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by Mark Twain
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Christian Science begins, as Garry Wills notes in his introduction, with Twain's description of a man who "falls off a cliff and finds his bones projecting from him like the arms of a hat rack. After a course of treatment from a Christian Science practitioner, he calls in a veterinarian and pays the Christian Scientist with an imaginary check for an imaginary cure." Although Twain recognized that everyone was born with "the power which a man's imagination has over his body to heal it or make it sick," he was deeply suspicious of the empire-building, power-mongering, delusions, and evasions of the founder of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy. Wills notes that "Christian Science can be read at several levels, all rewarding--first, as a satire on Christian Science's wilder pretensions and its founder's deceptions; then, as an example of Twain's regard for language as the indicator of mental and moral conditions; and finally as part of a biographical descent into the nihilism of his last days. On all these counts the book gets us very close to the heart of American culture."
Purchase one of 1st World Library's Classic Books and help support our free internet library of downloadable eBooks. Visit us online at www.1stWorldLibrary.ORG - - This last summer, when I was on my way back to Vienna from the Appetite-Cure in the mountains, I fell over a cliff in the twilight, and broke some arms and legs and one thing or another, and by good luck was found by some peasants who had lost an ass, and they carried me to the nearest habitation, which was one of those large, low, thatch-roofed farm-houses, with apartments in the garret for the family, and a cunning little porch under the deep gable decorated with boxes of bright colored flowers and cats; on the ground floor a large and light sitting-room, separated from the milch-cattle apartment by a partition; and in the front yard rose stately and fine the wealth and pride of the house, the manure-pile. That sentence is Germanic, and shows that I am acquiring that sort of mastery of the art and spirit of the language which enables a man to travel all day in one sentence without changing cars. There was a village a mile away, and a horse doctor lived there, but there was no surgeon. It seemed a bad outlook; mine was distinctly a surgery case. Then it was remembered that a lady from Boston was summering in that village, and she was a Christian Science doctor and could cure anything. So she was sent for. It was night by this time, and she could not conveniently come, but sent word that it was no matter, there was no hurry, she would give me "absent treatment" now, and come in the morning; meantime she begged me to make myself tranquil and comfor-table and remember that there was nothing the matter with me. I thought there must be some mistake.
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