Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Complete and Authoritative Edition Hardcover – Oct 5 2013
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It feels like a form of time travel. One moment you’re on horseback in the Hawaiian islands or recovering from saddle boils with a cigar in your mouth and the next moment you’re meeting the Viennese maid he called, in a private joke, Wuthering Heights.’ We can hardly wait for Volume 2.” New York Times
Twain's autobiography, finally available after a century, is a garrulous outpouringand every word beguiles.” Wall Street Journal
I start reading Twain’s Autobiography at any page and don’t want to stop, for the sheer voluptuous pleasure of the prose.” Roger Ebert
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The good news is that there is more narrative of Twain's memories (450+ pages) and that all of the scholarly information (280+ pages) is at the end, unlike Volume 1. The only complaint is that half of the end-notes should have been brief footnotes to explain the context of the events and persons. The reader will need to shuttle back and forth now. What the reader has here is Mark Twain's true speaking voice --he is doing a monologue in your presence, going wherever his memory takes him. And it is pretty funny as he comments on the events of his times and settles literary scores -- see his savage critique on Bret Harte (page 119), as an example. If the reader read Volume 1, this volume is even better.
What a gift to the world he was and is.
Author, critic and playwright William Dean Howells--and Twain's friend for more than four decades--referred to Twain as "the Lincoln of our literature." But that was only one facet of Twain's life. He was a journeyman printer, steamboat pilot, newspaper reporter, prospector, world traveler, platform lecturer, inventor, businessman, family man, and at the time of his death he was the most recognizable man on the planet.
For almost forty years, I taught "Huck Finn" to my high school students and read everything about Mark Twain that I could find, including the original edition of his autobiography as well as published collections of his letters and biographies by Justin Kaplan ("Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain) Ron Powers ("Mark Twain: A Life").
Just when you think you have learned everything about Twain, the University of California Press comes out with the definitive version of his autobiography. Vol. 1, which came out four years ago during the centennial year of Twain's death, shined a light in corners of Twain's life that had not yet been exposed. This second volume does more of the same.
This is not for the casual fan. (The would better be served by Powers' excellent biography mentioned earlier.) But if you want to know Twain on an intimate level, you will want nothing less than each installment of this sprawling autobiography. Much of this may be seen as ephemera, like Twain's commentary on a passage from Susy's Biography regarding how numerous the houseflies were at the Hartford home. To the delight of the children, Olivia placed a bounty on flies, and the children went so far as to recruit neighbor children to provide them with flies to collect the bounty. Through each of these hundreds of anecdotes we get a glimpse of this remarkable 19th century renaissance man. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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