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

Overview

"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 The strict instruction that many of these texts remain unpublished for 100 years
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Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1: The Complete and Authoritative Edition

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Overview

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 The strict instruction that many of these texts remain unpublished for 100 years meant that when they came out, he would be "dead, and unaware, and indifferent," and that he was therefore free to speak his "whole frank mind."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

  • ISBN-13: 9780520946996
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2010
  • Series: Mark Twain Papers , #10
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 760
  • Sales rank: 156,506
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Harriet Elinor Smith is an editor at the Mark Twain Project, which is housed within the Mark Twain Papers, the world's largest archive of primary materials by this major American writer. Under the direction of General Editor Robert H. Hirst, the Project's editors are producing the first comprehensive edition of all of Mark Twain's writings.

Biography

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri; his family moved to the port town of Hannibal four years later. His father, an unsuccessful farmer, died when Twain was eleven. Soon afterward the boy began working as an apprentice printer, and by age sixteen he was writing newspaper sketches. He left Hannibal at eighteen to work as an itinerant printer in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. From 1857 to 1861 he worked on Mississippi steamboats, advancing from cub pilot to licensed pilot.

After river shipping was interrupted by the Civil War, Twain headed west with his brother Orion, who had been appointed secretary to the Nevada Territory. Settling in Carson City, he tried his luck at prospecting and wrote humorous pieces for a range of newspapers. Around this time he first began using the pseudonym Mark Twain, derived from a riverboat term. Relocating to San Francisco, he became a regular newspaper correspondent and a contributor to the literary magazine the Golden Era. He made a five-month journey to Hawaii in 1866 and the following year traveled to Europe to report on the first organized tourist cruise. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches (1867) consolidated his growing reputation as humorist and lecturer.

After his marriage to Livy Langdon, Twain settled first in Buffalo, New York, and then for two decades in Hartford, Connecticut. His European sketches were expanded into The Innocents Abroad (1869), followed by Roughing It (1872), an account of his Western adventures; both were enormously successful. Twain's literary triumphs were offset by often ill-advised business dealings (he sank thousands of dollars, for instance, in a failed attempt to develop a new kind of typesetting machine, and thousands more into his own ultimately unsuccessful publishing house) and unrestrained spending that left him in frequent financial difficulty, a pattern that was to persist throughout his life.

Following The Gilded Age (1873), written in collaboration with Charles Dudley Warner, Twain began a literary exploration of his childhood memories of the Mississippi, resulting in a trio of masterpieces --The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883), and finally The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), on which he had been working for nearly a decade. Another vein, of historical romance, found expression in The Prince and the Pauper (1882), the satirical A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), and Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), while he continued to draw on his travel experiences in A Tramp Abroad (1880) and Following the Equator (1897). His close associates in these years included William Dean Howells, Bret Harte, and George Washington Cable, as well as the dying Ulysses S. Grant, whom Twain encouraged to complete his memoirs, published by Twain's publishing company in 1885.

For most of the 1890s Twain lived in Europe, as his life took a darker turn with the death of his daughter Susy in 1896 and the worsening illness of his daughter Jean. The tone of Twain's writing also turned progressively more bitter. The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), a detective story hinging on the consequences of slavery, was followed by powerful anti-imperialist and anticolonial statements such as 'To the Person Sitting in Darkness' (1901), 'The War Prayer' (1905), and 'King Leopold's Soliloquy' (1905), and by the pessimistic sketches collected in the privately published What Is Man? (1906). The unfinished novel The Mysterious Stranger was perhaps the most uncompromisingly dark of all Twain's later works. In his last years, his financial troubles finally resolved, Twain settled near Redding, Connecticut, and died in his mansion, Stormfield, on April 21, 1910.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Samuel Langhorne Clemens (real name); Sieur Louis de Conte
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 30, 1835
    2. Place of Birth:
      Florida, Missouri
    1. Date of Death:
      April 21, 1910
    2. Place of Death:
      Redding, Connecticut

Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 743 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 26, 2010

    still reading, but just barely

    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!

    60 out of 75 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Mark Twain would be amazed.

    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.

    49 out of 54 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2010

    Fanfare for the Common Reader!

    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.

    40 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2011

    You have to be pretty talented to make Twain a snooze fest

    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.

    18 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2011

    It's really two books. The one Mr. Clemens wrote is well worth reading.

    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.

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2010

    EH!

    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.

    13 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2010

    A grand conglomeration of malarky holding a paltry few chapters of Sams work hostage ! I gave it one star since you could prop something up with it.

    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.

    12 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2010

    Can We Get Back To The Issue Of Reviewing Books?

    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.

    12 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    True to his word, Mr. Twain manages to insult a few people

    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

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Easily the Most Misunderstood Book of 2010

    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.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2010

    Autograph

    @bobinbc, I don't know about you, but I got an autographed copy. All tongue in cheek the whole time.

    6 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2010

    Good, but.......

    I am disappointed the hardcover isn't autographed

    6 out of 71 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Let's see what Mark Twain wrote

    I was dismayed and disappointed by the repeated self absorbed start of this book that I put it down because I felt "readers remorse" about skipping through to his actual words, I will pick it back up again (if I can lift it) and just deal with my guilt for skipping thee "gee, we are so wonderful, we did a lot of research begining. It's a shame that the first part of the book turns people off and makes it so you don't want to read the rest.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 18, 2010

    Must be a good book this review is for the bookseller not the book

    Maybe I can pick up the book at the local library. My order from B AND N is going to take THREE weeks From order placed on line Nov. 15 until ship date of Dec 6. That is not good book selling.

    3 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2002

    Avenging racist affronts: The Twain ways

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2011

    Wonderfully written and full of humor -- true Mark Twain

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2010

    Boring

    Now I know why he didn't want this released for 100yrs.
    1st 59 pages explain in tedious detail why and how he went back and forth about writing his autobiography.
    Unfortunately the rest of the book presents more as ramblings than anything else.
    A disappointment.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2010

    Very hard to read, couldn't get through it

    I guess I just didn't understand what this book is. I couldn't wade through any of it. The first couple hundred pages or so seems to be other authors' biographies about Twain. I'm not sure I ever got to the part that Twain dictated. At least, I couldn't find it in the Table of Contents. I decided to let this lie for a while, and maybe in a few years I'll get back to it.

    I guess I got suckered in because of Twain's name. Shame on me.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 15, 2010

    This is a review of the reviewers--not the book. I am sure that is a 5.

    I have decided to definitely pick up this book and read it because it is probably very thorough and detailed, as any Mark Twain lover would enjoy.

    As for the childish reviews preceding this, I have to laugh at people who are not even embarrassed to give their opinion on a book which is so decidedly too complicated and way over their heads. To think they are not even embarrassed to show their ignorance. Yet despite the misspelled words and their whining, "it was boring", they have the actual nerve to be so self absorbed as to put a review on a book website like this.

    Amazing! These literary midgets can't even spell or communicate in writing, yet they have the audacity to criticize an author, who is attempting to explain how the book came about.

    I would suggest these literary midgets stick to Harry Potter, which might also be too lofty for them. Or perhaps they could spend their time with a grammar book, learning the difference between to, too, and two or a dictionary. Good God!

    You might want to stay away from Twain. You really don't want to know what his opinion of you would be.

    2 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2010

    One of the worst (auto)biography's I've ever read

    I can not believe that Mark Twain's intentions were to have the so much time spent on HOW the book was written and put together by the Mark Twain Project. It is an increadably boring and slow read. I would have expected better from the Mark Twain Project, which seems full of itself in how it decieded what the author wanted or did not want included in his autobiography. They spend to much time describing the labor pains and to little time on the baby. Not even worth the Nook price of $9.99 IMHO.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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