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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 thoughtfu 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 thoughtfu 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. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    On the Decay of the Art of Lying, Mark Twain On the Decay of the Art of Lying, is a short essay written by Mark Twain in 1880 for a meeting of the Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford, Connecticut. Twain published the text in The Stolen White Elephant Etc. (1882). "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 On the Decay of the Art of Lying, Mark Twain On the Decay of the Art of Lying, is a short essay written by Mark Twain in 1880 for a meeting of the Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford, Connecticut. Twain published the text in The Stolen White Elephant Etc. (1882). "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." تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز 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؛ موضوع: مقاله های نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 19 م مارک تواین، متن این مقاله را به انجمن تاریخ و باستانشناسی هارتفورد تقدیم کرده است. ایشان در این مقاله ی کوتاه (5 صفحه)، میگویند: «دروغ یک نوع: تفریح و سرگرمی، تسلیت و دلداری، ملجا و پناهی در بدبختی، و بهترین، و شفیقترین دوست نوع بشر است»؛ ... «آنگاه که زندگی برایت دشوار میشود، کوشش کن، برای کسیکه زندگی در نظرش دشوارتر است، کاری بکنی، آنگاه خواهی دید، چقدر آسوده تر شده ای.» پایان نقل. ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alex Ankarr

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

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael Sorbello

    A very charming essay regarding the potential positive nature of lying and how it is ultimately unavoidable. It's a thought-provoking piece for sure, it makes you think about how you subconsciously lie to yourself and to others on a regular basis without even being fully aware of it for the most part. However, this is not portrayed as a negative thing at all, it explains how it is not only natural, but how it can have a surprisingly positive impact on people. This can be summed up with a final q A very charming essay regarding the potential positive nature of lying and how it is ultimately unavoidable. It's a thought-provoking piece for sure, it makes you think about how you subconsciously lie to yourself and to others on a regular basis without even being fully aware of it for the most part. However, this is not portrayed as a negative thing at all, it explains how it is not only natural, but how it can have a surprisingly positive impact on people. This can be summed up with a final quote near the very end of the essay. "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."

  4. 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 b 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!

  5. 4 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 l "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."

  6. 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!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Charles van Buren

    Suggested rules for lying This review is of the free Kindle edition Publication date: October 4, 2009 Publisher: Public Domain Books Language: English ASIN: B002RKRUTU As much as I admire Mark Twain as a humorist, I have to admit that the title is funnier than the essay. It is a pretty good essay concerning some truths about lying. In it Twain opposes both injurious truth and injurious lying. At the Amazon listing for this essay, the comments an Suggested rules for lying This review is of the free Kindle edition Publication date: October 4, 2009 Publisher: Public Domain Books Language: English ASIN: B002RKRUTU As much as I admire Mark Twain as a humorist, I have to admit that the title is funnier than the essay. It is a pretty good essay concerning some truths about lying. In it Twain opposes both injurious truth and injurious lying. At the Amazon listing for this essay, the comments and reviews posted by the publisher or by Amazon concern John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. Not Twain's essay on lying.

  8. 5 out of 5

    david

    Short. Sweet. Sublime. Superb. A timeless 'Twain.'

  9. 5 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 myself. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 5 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. 5 out of 5

    JZ

    "the truth would have cost you both pain." Charitable lying is better than the brutal truth. Don't pass away while listening. "An injurious lie is an uncommendable thing, and so also, in the same degree, is an injurious truth, a fact that is recognized by the law of libel." What's a fellow to do? Find out here.

  14. 5 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

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

  17. 5 out of 5

    Zach Patterson

    Children and fools always speak the truth.

  18. 4 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

  19. 4 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 bran 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. 4 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 se 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lectiophile

    "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.

  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. 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.

  26. 4 out of 5

    SheAintGotNoShoes

    Yet another gem by Mr C

  27. 5 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.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Sanchez

    Short Story by the master, Mark Twain. Story which he submitted for a competition, which he lost. Funny "defense" for the art and utility of lying.

  29. 5 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 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 

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Because Twain was a very peculiar character, it gets really hard to tell whether he is joking or not when he says things like "One ought always to lie, when one can do good by it" or "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; (...) Then shall we be rid of the rank and pestilent truth that is rotting the land; then shall we be great and good and beautiful, and worthy dwellers in a world where even benig Because Twain was a very peculiar character, it gets really hard to tell whether he is joking or not when he says things like "One ought always to lie, when one can do good by it" or "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; (...) Then shall we be rid of the rank and pestilent truth that is rotting the land; then shall we be great and good and beautiful, and worthy dwellers in a world where even benign Nature habitually lies, except when she promises execrable weather." That his writing style very much appeals to me always becomes evident when I read Twain, but if this is truly his perspective, I cannot fully agree with it: yes, it is indisputable that we lie (unless you have Asperger's maybe), but I do not stand with the idea that white lying should be a moral obligation. Moreover, I disagree that the land is rotten by pestilent truth, on the contrary I would say the land is rotten by pestilent lies. I do not find sugarcoating reassuring, I much rather prefer being told the harsh truth and deal with facts. One could argue that there is no truth, only perspectives, we are all biased anyway. As I can't gainsay that, I would advise to aim for impartiality. Let us not begin with solipsismal and nihilistical arguments, for they leave very little room for ethics to breathe, and a life in society cannot exist without ethics. Of course it would be hypocritical of me to say I myself never lie, but I shan't adopt white lying as an ethical guideline par excellence, excusing it as pseudomercy. I yearn for knowledge, not comfort.

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