Mark Twain: A Skeptic's Progress
This catalog accompanied the Morgan’s 2010 exhibition Mark Twain: A Skeptic's Progress. Mark Twain's life (1835-1910) spanned and era that witnessed the transformation of America and the world by the Industrial Revolution. For Twain, such technological, industrial, and urban developments were the means by which America might become more prosperous and just. But his conflicted love affair with his native South and its rural culture and traditions, his close observation of the natural world, and his skepticism about the possibility of changing human nature made him doubtful about the effectiveness of these means or even the possibility of human progress. In the final two decades of his life, the skeptic saw his worst fears justified in the advance of European imperialism and America's own imperialist ambitions. Only Twain’s faith in the clarity of the written word and its cleansing possibilities remained constant.