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Mark Twain: A Skeptic's Progress
Albert Bigelow Paine (1861–1937)
In this series of seven photographs, taken in 1906, the author relaxes in a rocking chair on a porch in Dublin, New Hampshire, smoking a cigar. Twain's accompanying note explained that the series "registers with scientific precision, stage by stage, the progress of a moral purpose through the mind of the human race's Oldest Friend." To further explicate his thought process, Twain inscribed each print with a continuous caption, which concludes with mock self-contentment: "Oh, never mind, I reckon I'm good enough just as I am." He sent them to his friend Mrs. Benjamin and joked that this "series of moral photographs" could be displayed in her daughter's bedroom to provide moral instruction. These photographs are a vivid example of Twain's playful and humorous public persona.