am 27. Februar 1998
Twain's bitter edge kept getting sharper and sharper as he grew older, till finally only the bitterness was left. "The Mysterious Stranger" was his last work, and Twain is full-bore in his hatred of man, God, and everything in between. He was so intent on spilling his bile that he didn't even bother to come up with an ending, which is one of the most sophomoric I've ever seen; Heinlein would say it's equivalent to ending a book by writing "and the little boy fell out of bed and woke up." It's a shame that Twain's writing should be forever tarnished by this final piece of literary drudge, a book so bad only English majors and prison inmates are consigned to reading it. Read some of his earlier work instead (e.g., "Innocents Abroad").
am 28. Juli 1998
The Mysterious Stranger is perhaps the clearest expression of Clemen's unspoken philosophy about the nature and meaning of human life. The author is of course a world-class cynic, sarcastic to a fault, and if he were not so, he would not be the Twain that we know and love. But in this story, we see the full expression of all his sarcastic wit and buried bitterness and hate. Clemens shows himself to be an out-and-out nihilist by the end of the story. I was shocked that he pushed as far as he did in proclaiming the meaning of life to be nothingness, that the full purpose of man in the cosmos was nil, a cruel joke at best. To be sure, the story is a master work from a master writer, but this story more than any other I've read shows Clemens' philosophy to be a very cruel and harsh one, one which only made me feel sorry that he so drastically misunderstood the nature of the universe and its Creator.