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Mark Twain's Autobiography Part 1 Paperback – June 5, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


''Mark Twain, always so blithely ahead of his time, has just outdone himself: he's brought us an autobiography from beyond the grave: a hundred-year-old relic that yet manages to accomplish something new. It anticipates the Cubism just taking form in Samuel Clemens' last years by exploding the confines of orderliness, sequence, the dutiful march of this-then-that. In so doing, it gives us not simply Mark Twain's life -- that is the prosaic work of biographers -- but the ways in which he thought of his life: in all the fragmented recollection, distraction, creation, revision, and dreaming that make up the true, divinely jumbled devices we all use to recapture experience and feeling. If this prodigious and prodigal pastiche were a machine, it would be the Paige typesetter -- except that it works.'' --Ron Powers, author of Mark Twain: A Life

''Mark Twain dictated much of this book -- now it is a book at last -- from a big rumpled bed. Reading it is a bit like climbing in there with him. -- Roy Blount, Jr., American author and humorist

''To say that the editors have done an extremely good job is a little like saying the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel does a good job of keeping the rain off the Pope's head. It is true but it doesn t give even a whiff of the grandeur of the thing.'' --Robert D. Richardson, author of Emerson: The Mind on Fire

''Promises a no-holds-barred perspective on Twain's life and will be rich with rambunctious, uncompromising opinions.'' --Herald (Glasgow)

''With the uncensored Twain finally here, we're the furthest thing from indifferent.'' -- Time Magazine

''Twain's writing here is electric, alternately moving and hilarious. He couldn't write a ho-hum sentence.'' -- Library Journal

''Dip into the first enormous volume of Twain's autobiography that he had decreed should not appear until one hundred years after his death. And Twain will begin to seem strange again, alluring and still astonishing, but less sure-footed, and at times both puzzled and puzzling in ways that still resonate with us, though not the ways we might expect.'' --New York Times

''Mark Twain is his own greatest character in this brilliant self-portrait. . . It is published complete and unexpurgated for the first time. 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. . . 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.'' --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

''This first of three volumes of Twain's autobiography, published as part of the Mark Twain Project, blows away all previous editions . . . Veteran narrator Grover Gardner adeptly presents the material; his delivery of the German tongue-twisters in particular are a treat.'' --Library Journal audio review

**''A rambling walk through history with a man uniquely situated to recount it . . . Whenever Twain takes off on one of his creative flights, Gardner has no difficulty keeping up with him.''** --SoundCommentary.com (starred review and Editor's Pick of the Month, December 2010)

**''Grover Gardner's reading of Mark Twain's autobiography is something of a marvel, considering how little he relies on the Mark Twain manner made so famous by Hal Holbrook. Easy, natural, unaffected, but cued to every element of Twain's subtle and exacting prose, Gardner's delivery makes it easy to imagine you're listening to the author himself. The text is a daunting one . . . Some of the short pieces are superb, but the deliberately meandering dictation proves to be aimless and slack, without Twain's customary verbal magic. This fine audio production has immense scholarly value. Gardner's skilled reading of a dictated text brings us as close as we might come to the author's natural voice -- and reveals how much more he achieved when he applied himself at his desk.** Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award.'' --AudioFile --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

MARK TWAIN (1835-1910) was born Samuel L. Clemens in the town of Florida, Missouri. One of the most popular and influential authors our nation has ever produced, his keen wit and incisive satire earned him praise from both critics and peers. He has been called not only the greatest humorist of his age but the father of American literature. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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