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Chapters from My Autobiography Hardcover – December 5, 1996

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About the Author

Shelley Fisher Fishkin is at University of Texas, Austin.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 529 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 5, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195101561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195101560
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,675,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on November 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
MT dictated a lengthy memoir in 1906, but only selected chapters were published at the time. Selection criterion was harmlessness. The rest would have to wait another 100 years... By now the whole is out. Before I go for that, I wanted to have a preview via the previously available chapters. It is an amusing experience, but it will not shake the ground under your feet. It is a collection of all kinds of stories, old and new, personal and political, private and professional, funny and moving, substantial and trivial. Some of them are true, says MT.

Out of nowhere comes the most moving chapter, the death of daughter Susy at 24, of meningitis. Up to this point in the book, the short chapters are trifles... About this or that funny episode with this or that celebrity or in reference to the master's career.
Susy is the star of the text. At 14 she had attempted to write her version of a bio of her dad, and dad has this bio. He prints bits and pieces and lets himself get carried away into his own recollection, jumping up and down across history as fancy takes him. Very entertaining. Susy got introduced in a chapter that started out as a eulogy for his wife ... And got sidetracked to a great sadness about the beloved daughter. It does make sense, after all the wife had lived her life (though she also died rather young, below 60), while daughter had not.

One has to love the portrait of elder brother Orion. In light matters, like religion or politics, his convictions never survived a disapproving comment from a cat. Otherwise he was honest, sincere and trustworthy. He never lost anybody's money and never earned his own.
Also great are the chapters about the childhood memories which went into Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. I learned that Huck Finn's real name was Tom Blankenship.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Mark Twain is the quintesential American curmudgeon. His style formed an era and no one could ever reproduce him although many have tried. Read the book and meet the Man. I laughed out loud and at times was gripped with the wringing unrelenting pathos of this great master. I had to laugh at myself a time or two...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ash Ryan on February 5, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Mark Twain dictated his autobiography with the stated intention that it wouldn't be published for 100 years after his death. Accordingly, the first volume (of three) of the first complete edition just came out about a year ago. I intend to begin that soon, but in the meantime I've just finished "Chapters from My Autobiography", selections which were the only parts to be published during Twain's lifetime, in 25 installments in the North American Review in 1906-07.

Not a chronological autobiography, but more a free association of (mostly humorous) stories, these chapters still somehow manage to add up to an integrated picture of the man. Early on he relates the death of his middle daughter Suzie at the age of 25, and from that point on quotes from a biography of him she had written about ten years earlier. This provides some structure, as he quotes passages and then elaborates on them or tells a story they remind him of, but it also provides a sort of emotional line, regularly reminding us of Twain's family life besides his professional life.

These chapters do jump around a lot, ranging from recollections of his boyhood, to his early attempts at making a living, to becoming a successful writer, to his middle age as a family man, to his old age. The effect is a picture of a whole life, even if it is only in snapshots.

And of course, Twain is often very funny, sometimes poignant, and uses language beautifully. Definitely worth reading. And Bronson Pinchot's narration of this audio edition is highly enjoyable. Four and a half stars.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mary S. on July 29, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I appreciate the musings of Mark Twain and learned a lot about him from this autobiography that I had not known. I encourage everyone to get to know about this American Icon.
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Format: Audio CD
Mark Twain dictated his autobiography with the stated intention that it wouldn't be published for 100 years after his death. Accordingly, the first volume (of three) of the first complete edition just came out about a year ago. I intend to begin that soon, but in the meantime I've just finished "Chapters from My Autobiography", selections which were the only parts to be published during Twain's lifetime, in 25 installments in the North American Review in 1906-07.

Not a chronological autobiography, but more a free association of (mostly humorous) stories, these chapters still somehow manage to add up to an integrated picture of the man. Early on he relates the death of his middle daughter Suzie at the age of 25, and from that point on quotes from a biography of him she had written about ten years earlier. This provides some structure, as he quotes passages and then elaborates on them or tells a story they remind him of, but it also provides a sort of emotional line, regularly reminding us of Twain's family life besides his professional life.

These chapters do jump around a lot, ranging from recollections of his boyhood, to his early attempts at making a living, to becoming a successful writer, to his middle age as a family man, to his old age. The effect is a picture of a whole life, even if it is only in snapshots.

And of course, Twain is often very funny, sometimes poignant, and uses language beautifully. Definitely worth reading. And Bronson Pinchot's narration of this audio edition is highly enjoyable. Four and a half stars.
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