Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

Nearly a decade ago, I embarked on an effort to comprehend every possible intersection between American literary and religious history. During that process, someone patiently pointed out to me that there was enough original material in the Christian Science chapter to fill an entire monograph, thus making possible the book you see before you. To Phillip Barrish and Brian Bremen, I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for their patient collegial advice throughout the process of writing this book. Tom...

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Introduction: Restitution and Modernity

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pp. 1-11

Since 2010, American actor Val Kilmer has toured the United States performing one-man shows in the character of Mark Twain. Bedecked in a white suit and disheveled wig, he portrays the familiar Sam Clemens of the turn of the century—curmudgeonly, lethally clever, skeptical of everything, and wrestling with his legacy as an author. Less familiar to audiences is the Clemens who was also deep in the throes of a vitriolic obsession with Mary Baker Eddy, the venerable leader of a growing...

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1. The Falling Apple: The Rise of Christian Science

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pp. 12-56

The origin story of Christian Science was refined over time, but the final and best-known version goes like this: On February 3, 1866, Mary Patterson—the future Mary Baker G. Eddy1—was rendered unconscious after falling on a patch of ice in Lynn, Massachusetts. She was taken to the home of her friends and treated by Alvin M. Cushing, who considered her injury to be serious.2 Despite the protests of Dr. Cushing, she insisted on being taken home, where she was treated by two neighborhood women. These caregivers reportedly despaired for their charge’s life,...

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2. Build Therefore Your Own World: The Restitution Narratives of Frances Hodgson Burnett

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pp. 57-88

In the climactic scene of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (1911), the young invalid Colin rises from his wheelchair to walk before his father, a grief-stricken widower whose impenetrable sorrow has contributed to the neglect of his son and brought about the decay of his manor house and its abandoned gardens. Colin’s ailment is psychosomatic, however, the result of absorbing a belief in his imminent death from the adults around him. Having endured the ineffectual treatment of...

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3. Error Uncovered: Mark Twain and the Limits of Demystification

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pp. 89-117

In 1899, Josephine Woodbury, one of the great heretics of Mary Baker Eddy’s movement, sued her former mentor for libel. She was represented by a Boston attorney named Frederick Peabody, and together, they stood at the center of a public relations fiasco for the Mother Church that metastasized throughout the first decade of the twentieth century. Woodbury became something of a religious visionary herself, gathering a large following of individuals who practiced asceticism and sought mystical...

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4. All the News Worth Reading: Literary Journalism and the Christian Science Monitor

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pp. 118-156

In 1904, Georgine Milmine, a native Canadian and staff writer for the Auburn Citizen, approached Ida Tarbell, then an editor at McClure’s, the famous muckraking and literary magazine, with a manuscript and a voluminous stack of notes on the subject of Mary Baker Eddy. Tarbell was fresh off the success of her landmark series The History of the Standard Oil Company, which was released as a book that same year. One wonders if she recognized the other journalist’s likely conscious attempt to emulate...

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5. The Tragedy of Desire: Social Justice, Gender Politics, and Theodore Dreiser’s The “Genius”

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pp. 157-187

In 1918, a decade after the publication of the McClure’s series and the founding of the Christian Science Monitor, eight years after the death of both Mary Baker Eddy and Mark Twain, Upton Sinclair published The Profits of Religion at his own expense. This book included Christian Science in a long list of religions that, according to its author, were fleecing a gullible public. A few months after its appearance, Stephen Alison, a socialist and editor of the Christian Scientist, an unofficial (meaning...

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Conclusion

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pp. 188-196

In 1906, Mark Twain returned to his memoirs after a two-year hiatus and began quoting from and commenting on pieces of a biography his daughter Susy had written about him when she was very young. His autobiographical dictation of Thursday, December 27, 1906, includes the following excerpt (original spelling and punctuation preserved):

Yes the Mind Cure does seem to be working wonderfully, papa who has been using glasses now, for more than a year, has laid them off entirely....

Bibliography

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pp. 197-204

Index

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pp. 205-215