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Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1: The Complete and Authoritative Edition (Autobiography of Mark Twain series) [Kindle Edition]

Mark Twain , Harriet E. Smith , Benjamin Griffin , Victor Fischer , Michael B. Frank , Sharon K. Goetz , Leslie Diane Myrick
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (405 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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 The strict instruction that many of these texts remain unpublished for 100 years meant that when they came out, he would be "dead, and unaware, and indifferent," and that he was therefore free to speak his "whole frank mind."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


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Mark Twain is his own greatest character in this brilliant self-portrait, the first of three volumes collected by the Mark Twain Project on the centenary of the author's death. It is published complete and unexpurgated for the first time. (Twain wanted his more scalding opinions suppressed until long after his death.) Eschewing chronology and organization, Twain simply meanders from observation to anecdote and between past and present. There are gorgeous reminiscences from his youth of landscapes, rural idylls, and Tom Sawyeresque japes; acid-etched profiles of friends and enemies, from his "fiendish" Florentine landlady to the fatuous and "grotesque" Rockefellers; a searing polemic on a 1906 American massacre of Filipino insurgents; a hilarious screed against a hapless editor who dared tweak his prose; and countless tales of the author's own bamboozlement, unto bankruptcy, by publishers, business partners, doctors, miscellaneous moochers; he was even outsmarted by a wild turkey. Laced with Twain's unique blend of humor and vitriol, the haphazard narrative is engrossing, hugely funny, and deeply revealing of its author's mind. His is a world where every piety conceals fraud and every arcadia a trace of violence; he relishes the human comedy and reveres true nobility, yet as he tolls the bell for friends and family--most tenderly in an elegy for his daughter Susy, who died in her early 20s of meningitis--he feels that life is a pointless charade. Twain's memoirs are a pointillist masterpiece from which his vision of America--half paradise, half swindle--emerges with indelible force. 66 photos and line illus. (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In explaining his dissatisfaction with his early attempts to write his life story, Mark Twain blamed the narrowness of the conventional cradle-to-grave format: “The side-excursions are the life of our life-voyage, and should be, also, of its history.” This volume—the first of three—makes public autobiographical dictations in which Twain unpredictably pursues the many side-excursions of his remarkably creative life. Embedded in a substantial editorial apparatus, these free-spirited forays expose private aspects of character that the author did not want in print until he had been dead at least a century. Readers see, for instance, a misanthropic Twain consigning man to a status below that of the grubs and worms, as well as a tenderhearted Twain still grieving a year after his wife’s death. But on some side-excursions, Twain flashes the irreverent wit that made him famous: Who will not delight in Twain’s account of how, as a boy, he gleefully dons the bright parade banner of the local Temperance Lodge, only to shuck his banner upon finding a cigar stub he can light up? But perhaps the most important side-excursions are those retracing the imaginative prospecting of a miner for literary gold, efforts that resulted in such works as Roughing It and Innocents Abroad. A treasure trove for serious Twain readers. --Bryce Christensen

Product Details

  • File Size: 4639 KB
  • Print Length: 736 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (October 13, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00413QAFG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,800 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1,277 of 1,300 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Scholarly Mark Twain Edition October 21, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The potential reader for this edition should be aware of several items. First, this autobiography is an oversize hardbook which means it may not fit into a bookshelf with other more traditional hardbooks. Second this is an academic press which means that there is a long introduction and discussion of prior autobiographical starts by Mark Twain (1870-1905) for two hundred pages. The actual autobiography of Mark Twain is only 270 pages of transcriptions from his dictation of his 1906 attempt to write his life story. Following the narrative are an additional 150+ pages of notes, index and appendixes. Two more volumes will be published later. Third, this edition is a rambling text with no chronological sequence. Mark Twain told stories as he remembered as they came to his memory. None of these observations are negative but the reader should be aware of these differences.

This book aims to be the definitive edition by publishing everything that Mark dictated or wrote after 1905 in the order that it came into creation. Prior publications were much shorter as various editors organized what they thought was interesting, had his family's approval and was in some chronlogical sequence (Charles Neider did the best overall job of this fifty years ago). 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.
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631 of 658 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, but beyond any adequate description October 21, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Fifteen minutes ago I finished reading Volume One of the newly published "Autobiography of Mark Twain". It is no more possible to adequately describe this massive book as to attempt to fully capture the full, intricate realities of a vast range of wild mountains.

Twain tried for many years to write his autobiography, but time and again his efforts ground to a halt and were abandoned, although fragments were kept for eventual use (and presented as part of this Volume One). It was not until Twain fixed upon the mode of orally dictating his autobiography that he found a method that really worked for him and allowed him to complete the project to his own satisfaction. The first portion of these 1906 dictations (plus explanatory editorial notes) form the heart of the present volume (two more volumes will eventually be released to complete the "Autobiography"). The result certainly does not follow a standard autobiographical approach (which Twain characterizes as a "plan that starts you at the cradle and drives you straight for the grave, with no side-excursions permitted on the way. Whereas the side-excursions are the life of our life-voyage, and should be, also, of its history.") The "Autobiography" as dictated instead is all side-excursion, almost stream of consciousness. Twain's intent was that it not be published in unexpurgated form until a hundred years after his death, leaving him free to say whatever he wished about whomever he wished to speak. Portions of it have indeed been published from time to time, in a highly edited form bearing little resemblance to what Twain intended as the true "Autobiography".

In approaching the "Autobiography" the reader should not expect a conventional, chronologically arranged, continuous narrative in the traditional style.
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380 of 398 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars To Potential Readers and Gifters December 1, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It really should be made clear just what this book is and isn't. It is a completist's edition of a project Twain talked about for years but never actually sat down and wrote. In this scholarly volume, roughly one-third of the massive book details the process of its compilation, by Twain and by the editors (his contemporaries as well as the present ones), and includes what might today be called "outtakes" (several of which are quite interesting and enjoyable), pieces determined not to be intended as part of the Autobiography. One reader commented that "the book needs an editor". That misses the point; the scholarly editing is masterful. It COULD not credibly be edited in the sense of cutting it down as one might a contemporary manuscript to make it suitable for publication.
Another one-third of the tome consists of scholarly notes explaining many of the references in the text. Many of these are clarifications of people (some major, some insignificant)to whom Twain refers, or locations. In many cases these are extraneous to all but the most scholarly or the compulsive who needs to know who EVERYbody is and cannot determine it by context. In some cases, they correct lapses in Twain's memory (he clearly didn't research or check many of his facts)
Only one-third of this volume is the Autobiography itself, and it is only mildly interesting. It is certainly not a chronological narrative, much of it was dictated by an aging and bitter man(part of its sardonic charm), and much of it--- amazingly--- is drawn from a biography of Twain written, as a child, by his beloved daughter, which Twain explicates, albeit through the filter of the subsequent and ongoing grief Twain suffered since her youthful death.
My eyesight is lousy but I was untroubled by the type.
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340 of 356 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read But NOT on Kindle November 20, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Through this autobiography I am coming to gain even greater respect for this person I have admired for most of my own 74 years. A marvelous account of his life.

However, because of poor eyesight I am reading the ebook version on my iPad using the Kindle reader. About 30% of the book is composed of clarifications and annotations by editors of the work. Unfortunately, those notes are in a separate section of the book and reference Twain's commentary by page number. However, the ebook version for the Kindle eliminates ALL traces of page numbering in favor of a digital code for each line. Thus there is no possible way to find the information that is being referred to in the editors comments. If possible stick to the hard copy or find a different digital ebook which retains the page references....I will for volumes 2 and 3.
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Sensible Kindle edition pricing
I have macular degeneration and find enlarging the type fonts on my Kindle afford pleasurable reading experience. I could not have enjoyed Mark Twain (the autobiography) in the printed version. Thank you Kindle.
Nov 21, 2010 by Dolores Beringer |  See all 8 posts
Kindle Sample - Inadequate
I thought the same thing.
Nov 19, 2010 by True Fiduciary |  See all 3 posts
If this is not available in LARGE PRINT...
My 93 year old mother discovered my kindle over a year ago. She hadn't been able to read much for ten years because her eyes got tired and even a large print book didn't help. For some reason that even her eye doctor doesn't understand, she has no problem reading a kindle -- and she doesn't... Read More
Nov 20, 2010 by L. Gray |  See all 11 posts
Mark Twain Autobiography - when does it start?
I have the hard copy--the introduction is about 59 pages in mine. It's freakin' long! And all their talking about is how comprehensive and correct their version is, moreso than any of the other editors who dared to actually edit one precious word from Twain's lips to possibly make him a little... Read More
Jan 15, 2011 by Mary Ellen Fogarty Petti |  See all 10 posts
Fully linked footnotes?
Hello B.O.B.,

Yes, the Kindle version has hyper-linked end notes. I just bought it for my iPad. Clicking on the number in the text takes you to the note. Clicking on the number at the beginning of the note takes you back to the text.
Nov 28, 2010 by CMattGo |  See all 4 posts
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