Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
Just As Fascinating as the First Volume
on November 1, 2014
If you only know Mark Twain from a vague memory of having read "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" or "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" when you were in school, you don't know Mark Twain.
Author, critic and playwright William Dean Howells--and Twain's friend for more than four decades--referred to Twain as "the Lincoln of our literature." But that was only one facet of Twain's life. He was a journeyman printer, steamboat pilot, newspaper reporter, prospector, world traveler, platform lecturer, inventor, businessman, family man, and at the time of his death he was the most recognizable man on the planet.
For almost forty years, I taught "Huck Finn" to my high school students and read everything about Mark Twain that I could find, including the original edition of his autobiography as well as published collections of his letters and biographies by Justin Kaplan ("Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain) Ron Powers ("Mark Twain: A Life").
Just when you think you have learned everything about Twain, the University of California Press comes out with the definitive version of his autobiography. Vol. 1, which came out four years ago during the centennial year of Twain's death, shined a light in corners of Twain's life that had not yet been exposed. This second volume does more of the same.
This is not for the casual fan. (The would better be served by Powers' excellent biography mentioned earlier.) But if you want to know Twain on an intimate level, you will want nothing less than each installment of this sprawling autobiography. Much of this may be seen as ephemera, like Twain's commentary on a passage from Susy's Biography regarding how numerous the houseflies were at the Hartford home. To the delight of the children, Olivia placed a bounty on flies, and the children went so far as to recruit neighbor children to provide them with flies to collect the bounty. Through each of these hundreds of anecdotes we get a glimpse of this remarkable 19th century renaissance man. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED