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

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1: The Complete and Authoritative Edition

The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Twain’s death. In celebration of this important milestone, here, for the first time, is Mark Twain’s uncensored autobiography, in its entirety, exactly as he left it. This major literary event offers 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.
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Publisher's Summary

“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 The strict instruction that many of these texts remain unpublished for 100 years meant that when they came out, he would be “dead, and unaware, and indifferent” and that he was therefore free to speak his “whole frank mind”.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, here, for the first time, is Mark Twain’s uncensored autobiography, in its entirety, exactly as he left it. This major literary event offers 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.

Edited by Harriet Elinor Smith and other editors of the Mark Twain Project.

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.

©2010 2001 by the Mark Twain Foundation. All Rights Reserved. Transcription, reconstruction, and creation of the texts, introduction, notes, and appendixes copyright 2010 by the Regents of the University of California (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“With the uncensored Twain finally here, we’re the furthest thing from indifferent.” (Time magazine)

“Twain’s memoirs are a pointillist masterpiece from which his vision of America - half paradise, half swindle - emerges with indelible force.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Mark Twain, always so blithely ahead of his time, has just outdone himself: he’s brought us an autobiography from beyond the grave.” (Ron Powers, author of Mark Twain: A Life)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (513 )
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 (162)
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3.8 (219 )
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  •  
    JJCA 12-11-12
    JJCA 12-11-12

    JJCA

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    "A Mark Twain enthusiasts must read."
    If you could sum up Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 in three words, what would they be?

    Enjoyable, Enlightening, Entertaining


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Samuel Clemens AKA Mark Twain. Amerca's best ever author.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No extreme reaction. Laugh or cry? Yes to both.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CarolDe Oakland, CA United States 12-06-12
    CarolDe Oakland, CA United States 12-06-12

    CarolDe

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Makes a better printed book than an audiobook"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    This is just too dry, and I am not much interested in the scholarly context. Where's the Twain?


    What was most disappointing about Mark Twain’s story?

    Not enough Twain; too much commentary about how the story was put together. Waiting forever for Twain's actual story.


    Have you listened to any of Grover Gardner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No. I liked the narrator, no problem there.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    No


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rich United States 11-26-12
    Rich United States 11-26-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Tremendous, especially if you appreciate Twain..."

    The old quip, "this is a great book for those who like this kind of book," fits here, in that this autobiography may be rather overwhelming for those who are not already predisposed to admire Mark Twain. There is a great deal of dry historiography about the compiling of this project - the first of three projected volumes - and, frankly, it bogs down. Additionally, the text is far from chronological, and so it tends to be scattered and quite uneven. It includes a variety of fits and starts as Twain himself was ambivalent about the project. Some of the text was carefully written expressly to compose part of an anticipated autobiography, but even that was punctuated by one or two decade-long pauses. Much of the later text was transcribed from free-flowing dictation, as the author decided that a "true" autobiography ought to be based on spontaneous "streams of consciousness," assuming that what the subject recited would not be published until long after his death; preferably 100 years after. However, any reader who sufficiently appreciates the ideas, character and talents of Mark Twain, or simply has sufficient interest to stay with the book, will be richly rewarded. There are passages, quips and stories found throughout this volume that are every bit as insightful and entertaining as those that are better known and have long been lauded in his other works. Grover Gardner is the consummate narrator, whose inflections are so perfect that one is totally unaware of him, hearing only the author himself. The volume is highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Katy, Texas 11-23-12
    Amazon Customer Katy, Texas 11-23-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Much better than what I expected"
    Where does Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is not just the man, but his life and times in ways which defy explanation. You just have to hear this! (Yes, the first part is sooooooo boring, but persevere!) Unexpected pieces of news from long ago: A woman physically dragged from the white house, American genocide of a native people over a 3 day period across the globe, and a woman famous simply for being written about (LONG before Paris Hilton). He makes people you knew only from long ago history exams come alive, with all their faults (long fallen from the history books) and holds up shining examples of fine individuals you never heard of. This is history (albeit disjointed) as you have never heard it. Amazing.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1?

    Dragging the woman from the white house.


    What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

    Matter-of-fact.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I laughed outloud several times.


    Any additional comments?

    Can't wait for Volume II.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacobus Johannesburg, South Africa 09-30-12
    Jacobus Johannesburg, South Africa 09-30-12 Member Since 2009

    When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A masterly all together different autobiography"

    I was frequently reminded of Nelson Mandela's "Conversations with myself" while listening to Samuel L. Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain's first volume of his 'complete' autobiography. While it takes the form of a short life sketches, Twain's vivid descriptions, fine humour and humaneness resonated with me at different levels. When a great deal of his autobiography is related by hooking on to his daughter, Suzy's 'biography' of him, it felt as if I was caught up in a net of fondness and in the end sadness as his reminiscences were framed by her death. You can hear a man of great satire showing how utmost human and vulnerable one can be.

    In short, this autobiography pulls you in and shares the whole range of human experiences with you in the style of a storyteller. It is not so well structured and unconventional, parts written, huge parts dictated, but with a very honest feel to it. I was able to laugh and cry with Twain.

    Grover Gardner made me believe that Twain was himself telling the story. Such excellent narration, I have not heard for some time.

    About the technical introduction, it could put you off in listening further or you could explore the treasure trove at an online site. I found that it hugely enriched this audio-book. I would strongly advise to make a turn there. The photos and some manuscript pages helped me gain something tangible to understand the times and the persons Mark Twain spoke of.

    This is a must listen to everyone.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen San Diego, CA, United States 08-20-12
    Stephen San Diego, CA, United States 08-20-12 Member Since 2009

    I'm just this guy, y'know?

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    "It rambles, but it's fascinating..."

    There is so much wit and humor in here that it is hard to say anything bad about it. It *IS* scattered (by its own admission) and it is also feels "unfinished" but it is well worth reading. He lived through such a fascinating era, saw so much, and knew so many historical figures that it would be worth reading for that reason alone.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine Stormville, NY, United States 04-28-12
    Elaine Stormville, NY, United States 04-28-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Only if you like research"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Mark Twain never could write an autobiography. As he says, he writes about what interests him--and it obviously is not his own life. Comments about others come easy to Twain but the reader has to dig to get a view of Twain's life. The sections from his daughter Susie, who died young, do give some continuity to this scholarly book. Mainly, it is incidents, thoughts, anecdotes and opinions that Twain puts down in any order and in any way he wants. Luckily, even his random thoughts are interesting. Don't come to this expecting to understand Twain's life. It is more a slice of life seen from Twain's twinkling eyes.


    What was most disappointing about Mark Twain’s story?

    The most disappointing part is that I came away not having a real sense of his life.


    Have you listened to any of Grover Gardner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    The narrator was excellent.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. A. New York State 04-28-12
    E. A. New York State 04-28-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Only if you like research"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Mark Twain never could write an autobiography. As he says, he writes about what interests him--and it obviously is not his own life. Comments about others come easy to Twain but the reader has to dig to get a view of Twain's life. The sections from his daughter Susie, who died young, do give some continuity to this scholarly book. Mainly, it is incidents, thoughts, anecdotes and opinions that Twain puts down in any order and in any way he wants. Luckily, even his random thoughts are interesting. Don't come to this expecting to understand Twain's life. It is more a slice of life seen from Twain's twinkling eyes.


    What was most disappointing about Mark Twain???s story?

    The most disappointing part is that I came away not having a real sense of his life.


    Have you listened to any of Grover Gardner???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    The narrator was excellent.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    elizabeth United States 04-22-12
    elizabeth United States 04-22-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Too difficult to follow"

    I tried listening to this book and it was just too difficult to follow. It didn't seem like an autobiography at all but instead it was a bunch of researchers and historians praising themselves. I know two people who tried reading the book and quit for the same reason. I do not recommend - despite how much you might like Mark Twain.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Samuel Evanston, IL, United States 03-17-12
    Samuel Evanston, IL, United States 03-17-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Disappointing--"

    I suppose I listened to the hype but I thought there might be some of Mark Twain in his prime here. Never mind that the editors' introduction is half an hour too long. Not his fault. But this is that self-impressed, dull Mark Twain who wrote all those books that aren't classics. There is little charm, no humor, and a void of interesting stories.
    Apparently he had an idea that if a biography isn't sequential, it must be special. However, he didn't publish this book. It just came out a century or so after his death. So whatever the editors and publishers had in mind, this isn't a book Twain insisted on publishing. And one thing I certainly learned about Twain is that, if there was a chance to make money without embarrassing himself, he would publish. But wait, I already knew that. I don't think I learned anything new about the guy--or the writer.
    Only historians of U.S, Grant would find huge hunks of this monster interesting. A lot of it I remember reading elsewhere. But most of all, if Twain wasn't writing humorously, he wasn't Twain for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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