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Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1: The Complete and Authoritative Edition [Hardcover]

Mark Twain , Harriet E. Smith , Benjamin Griffin , Victor Fischer , Michael B. Frank , Sharon K. Goetz , Leslie Diane Myrick , Robert Hirst
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 15 2010 0520267192 978-0520267190
"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 The strict instruction that many of these texts remain unpublished for 100 years meant that when they came out, he would be "dead, and unaware, and indifferent," and that he was therefore free to speak his "whole frank mind."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

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Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1: The Complete and Authoritative Edition + Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Complete and Authoritative Edition
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Review

“Sometimes the autobiography seems Twain’s letter to posterity. At other times, reading it feels like eavesdropping on a conversation he is having with himself. . . . This first installment of Twain’s autobiography brings us closer to all of him than we have ever come before.”
(New York Review Of Books 2011-02-24)

“This is a book to treasure for all friends of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.”
(Acadiana Lifestyle Magazine 2010-12-01)

“Dip into the first enormous volume of Twain’s autobiography that he had decreed should not appear until 100 years after his death. And Twain will begin to seem strange again, alluring and still astonishing, but less sure-footed, and at times both puzzled and puzzling in ways that still resonate with us, though not the ways we might expect.”
(New York Times 2010-09-17)

“This is a book for dipping, not plunging. Read, as Twain might put it, until interest pales, and then jump. It feels like a form of time travel.”
(New York Times/The Opinion Pages 2010-11-27)

“Twain generously provides the 21st century aficionado a marvelous read. His crystalline humor and expansive range are a continuous source of delight and awe. . . . [He] has given us ‘an astonishment’ in his autobiography with his final, beautifully unorganized genius and intemperate thoughts. Pull up a chair and revel.”
(Los Angeles Times Book Review 2010-11-14)

“Mission accomplished, Mr. Clemens.”
(Roger Boylan Boston Review 2010-11-01)

“His '’whole frank mind,’ sharp and funny, is seared onto every page. A”
(Entertainment Weekly 2010-11-10)

“Brimming with Twain’s humor, ideas and opinions, this is a book for anyone interested in the writer’s work and life.”
(Curledup.com 2011-01-12)

“Pure Twain at his typically discursive, rambling, and droll. . . . The bard of Hannibal still has much to say.”
(American Heritage 2010-09-01)

“The bestseller chart is awash with memoirs -- but none offer the extreme reading of the Autobiography of Mark Twain.”
(Debra Craine The Times 2010-10-18)

“Twain's autobiography, finally available after a century, is a garrulous outpouring—and every word beguiles.”
(Wall Street Journal 2010-11-13)

“Promises a no-holds barred perspective on Twain’s life, and will be rich with rambunctious, uncompromising opinions.”
(Herald Scotland 2010-07-19)

“Twain would approve!”
(Bookideas.com 2010-12-29)

“Twain’s writing here is electric, alternately moving and hilarious. He couldn’t write a ho-hum sentence.”
(Library Journal 2010-09-15)

“A major achevement.”
(Choice 2011-04-20)

“Twian’s ‘Final Plan’ has been released in a truly spectacular first volume of his posthumous ‘Autobiography’.”
(Vitali Vitaliev Engineering & Technology 2011-02-01)

“With the uncensored Twain finally here, we're the furthest thing from indifferent.”
(Time Magazine 2010-09-20)

From the Inside Flap

"Mark Twain dictated much of this book—now it is a book at last—from a big rumpled bed. Reading it is a bit like climbing in there with him."—Roy Blount, Jr.

"To say that the editors have done an extremely good job is a little like saying the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel does a good job of keeping the rain off the Pope's head. It is true but it doesn't give even a whiff of the grandeur of the thing."—Robert D. Richardson, author of Emerson: The Mind on Fire

"Mark Twain, always so blithely ahead of his time, has just outdone himself: he's brought us an Autobiography from beyond the grave: a hundred-year-old relic that yet manages to accomplish something new. It anticipates the Cubism just taking form in Samuel Clemens's last years, by exploding the confines of orderliness, sequence, the dutiful march of this-then-that. In so doing, it gives us not simply Mark Twain's life—that is the prosaic work of biographers—but the ways in which he thought of his life: in all the fragmented recollection, distraction, creation, revision and dreaming that make up the true, divinely jumbled devices we all use to recapture experience and feeling. If this prodigious and prodigal pastiche were a machine, it would be the Paige typesetter—except that it works."—Ron Powers, author of Mark Twain: A Life


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch collection of frank writings Feb. 24 2011
By Rodge TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
It's true that the term "autobiography" is misleading - this is more a collection of anecdotes across time with no particular system in place as to why one anecdote follows another. It's also the only way that Mark Twain could possibly have done an autobiography. Some of the work is being published for the first time, some has been published and mangled in different formats. Once you dive in and start to hear Mark Twain's voice speak to you, you'll start to understand exactly why this all works so well. Mark Twain wanted to speak frankly and so wanted his autobiography published 100 years after his death. It's a sign of his great quality that we still are interested in what he has to say.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." -- John 8:32 (NKJV)

I haven't had this much fun with a new book since the corrected version of Joyce's Ulysses came out. Let me explain. The only thing better than reading an outstanding work by a great writer is seeing the anatomy of how the work was written. It's fascinating to see the false starts, the problems, their solutions, and the process of mixing it all together to make a wonderful, tasty concoction for readers.

Samuel L. Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) decided he wanted to write a truthful autobiography that would be so accurate in its portrayals that he directed it not be published for 100 years. Despite that admonition, his source material has been scoured to produce earlier versions of "an autobiography." It turns out that what Clemens had in mind was something much more difficult, writing an exhaustive autobiography that allowed him to also candidly share his unusual turn of mind and insert the kind of humor that makes his writing so appealing. As a result of many unsuccessful attempts, he chose to ignore the normal chronological order in favor of dictating segments (and side trips that are not necessarily very related) that appealed to him.

In the process, I came away with a strong feeling that it's hard to put your imprint on an autobiography . . . even if you are a wonderful storyteller and writer. The constraint of telling the truth (no more and no less) is also a daunting one, one that the footnotes to this fascinating volume indicate that Clemens often violated (probably unwittingly in many cases).

Even the "failed" sections make for fascinating reading, including his close association with Ulysses S.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Stuff! June 8 2012
By Mark Nenadov TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Mark Twain's autobiography came with a stipulation that it not be published until a hundred years after he died. The Mark Twain Project released Volume One in 2010 with two more to come. I highly recommend it.

Twain would be tickled if he knew how much has been published about him. This volume weighs in at over 700 pages. The University of Windsor library has a rather impressive amount of shelf space dedicated to Twain. Twain-mania is understandable, he's a remarkable man, full of genius. He has plausible claims at being the founding father of American literature and the best American satirist ever.

I've finally tackled this mammoth and I've encountered Twain more deeply than every before. There's good humour here, brilliant character sketches, insights on human nature, and further evidence of genius. The interactions with literary and political figures as well as the recollections of his daughter are delightful.

My only qualification is that this book is not for the faint of heart. If you're less than heavily interested in Twain or unprepared to get into this for the long haul, you'll be overwhelmed. If you aren't cut out for it, you'll likely choke on the super-sized editor introduction.
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