don't. And it's polite to answer as if you are willing to always tell them how you really feel. Along with unselfish lies, Twain brings up silent lies. Sometimes it's easiest to say nothing to prevent getting trapped by your own words; however his examples focus on staying silent for the benefit of others. In some situations, there are trivial matters you don't mention for various reason, often boiling down to keeping the peace. Not that it works for everything. Silence after being asked the classic "Does this make my butt look big?" can never end well. Lying is a tool that, according to Twain, should be used with good intentions and the benefit others instead of lying to bring others down for one's own benefit.

  20. 5 out of 5

    wally

    this is a short sweet and to the point little piece of writing that ought to make anyone feel good who is exasperated with all the lying cheating thievin no good two-tiimin back-stabbin mind-boggling events that one may be concerned about.... ...like, demon-possession. say you're all riled up about demon-possession, what w/the goings on around the world, all the shape-changers and fruit-loop peddlers you're likely to see, say, if you turn on the evening news, any national network brand and then s this is a short sweet and to the point little piece of writing that ought to make anyone feel good who is exasperated with all the lying cheating thievin no good two-tiimin back-stabbin mind-boggling events that one may be concerned about.... ...like, demon-possession. say you're all riled up about demon-possession, what w/the goings on around the world, all the shape-changers and fruit-loop peddlers you're likely to see, say, if you turn on the evening news, any national network brand and then some. "children and fools always speak the truth. the deduction is plain--adults and wise persons never speak it. "of course there are people who think they never lie, but it is no so--and ignorance is one of the very bad things that shame our our so-called civilization. everybody lies--every day; every hour; awake; asleep; in his dreams; in his joys; in his mourning; if he keeps his tongue still, his hands, his feet, his eyes, his attitude, will convey deception--and purposely." amen brother! i think these kind of liars are the type that piss me off the mostus. all their high cockolorum and rooty toot shoes. "the iron-souled truth-monger would plainly manifest, or even utter the fact that he didn't want to see those people--and he would be an ass, and inflict totally unnecessary pain." so, yeah, makes sense just to brush the dust off your feet and have no more to do with them. "the man who speaks an injurious truth lest his soul not be saved if he do otherwise, should reflect that that sort of soul is not strictly worth saving." amen brother. so, anyway, this was a short sweet and to the point piece...check it out. heh heh! one last quote that struck my fancy. "i don't mean the least harm or disrespect, but really you have been lying like smoke ever since i've been sitting here. it has caused me a good deal of pain, because i'm not used to it." --very well then, let's see what truths may be here--

  21. 5 out of 5

    Thompson

    A quick enjoyable read. If you have a few minutes and do not participate in the current trend of being offended by everything, then read this. A must for any lawyer, politician, or journalist.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rui Alves de Sousa

    Interessante antologia de textos dispersos de um dos grandes satíricos da literatura de língua inglesa. Alguns dos momentos de prosa são mais aguçados e aperfeiçoados do que outros (daí notar-se a diferença constante entre a pujança de cada texto, e o formato específico em que cada um se enquadra), mas é um livro óptimo para dar a conhecer uma parte do génio de Mark Twain - isto para aqueles que nunca tiveram a oportunidade de ler o Tom Sawyer ou o Huckelberry Finn.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    I have read several books by Mark Twain and his writing is very varied and entertaining. This short essay was free off Amazon and this humorous read discusses on the lost art of lying and the many different ways that people lie. Mark Twain's work has lasted the test of time and in this modern world I still think his work is worth reading.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shawn A Zimmerman

    Food for thought. This is a wonderfully insightful essay about the merits of unselfish and judicious lying. Naught much more than a brief read, it is a delightful way to pass some time, and ruminate on some interesting arguements.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nisha Sadasivan

    "But I am but a new and feeble student in this gracious art; I cannot instruct this club." -Mark Twain Humility- thine name be Mark Twain.. Truth be told - all of us are liars, silent or open... and that includes Mahatma Gandhi :) Now, that's an encouragement.

  26. 4 out of 5

    BR King

    Classic Mark Twain I loved it. It bites us all just where it is deserved. I recommend this for anyone with a brain.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Faiza Sattar

    On the Decay of the Art of Lying by Mark Twain  ★★★★☆ (4/5) Mark Twain's commentary on America's Gilded Age is succinct, good-natured and sufficiently humorous to make one deliberate upon the nature of Lying. Lack of verity, rooted in societal structures, will only lead to corruption of the self. This short read was quite reminiscent of the writings of Francis Bacon. A selection of my favourite passages from the book • the Lie, as a recreation, a solace, a refuge in time of need, the fourth Grace, On the Decay of the Art of Lying by Mark Twain  ★★★★☆ (4/5) Mark Twain's commentary on America's Gilded Age is succinct, good-natured and sufficiently humorous to make one deliberate upon the nature of Lying. Lack of verity, rooted in societal structures, will only lead to corruption of the self. This short read was quite reminiscent of the writings of Francis Bacon. A selection of my favourite passages from the book • the Lie, as a recreation, a solace, a refuge in time of need, the fourth Grace, the tenth Muse, man's best and surest friend, is immortal, and cannot perish from the earth • It had been my intention, at this point, to mention names and to give illustrative specimens, but indications observable about me admonished me to beware of the particulars and confine myself to generalities • An awkward, unscientific lie is often as ineffectual as the truth. • The highest perfection of politeness is only a beautiful edifice, built, from the base to the dome, of graceful and gilded forms of charitable and unselfish lying • The man who speaks an injurious truth lest his soul be not saved if he do otherwise, should reflect that that sort of a soul is not strictly worth saving • Lying is universal—we all do it. Therefore, 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 

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sheila Goicea

    "Lying is universal--we all do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for use diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for other's 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 hig "Lying is universal--we all do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for use diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for other's 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." - Mark Twain

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Pacciarini

    Un texto breve y divertido, como la mayoría de los textos de Clemmens! La mentira es un arte en decadencia ... En otros tiempos, se buscaba que la mentira fuese verosímil. Se mentía sin subestimar el criterio del interlocutor. Hoy día todo vale, porque la locura imperante hace que las mas absurdas e improbables situaciones sean perfectamente posibles. El mas grotesco de los patanes puede llegar a presidente valiéndose de la mentira, llegar a viejo y morir siendo recordado como un héroe. ..!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alejandra Sandoval

    3/5 Se nota la posición del autor con respecto a la religión y a la moral. Hay ciertos pensamientos que comparto con él, pero hay otros que no. Es cierto que mentir es "parte de la vida"... pero no considero que se deba de ver cómo algo bueno. Hubieron relatos que hacían ver que los "malos" siempre se salen con la suya... y aunque (lamentablemente) la mayor parte de las veces es verdad, no siempre se cumple. A pesar de todo me gustó la parte introductoria del libro, el tercer relato y algunas id 3/5 Se nota la posición del autor con respecto a la religión y a la moral. Hay ciertos pensamientos que comparto con él, pero hay otros que no. Es cierto que mentir es "parte de la vida"... pero no considero que se deba de ver cómo algo bueno. Hubieron relatos que hacían ver que los "malos" siempre se salen con la suya... y aunque (lamentablemente) la mayor parte de las veces es verdad, no siempre se cumple. A pesar de todo me gustó la parte introductoria del libro, el tercer relato y algunas ideas en las cartas del final.

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