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Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1: The Complete and Authoritative Edition Hardcover – Nov 15 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 760 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (Nov. 15 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520267192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520267190
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 6.1 x 25.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“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.”
( 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!”
( 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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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By ronbc TOP 100 REVIEWER on Nov. 25 2014
Format: Hardcover
Discursive, self-indulgent, sometimes interesting, but overall a disappointment.

Suffers from its lack of structure, and from the fact that much of it is remarkably pedestrian. One of the best parts is the extended introduction, which examines Twain's thought process as he debates how to present his material. His decision to dictate the original material is intriguing, but its also one source of the book's lack of focus. Read his literary works, instead.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
That’s what this book should be called, because Mark Twain / Samuel Clemons was not very interested in talking about himself. The world was his subject, including all the people he ever met, and all the places he went (he was a world traveller).

There are unexpected riches. He loved his children and studied them like a scientist, but one with a keen sense of humor. One of them, Susie, died at 24, and he immortalized her by publishing a her biography of her father that she wrote at age 13. She was an accomplished writer, with telling insight and a love for him that was equal to his for his whole family. He quotes her over and over, and it contributes to the rich, many-layered texture of the book.

That family might become the most famous, most loved family of all time. They loved one another, and they all had a keen sense of humor, and after reading, or listening to this book for a while, you’ll feel like you’re one of them
There is his close friendship with Ulysses Grant, civil war general and US president, including a fascinating account of how he rescued Grant & his autobiography from an unscrupulous publisher.

There is his keen interest in and love of black people, who he knew as slaves when he was a boy, but admired all his life.

Some people, because of his declared disgust with humanity as a social animal, have said Twain died a bitter man. Well, it’s not bitterness. It’s a well-deserved set of judgements on humanity that he delivers with his characteristic humor and authority.

I used to say that what we need today is a new Voltaire. I used to say Mark Twain was the closest we’ve come to Voltaire. Now that I’ve encountered this book, I see that he was easily Voltaire’s equal. What we need now is a new Mark Twain.
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