Directory of Mark Twain's maxims, quotations, and various opinions:



When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
- Notebook, 1898

No man has a wholly undiseased mind; in one way or another all men are mad.
- "The Memorable Assassination"

Heaven knows insanity was disreputable enough, long ago; but now that the lawyers have got to cutting every gallows rope and picking every prison lock with it, it is become a sneaking villainy that ought to hang and keep on hanging its sudden possessors until evil-doers should conclude that the safest plan was to never claim to have it until they came by it legitimately. The very calibre of the people the lawyers most frequently try to save by the insanity subterfuge ought to laugh the plea out of the courts, one would think.
- "Unburlesquable Things," The Galaxy Magazine, July 1870

The way it is now, the asylums can hold the sane people, but if we tried to shut up the insane we should run out of building materials.
- Following the Equator

...we all know that in all matters of mere opinion that [every] man is insane--just as insane as we are...we know exactly where to put our finger upon his insanity: it is where his opinion differs from ours....All Democrats are insane, but not one of them knows it. None but the Republicans. All the Republicans are insane, but only the Democrats can perceive it. The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
- Christian Science

Let us consider that we are all partially insane. It will explain us to each other; it will unriddle many riddles; it will make clear and simple many things which are involved in haunting and harassing difficulties and obscurities now.
- Christian Science

Portrait postcard
Mark Twain Postcard

But we are all insane, anyway. Note the mountain-climbers.
- Mark Twain's Notebook

Really, what we want now, is not laws against crime, but a law against insanity. That is where the true evil lies.
- "A New Crime," 1875

Once I talked to the inmates of an insane asylum in Hartford. I have talked to idiots a thousand times, but only once to the insane...
- quoted in Isabel Lyon's Journal, 15 February 1906

Why, no one is sane, straight along, year in & year out, & we all know it. Our insanities are of varying sorts, & express themselves in various forms --fortunately harmless forms as a rule -- but in whatever form they occur an immense upheaval of feeling can at any time topple us distinctly over the sanity-line for a little while; & then if our form happens to be of the murderous kind we must look out -- & so must the spectator.
- Letter to Joseph Twichell, 10 September 1901

Every extraordinary occurrence unsettles the heads of hundreds of thousands of men for a few moments or hours or days.
- Letter to Joseph Twichell, 10 September 1901

No ruler is ever slain but the tremendous details of it are ravenously devoured by a hundred thousand men whose minds dwell, unaware, near the temporary-insanity frontier -- & over they go, now! There is a day -- two days -- three -- during which no Ruler would be safe from perhaps the half of them; & there is a single moment wherein he would not be safe from any of them, no doubt.
- Letter to Joseph Twichell, 10 September 1901

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