silhouette of a horned devil

The Mysterious Stranger

by Mark Twain

Start Free Trial

Why are you depicting the wrong version of No.44 The Mysterious Stranger?  The version you have is simply called The Mysterious Stranger is has been found to be fraudulent and created by Albert Bigelow Paine, who threw together several of Twain's unfinished pieces into this story.  Mark Twain had his own version, which is titled No. 44 The Mysterious Stranger.  Where the central stranger is named No.44, not Satan.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Twain actually wrote multiple versions, each unfinished, but all included Satan as a character. One version, The Chronicle of Young Satan, is about the nephew of Satan who lives in an Austrian village in the Middle Ages.

Another version, Schoolhouse Hill, has Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer involved with Satan, who is referred to as "No. 44". It takes place in America.

The third version is called No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger, taking place in the Middle Ages as the first version did. This version introduces the duality of a person, the "Waking Self" and the "Dream Self".  It has an ending whereas the other two are unfinished.

Paine had possession of Twain's unfinished works after his death and added an ending he thought Twain had intended. After his death, the manuscripts were released to the public and critics found Paine had chosen the ending from a different version of the story and changed some of Twain's wording. The edition to which you are referring is called the scholarly edition, considered to be what Twain would have published if he had lived.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team