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

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

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by Mark Twain

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"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…  See more details below


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 The strict instruction that many of these texts remain unpublished for 100 years meant that when they came out, he would be "dead, and unaware, and indifferent," and that he was therefore free to speak his "whole frank mind."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


Harriet E. Smith, Benjamin Griffin, Victor Fischer, Michael B. Frank, Sharon K. Goetz, Leslie Myrick

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This first of three volumes of Twain's (1835–1910) autobiography, published as part of the Mark Twain Project, blows away all previous editions, including that edited by Charles Neider in 1959, which is also available from Blackstone Audio. For the first time, all of Twain's words appear in full, arranged exactly as he composed them and intended them to be published, per his instruction, on the centenary of his death. Veteran narrator Grover Gardner adeptly presents the material; his delivery of the German tongue-twisters in particular are a treat. Yet, though the book might seem a perfect fit for audio, especially since Twain dictated much of it, some listeners may be put off to discover that the editorial front matter fills up nearly two discs. And while editor Smith's excellent introduction will fascinate scholars and serious Twain buffs, it may leave others impatient to get to Twain's own texts—with no idea of exactly when that will happen, as the contents of each disc are not labeled. Most valuable as a supplement to the print material. [See Major Audio Releases, LJ 10/15/10; the LJ and New York Times best-selling Univ. of California Pr. hc received a starred review, LJ 9/15/10.—Ed.]—R. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA

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University of California Press
Publication date:
Mark Twain Papers , #10
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Autobiography of Mark Twain 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 736 reviews.
BradonVashon More than 1 year ago
I really looked forward to my copy of the Twain autobiography. I didn't really think I was getting a text book. I looked forward to reading about Samuel Clemmons' life in his unique style of story telling. I didn't realized I would have to flip through 80 pages--nearly of 1/9th of the book-- of self-important pedegogy of their interpretation of Clemmons' thoughts on how to write an autobiography and a historical chronology of his several attempt to write an autobiography and how they do or do not constitute part of Clemmons' final wishes of what should be included. I don't need a bunch of professors at the Mark Twain project telling me their methods and approach to justifying how they put the book together. If they are compelled to waste pages on that, put it in the end of the book. Just give me the flippin' autobigraphy already and get out of the great man's way!
keanewebb More than 1 year ago
Wouldn't Mark Twain be amazed that his autobiography, 100 years later, would be published in an ebook format? Mark Twain coming back in the 21st century... now there is another book of fiction I would read. His non-chronological, conversational autobiography is an easy read except for keeping up with his jumping around. In true Mark Twain spirit, his biting satire and lyrical descriptions are true entertainment.
Matt_Levin More than 1 year ago
Autobiography of Mark Twain, v.1: this's a book collector's book-- I should like to see what I think Twain himself would've liked to see, a common-reader's book. Twain's own actual words in a far less daunting format: this's 735 pgs & several pounds heavy. And, of those pages, only those from 201-468 are Twain's own. the following 240 pgs. are Explanatory notes, references, plus a 23-pg index. the preceeding 200 are of inerests--but it's too much information... ...I wasn't looking for the recipe, just wanted to sample the cake. I might then go for the annotated edition, might not. Surely would've been satisfied with parts 1 & 2, just Twain, in one volume. Us folk, down here in the road, lookin' fer th'man himself, first, then maybe later the hangers-on. Th'Twain part's mighty sweet, once the wrappin's're off.
KBinLDO More than 1 year ago
And that's just what the editors have done. I'm so glad that my impressions of this book are shared by other readers. I was raised by a Mark Twain addict, so I grabbed this book off the shelf in the library, thanking my lucky stars that I had snagged it, scurried home, cracked the book open & (almost) instantly fell asleep. Quite frankly, Editors, I really don't give a durn what this person included or that person took out, or how Twain's thoughts were transcribed. I just want to read Twain's work. And why all the pages spent on General Grant, in Twain's autobiography? It's interesting, but it's the equivalent of historical filler. Seemed to me that Twain reached from beyond the grave & got some really good stuff put in there every now & then, but the Editors quickly come back & throw some boring stuff at you out of their concern you'll get too excited. For example, I thought the book was finally taking off once Twain started talking about his childhood, but no, the Editors had to come back & put in more boring stuff just so this could be a "serious, scholarly" book. I made it all the way to Italy & the house of horrors before giving up. Now that another reviewer has clued me in on where the really good stuff is, I'm going to give it another shot. How ironic that the editors labored so hard to make Twain "highbrow" & dry literature for the intelligentsia, when had they lived in Twain's time, they'd wouldn't be caught dead pawing through his "lowbrow, for the masses" books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I expected to open the book to a short introduction followed by Mark Twain's words and I'm obviously not the only one. However, wrapped around the actual autobiography is an amazingly dry academic study of the journey Mark Twain's work has taken over the last 100 years. While this does hold some interest, it stands in stark contrast to Mark Twain's famously personal and frank way of writing. I managed to get through a good twenty pages of it before jumping ahead to the actual autobiography. I may return to it someday if I'm having trouble falling asleep, but for now I'm really enjoying the actual autobiography. I feel it's worth noting that the two sections stand in such stark contrast that I'm unable to give a detailed review. In every category where one part is worth five stars, the other is undeniably only worthy of one.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
I got this book for free. One hundred years in the making, "The Autobiography of Mark Twain" (volume 1 of 3) is published as requested by Mr. Twain, a full century after his death. Samuel Clemens a.k.a Mark Twain insisted that his autobiography would be released under such circumstances to extend the copyright for his descendants as well as not to embarrass / insult any living person and/or their children. True to his word, Mr. Twain manages to insult a few people. The actual autobiography of this book is about 1/3 of it. So don't let the size of the book daunt you. The books is divided into five sections: - Introduction (p. 1-58): this section tells the reader how this book ended up in your hands after decades of detective work by the scholars who are working on what has become known as the Mark Twain Project. - Preliminary Manuscripts and Dictations, 1870 - 1905 (p. 59 - 200): A collection of Mark Twain's false starts. - Autobiography of Mark Twain: The meat of the book, Mr. Twain's final publication. - Explanatory Notes (p. 469 - 650) - Appendixes, References, Index (p . 651 - 738) As you can see most of this huge book is not even the autobiography itself. "The Autobiography of Mark Twain" is a delightful, well edited, obviously well written and interesting book. In the world of social media, where the grammar and spelling errors on Facebook are not only jaw dropping , but also acceptable, and if you have anything to say it better be tweetable - this autobiography stands out as an eloquent narrative which cannot and should not be dumbed down to 140 characters or less. Mr. Twain spent years writing his autobiography in many forms - essays, transcripts, transcribing and notes producing an immense, and amazing body of work. He didn't simply go about witnessing his life in chronological order, but wrote in spurts about what interest him at the time. Yes, this autobiography is not in a chronological order. Clemens led an interesting life, which in turn makes an interesting autobiography. His sense of humor and sensibilities shine through the pages. The observations Clemens made about the people he met, famous and not-so-famous are acute and entertaining - as promised he manages to insult a few of folks (to my delight I might add). For more book reviews please visit ManOfLaBook dot com
Reckoner More than 1 year ago
Can we all step back here for a moment and understand what this book REALLY is, rather than slamming for what it isn't and, frankly, never was supposed to be? Is this a by-the-books, chronological autobiography? No. Not at all. Is this an experiment by one of the greatest writers of all time that will either engage you or bore you? Yes. This definitely is not for everyone. Twain here has presented us with, basically, ramblings and musings that he wrote as he thought of them. Everyone here seems to have a bad case of "The Village Syndrome" (Shyamalan's The Village marketed as horror film, turned out to be an intriguing suspenseful thriller). Get this book if you're a fan of Mark Twain and don't necessarily want to read about his life but more about how his brain worked. What made him "tick," so to speak. And the information about how they compiled it is thorough and quite interesting as well. Stop giving this book bad reviews when you know the problem isn't the book. It's you.
LANGFORD More than 1 year ago
The "writers" of this book should thank what ever god they worship that Twain is no longer with us . Twain lived in the era in which when a man was insulted he could demand "satisfaction"... a duel. Most of the air bags who cobbled this travesty together would have been quickly deflated by Twains 60 cal musket ball , the rest would have smiply turned tail and beat a hasty retreat. As far as the reviewers you probably would have gotten off pretty well... Sam loved a good yarn! And by golly did you all spin one! In respect for Twain reread his works and bypass this trash.
juliusa More than 1 year ago
Sometimes interesting, hardly ever biting, rarely emotional...I don't see the point of this book, and Twain has proven his ultimate marketing skill here making us wait 100 years..maybe that is the point, I don't know. Otherwise stay away, a real sleeper actually, and it's relevance to anything is questionable. Read his books, yes, but this one you can pass by.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why are people constantly using this medium as a way to attack other people and not as a way of reviewing the books that we have come to love or hate? I personally love Mark Twain, but to save time on the shipping I went to the store. It proved to be a gem.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From a little known conservative family in a little known conservative village to the centre stage of the world, crying out for a new social order by capturing for chronicling the old order and its dramatis personae in all their crude, cruel and idiosyncratic perversities as in a telescopic expose, at the same time captivating the world through the biting sarcasm, satire, wit, wizardry, and what have you of such chronicling, and in the process getting perched on world's pedestal as an all-time celebrity ¿ in some sense this has been the trajectory of some of the literary celebrities of the world. Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) (1835-1930) belonged to this rare species of Homo sapiens. Born and raised in the almost invisible village of Florida, Monroe County, Missouri where slavery and secession related violence was particularly brutal before the Civil War, he used his pen (for both fiction and non-fiction) so well to reveal the 'ugly American' as no one else before and after him could do, with much of his writings reflecting his anti-racist sentiments (instances: his novels Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur¿s Court, and Pudd¿Nhead Wilson, and his essay The United States of Lyncherdom), accusing the Church of spreading a pro-slavery mentality, depicting slavery as a destructive social institution in which as Twain said, ¿we used our own brother human beings to buy and sell them, lash them, thrash them, break their hearts¿ and ¿we ought to be ashamed of ourselves¿. Sarcasm, satire, and fictionalism notwithstanding, Twain¿s writings have certainly helped America and other racist countries look back with a sense of guilt and empathy at the hideous evils of racism and slavery which they perpetrated and which still persist like millstones round their necks. His autobiography, an exercise in plain speaking, should certainly serve to understand him and his social ambience better and through both help readers understand and appreciate his writings still better.
History-sponge More than 1 year ago
Having little time for uninterrupted reading, I bought this book as an audio book on CD and listened to it on my way back and forth to work. What a pleasure! Twain dictated a colorful assortment of his life experiences as autobiography. It moves back and forth from scenes that happened in his childhood to things he experienced the day before he dictated them. He criss-crosses through his life without any apparent order. At times he interrupts himself and tells the listener that he had already covered that subject in one of his other books and won't go on. I do have to admit that reading this book on paper might be a bit of a challenge. The audio version is ideal for the book's format and the narrator, Grover Gardner is ideal for the job.
EAbbeyFan More than 1 year ago
The cover tells everyone that this book was created by the Mark Twain Project.  Inside the the front cover the pages tells everyone that University of California Press at Berkley is the  publisher.  It states the funding sources as well and there are multiple editors listed. Therefore, those who are intelligent enough to understand Twain will understand as well that this is a in depth analysis of a  very rare, intelligent, brilliant, eccentric author and how complicated of a writer he was.   The very title and sub-title indicate that this is not for those desiring or requiring a simple, saucy read. Excellent details and in depth insights to how the whole Mark Twain "worked".   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't expect a chronological depiction of his life but rather his stream of conciousness recollections. A wonderful insight into what made Samuel Clemmens the iconic American storyteller tick.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The editors bloviate in such a moribund way that I can see Mark Twain rolling his eyes and wanting to poke them with his sharp pen. I'll await the next volumes and invest in them as well... he is there in a way that only his friends knew him as he talks about the things that made an impression on him as he came up and through the experiences of his life. I applaud his efforts and thank him for sharing it in such a sweet fashion that leaves me feeling he is sitting across the room in comfortable chair regaling me with the tales he couldn't write then. He was a dear man to care that some of what he may have to say would or could offend or hurt someone somewhere.... likely his own reputation as well, I'd guess. It's the ramblings of my grandpa, I hear as I read it.... lighten up folks.....
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