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Autobiography of Mark Twain ∙ Complete &…
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Autobiography of Mark Twain ∙ Complete & Authoritative ∙ Volume 1

by Mark Twain

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Mark Twain had a mouth on him, no doubt about it – and that is why it is still so much fun to read the man’s writing today. But even Twain knew that the world was not quite ready for the unexpurgated version of his thoughts that comprises the first two volumes (a third volume is yet to follow) of his autobiography, so he stipulated that the complete biography was not to be published until 100 years after his death – which occurred on April 21, 1910. For those of us lucky enough to be around for the unveiling of the uncensored version of the manuscripts, it was well worth the wait.

Close to half of the material contained in the autobiography has never been published before, and readers have the Mark Twain Project (of the University of California, Berkeley) to thank for making it available now. The previously published material has been published several times in the past, but always in an abridged form guaranteed not to offend. But even the unrestricted version of Twain’s manuscripts is not what readers have come to expect from an autobiography.

Rather than tell the story of his life in chronological order, Twain decided early on that he would dictate his thoughts to a stenographer as they occurred to him – regardless of where they might fit into the story of his life. And, because he wanted them published in the order that he dictated them, reading the two books is more like having a conversation with Twain than anything else. It is as if the man were sitting across the room and telling random stories from his life as they cross his mind.

And what stories they are! They range all the way from his thoughts on rather trivial newspaper stories that may have caught his eye over breakfast to wonderful remembrances of things that happened in the first decade or two of his life. We learn of the villains in Twain’s world, some of whom personally crippled him with huge financial losses and scams, and others who were simply the villains of their times, men like Jay Gould and Belgium’s King Leopold II. We learn much about his brother, a man full of dreams but without the ability to make any of them come true. And most touchingly, Twain shares his deep love for Susy, the daughter who was snatched from the family so suddenly, by quoting liberally from the biography she wrote about her father. (My own favorite sections of the book deal with Twain’s relationship with the U.S. Grant family and publication of the former president’s memoirs.)

Twain, though, never passes up the opportunity for a little personal vengeance. As he often reminds his readers, he is speaking from the grave now, so what does he care about offending anyone? He just wants to set the record straight – at least as he sees that record. So rather unfortunately, the reader will have to wade through what seems like countless pages about the copyright laws of the day and biting commentary about an Italian landlady who drove Twain nuts for several months.

Intimidating as the two books may first appear, the author’s charm and rascality make reading them a pleasure that Twain fans will not want to miss. ( )
  SamSattler | May 14, 2015 |
I just wasn't feeling it...
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
I tried skipping through this to get to the autobiography. I kept running into an amazingly boring & repetitive account of HOW this was written, who published what before, & why. Never did find the actual autobiography. Finally got frustrated & quit after 1.5 or 2 hours.

Not what I was hoping for at all. I expected Twain to be interesting. This wasn't, but then it wasn't Twain's writing, just some boring guy talking about Twain's writing. Worse, this is just 1 of 3 volumes. I can't take it. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
Twain shows his other side: a disenchanted, bitter cynic. There is much that is humorous, but for the most part, this book caused me to take him off the pedestal on which I had placed him. He was, after all, a human being with moods, biases and some cruelty. But what a true American man. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
This book was pure Mark Twain. I made me long for childhood summers past, living abroad, and a time I never knew. His wit and sense of humor are completely wonderful. It's really REALLY good.

I bump it down to four stars for the editors long winded notes and prologue. The work speaks for itself, there's no need to beat it to death before it even begins. There were about 2.5 discs of this. Perhaps it wouldn't have bothered me as much if I'd actually read the book instead of listening to it. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
That century has passed now and here it is, Volume 1 of “The Complete Authentic Unexpurgated Edition, Nothing Has Been Omitted, Not Even Scandalous Passages Likely to Cause Grown Men to Gasp and Women to Collapse in Tears — No Children Under 7 Allowed to Read This Book Under Any Circumstance,” which made Sam front-page news when all three volumes of the “Autobiography of Mark Twain” were announced last spring. The book turns out to be a wonderful fraud on the order of the Duke and the Dauphin in their Shakespearean romp, and bravo to Samuel Clemens, still able to catch the public’s attention a century after he expired.

He speaks from the grave, he writes, so that he can speak freely — “as frank and free and unembarrassed as a love letter” — but there’s precious little frankness and freedom here and plenty of proof that Mark Twain, in the hands of academics, can be just as tedious as anybody else when he is under the burden of his own reputation. Here, sandwiched between a 58-page barrage of an introduction and 180 pages of footnotes, is a ragbag of scraps, some of interest, most of them not....
 
Occasionally, maybe once in 50 pages, the old man will go on a little too long. His dreams, dietary problems and complaints about stock-market reversals are as boring as yours and mine. Many of the news stories he fixates on seem dated now. On the whole, however, this volume is hard to stop reading. Twain's prosody is so sure, and his powers of observation and selection so great, that he can take the most unpromising material—a real-estate deed, a letter from a would-be author—and make it glitter, like dull stone that turns out to be quartz or even diamond. Like Nabokov, he knew how to "caress the details, the divine details."
 
Mark Twain is his own greatest character in this brilliant self-portrait, the first of three volumes collected by the Mark Twain Project on the centenary of the author's death. It is published complete and unexpurgated for the first time. (Twain wanted his more scalding opinions suppressed until long after his death.) Eschewing chronology and organization, Twain simply meanders from observation to anecdote and between past and present. There are gorgeous reminiscences from his youth of landscapes, rural idylls, and Tom Sawyeresque japes; acid-etched profiles of friends and enemies, from his 'fiendish' Florentine landlady to the fatuous and 'grotesque' Rockefellers; a searing polemic on a 1906 American massacre of Filipino insurgents; a hilarious screed against a hapless editor who dared tweak his prose; and countless tales of the author's own bamboozlement, unto bankruptcy, by publishers, business partners, doctors, miscellaneous moochers; he was even outsmarted by a wild turkey. Laced with Twain's unique blend of humor and vitriol, the haphazard narrative is engrossing, hugely funny, and deeply revealing of its author's mind. His is a world where every piety conceals fraud and every arcadia a trace of violence; he relishes the human comedy and reveres true nobility, yet as he tolls the bell for friends and family--most tenderly in an elegy for his daughter Susy, who died in her early 20s of meningitis--he feels that life is a pointless charade. Twain's memoirs are a pointillist masterpiece from which his vision of America--half paradise, half swindle--emerges with indelible force.
added by sduff222 | editPublishers Weekly
 
Before his death in 1910, Mark Twain left instructions that his autobiography, on which he'd been working by fits and starts, be left unpublished for 100 years. Now, at the century mark, from the army of Twain scholars at the University of California's Mark Twain Project, comes the dazzling first volume of the ultimate, authoritative three-volume 'Autobiography of Mark Twain' With no fear of reprisals, always in the center of mid-19th-century America's political, social, and cultural life, and acquainted with everyone of note, Twain wrote briskly and both favorably and fiercely on how he felt about people and events. Twain's writing here is electric, alternately moving and hilarious. He couldn't write a ho-hum sentence. Disappointed with other systems of organization, Twain settled on writing on a topic that interested him before switching to another when it so moved him. To read this volume is to be introduced to Twain as if, thrillingly, for the first time. A 58-page introduction, 138 pages of 'Preliminary Manuscripts and Dictations,' 176 pages of 'Explanatory Notes,' and a section of 'Family Biographies' (all freshly fascinating) round out the volume. VERDICT: Enthusiastically recommended. This may overwhelm Twain newcomers, but it is essential for specialists.
added by sduff222 | editLibrary Journal, Charles C. Nash
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mark Twainprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Griffin, BenjaminEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, Harriet ElinorEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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This LT work is Volume 1 of the complete, uncensored Autobiography of Mark Twain, withheld from publication for 100 years after Samuel Clemens' death (1910) and first published by the University of California Press in 2010. Please do not combine it with any other edition(s), excerpt(s) or selection(s) from the Autobiography of Mark Twain. Thank you.
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Book description
Pendant les dernières années de sa vie , Mark Twain - écrivain le plus célèbre de son temps - s'est consacré à l'écriture d'une immense autobiographie ...

With 450 pages of biography and another 200 pages of notes, I sure am glad this thing has an index!
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0520267192, Hardcover)

Autobiography of Mark Twain READER'S EDITION Now Available! Half the Size, All the Twain! ISBN 978052027255
"I've struck it!" Mark Twain wrote in a 1904 letter to a friend. "And I will give it away--to you. You will never know how much enjoyment you have lost until you get to dictating your autobiography." Thus, after dozens of false starts and hundreds of pages, Twain embarked on his "Final (and Right) Plan" for telling the story of his life. His innovative notion--to "talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment"--meant that his thoughts could range freely. The strict instruction that many of these texts remain unpublished for 100 years meant that when they came out, he would be "dead, and unaware, and indifferent," and that he was therefore free to speak his "whole frank mind." The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Twain's death. In celebration of this important milestone and in honor of the cherished tradition of publishing Mark Twain's works, UC Press is proud to offer for the first time Mark Twain's uncensored autobiography in its entirety and exactly as he left it. This major literary event brings to readers, admirers, and scholars the first of three volumes and presents Mark Twain's authentic and unsuppressed voice, brimming with humor, ideas, and opinions, and speaking clearly from the grave as he intended.
Editors:
Harriet E. Smith, Benjamin Griffin, Victor Fischer, Michael B. Frank, Sharon K. Goetz, Leslie Myrick

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:25 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Presents Mark Twain's authentic and unsuppressed voice, brimming with humor, ideas, and opinions, and speaking clearly from the grave as he intended.

» see all 4 descriptions

Legacy Library: Mark Twain

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Editions: 0520267192, 0520272250

 

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