"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Twain and Eastern Philosophy

A rare book belonging to Mark Twain is currently part of an exhibit running through March 31 at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Tracing the ongoing influence of Eastern thought on Western culture, the exhibit features a myriad of books in the personal collection of Kent Bicknell, a scholar who has long been fascinated by the subject.

The exhibit, entitled "Imprint: From Walden to Graceland, 200 Years of Asian Spiritual Traditions in Western Thought", contains Asian volumes from the likes of Henry David Thoreau, Elvis Presley and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Twain's contribution is the 1889 book Aryan Sun-Myths: The Origins of Religions.

Best of all, the book actually contains some of Twain's own hand-written notes in the margins, such as this gem on the nature of "saviors" throughout history: "I feel an honest reverence [for saviors] … I was only meaning to slur those liars their followers."

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