On the Decay of the Art of Lying Audiobook Cover

On the Decay of the Art of Lying

Brian Troxell

Explore Mark Twain's essay on the Decay of the Art of Lying, written for a club gathering in 1885. Twain critiques the misuse of lying during America's Gilded Age and highlights its various forms. Reflecting on self-defense, diplomacy, success, and social entertainment, Twain provides insights still relevant today. He discusses the impact of social media on lying and the consequences of misinformation dissemination. Mark Twain's essay remains influential, showcasing his wit and critical thinking. Readers are prompted to contemplate the ethics and repercussions of lying. Twain's work continues to engage audiences as it explores the decay of the art of lying.

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About Mark Twain and the Essay

Mark Twain, a renowned American writer, penned a short essay titled "On the Decay of the Art of Lying" in 1885. This thought-provoking essay was composed for a gathering of the Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford, Connecticut. In his essay, Twain reflects upon the various ways in which individuals during America's Gilded Age utilize the power of lies. He highlights the significance of lying in society and critiques its misuse.

Reflecting on the Gilded Age

During America's Gilded Age, which spanned from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Twain observes that lying had become a common practice among individuals. He criticizes the society of that time for employing lies in four distinct ways: as a means of self-defense, as a form of diplomacy, as a way to achieve success, and as a social tool for entertainment.

Self-Defense and Diplomacy

In his essay, Twain argues that lying was often employed as a mechanism for self-defense and diplomacy. People would lie in order to protect themselves or to manipulate situations to their advantage. Twain believed that this misuse of lying led to the decay of its true art form.

Achieving Success

Twain suggests that lying became a tool for success during the Gilded Age. People would fabricate stories or exaggerate their achievements to gain recognition and climb the social ladder. However, Twain questions the ethical implications of such behavior and highlights the negative consequences it can have on society.

Social Entertainment

Another aspect of lying in the Gilded Age, as Twain points out, was its role in social entertainment. People would often engage in tall tales and humorous lies to entertain their peers. However, Twain believes that this type of lying can be dangerous as it blurs the line between truth and fiction.

The Essay's Relevance Today

Even though Twain wrote this essay in the late 19th century, its themes and observations remain relevant in today's society. Lying continues to be a prevalent aspect of human behavior, and its misuse is still a cause for concern.

The Impact of Social Media

In the age of social media, the art of lying has taken on a new dimension. People now have platforms to fabricate stories, manipulate images, and present a carefully constructed version of themselves. Twain's critique of lying in the Gilded Age can easily be applied to the present, as individuals use deception to create an online persona.

The Consequences of Misinformation

In a society where misinformation spreads rapidly, the essay's message becomes even more significant. Twain emphasizes the negative consequences that arise from the misuse of lying, including the erosion of trust, the distortion of reality, and the potential harm caused by false information.

Mark Twain's Impact

Mark Twain, known for his wit and satire, remains a prominent figure in American literature. His essay on the decay of the art of lying highlights his keen observation and critical thinking. Twain's work continues to resonate with readers, prompting reflection on the ethics and consequences of lying.


Mark Twain's essay, "On the Decay of the Art of Lying," delves into the prevalent use of lying in America's Gilded Age. He identifies the misuse of lying in self-defense, diplomacy, success, and social entertainment as contributing to the decay of its true art form. Even today, Twain's observations hold relevance, particularly in the age of social media and rampant deception. His essay serves as a reminder of the ethical concerns and consequences associated with lying. As an enduring literary figure, Twain's work continues to provoke thought and engages readers in a critical examination of lying in society.

Additional Info

Book Name: On the Decay of the Art of Lying
Book Format: AudiobookFormat
Authors: Mark Twain
Narrators: Brian Troxell
Genres: History
Audiobook Length: 16M
Publisher: Audible Studios
Language: English
Publish Date: 2012-01-24
Last Price: 6.95 USD

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the title of the essay?

The title of the essay is 'On the Decay of the Art of Lying'

When was this essay written?

Mark Twain composed this essay in 1885

Who was the audience for this essay?

The essay was written for a meeting of the Historical and Antiquarian Club of Hartford, Connecticut

What is the main theme of the essay?

The main theme of the essay is the decline of the art of lying in America's Gilded Age

Did this essay win the prize it was entered for?

No, the essay did not win the thirty-dollar prize it was entered for

Who is the publisher of the audio book?

The audio book is published by Audible Studios

Who is the author of the essay?

The author of the essay is Mark Twain

What is the length of the essay?

The essay is rather short in length

What is the purpose of the essay?

The purpose of the essay is to lament the decline of the art of lying

Are there any user reviews available for this audible book?

Yes, there are user reviews available for this audible book

What do the user reviews say about the book?

The user reviews describe the book as a must-listen and praise its insights on lying


10 reviews for this audiobook
  • Am
    Amy 06-Oct-2023

    This audiobook is a gem! Mark Twain's unique perspective on lying is both thought-provoking and entertaining. I couldn't stop listening to it.

  • Jo
    John 11-Oct-2023

    Mark Twain's wit truly shines in this audiobook. He examines the art of lying in a way that is humorous and insightful. Highly recommended!

  • Sa
    Sarah 19-Oct-2023

    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audiobook. Mark Twain's storytelling ability is unmatched. His exploration of the decay of lying will make you question your own honesty.

  • Mi
    Michael 31-Oct-2023

    Audiobooks like these make me appreciate the works of Mark Twain. His writing style is so engaging, and this particular book is a prime example. Don't miss out!

  • Em
    Emily 16-Nov-2023

    If you're a fan of Mark Twain's clever humor, you'll love this audiobook. The way he dissects the art of lying is both entertaining and thought-provoking.

  • Da
    Daniel 21-Nov-2023

    In this audiobook, Mark Twain effortlessly captures the essence of lies and their impact on society. It's a fascinating exploration that will leave you pondering.

  • Ol
    Olivia 02-Jan-2024

    I couldn't put this audiobook down. Mark Twain's insights into lying are delivered with his signature wit and charm. Highly recommended for fans of his work!

  • Be
    Ben 13-Feb-2024

    Mark Twain's writing never fails to impress, and this audiobook is no exception. It provides a fresh perspective on the art of lying and keeps you engaged from start to finish.

  • So
    Sophia 21-Feb-2024

    I absolutely loved this audiobook! Mark Twain's observations on lying are both humorous and thought-provoking. This is a must-listen for any fan of his work.

  • Ja
    Jacob 28-Mar-2024

    Listening to Mark Twain's take on lying is a delight. He presents his arguments in a way that is easy to understand and relate to. 5 stars!

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