Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The Mysterious Stranger is an unfinished work, and the last novel attempted, by the American author Mark Twain. It was worked on periodically from roughly 1890 up until his death in 1910. The body of work is a serious social commentary by Twain addressing his ideas of the Moral Sense and the "damned human race".
Twain actually wrote multiple versions of this story, each unfinished and each involving the character of "Satan".
Project Gutenberg has an online eBook containing the story.
The Mysterious Stranger was adapted to a short scene in the 1985 claymation film The Adventures of Mark Twain, in which the children visit a planetoid and meet an angel named Satan. He claims to be incapable of performing an evil act as he does not understand the concept of wrongdoing. Satan builds a sandcastle and has the children make clay figures which he then brings to life. Two of the clay men bicker over ownership of a cow, and Satan kills them by mashing them with his palm. He then creates a storm and an earthquake to kill the remaining people and destroy the castle, to the horror of the watching children. Thereafter, the kids leave the planetoid as Satan lectures, "Life itself is only a vision, a dream. Nothing exists save empty space and you, and you are but a thought," ultimately disappearing with the planetoid, an illusion he created himself.
Due to the disturbing nature of this scene, it is edited out of the movie when aired on American television.
Here's the scene: