“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 The strict instruction that many of these texts remain unpublished for 100 years meant that when they came out, he would be “dead, and unaware, and indifferent” and that he was therefore free to speak his “whole frank mind”.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.
“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)
An educator and senior who listens to his books from his phone through his hearing aids.
After patiently waiting for the narrator to thank hundreds of patrons who made this listen possible, I finally got to hear the scholars who put the work together provide me with intriguing advanced organizers to help me navigate the next ten hours with Mr. Twain. When the book finally shifted into first person, I was treated to a delightful visit with a man like that uncle or grandfather that many were blessed with as children who would ramble through stories of his life both funny and poignant that you begged to hear over and over. His microscopic examination of the "Gilded Age" is a treasure. His discussion of his friendship and help to General Grant offered great insights into that interesting man. The listen never leaves the listener more than of few moments without another taste of Mark Twain's genius humor.
Like some of the other readers, I was impatient with the beginning of the audiobook: the Introduction accounts for nearly sixty pages of the print version. But after listening to this volume, which is only the first (!), I have come to think that the scholarly introduction enhanced my eventual appreciation of the work.
It is important for the reader to understand how different MT's is from other autobiographies, and the Introduction helps to make that clear. When I heard (read) that MT stubbornly insisted that his dictations were to be arranged just as he dictated them, rather than being reorganized into a chronological, more narrative order, I didn't think this could work. But the result is that I feel like I'm witnessing the operation of MT's own mind, and picking up the connections between what had happened previously in his life and the events of the days in which he was dictating.
In particular, I thought that his reconstruction of Susy's biography of him, with interspersed corrections and reminiscences, made that work (which I've read and taught as a separate publication called "Papa") come alive in a way which reading it by itself does not.
The reminiscences also make clear something that I had never noticed before, which is the extent to which he was a virtual New Yorker, at least later in life.
What comes through very clearly is MT's personality. I get the impression that it would have been a great thing to be his friend, but I would not have enjoyed being on his bad side! His scorn for people he saw as misguided, venal, or unreliable was withering.
To those who think the thing is just too damn long, I guess I would suggest that that is what you read an unabridged version for. An abridged version (leaving out the editor's introduction and some of MT's earlier autobiographical attempts) would probably be more readable, but I felt that this version rewarded my patience.
Yes, it's a doorstop, but I'm looking forward to Volumes 2 and 3!
From the multiple starts and stops at attempting an autobiography, Samuel Clemmens finds organization by using his daughter's biography, of him, as well as other methods as a rough outline to tell his tale. He is a good storyteller and Grover Gardner did a superb job. I did skip most of the first three chapters though as it was notes about how the autobiography was put together from so much separate material.
I have been a fan of Twain's books and love his wit and comments on life. This book was such a pleasure to "listen" to. I don't think I could have read it though. I like how it is not written from the time of his birth to when he finished writing, but how one story leads to another which leads to another. I really enjoyed this book and highly recomend it. I look forward to the next two volumes.
The book starts with a long preface on the Mark Twain project that I found very academic. The actual biography shows little of the wit and wisdom of Twain's books.
I am delightfully surprised at the humor and writing that is as fresh and readable (listenable) today as it was 100 years ago. Often a book that old is difficult to read and the phrasing is very different than books today. But the Autobiography of Mark Twain is so funny in many parts that you will laugh out loud (it is a rare book that can make you do that). It is not all humor. Many of the stories are tragic or dramatic. But they all have that flair and lightness that make them a true part of Mark Twain. The jumping around of topics is not disjointed but really makes the book enjoyable as you are not forced through the long narratives necessary to tie together good stories in a chronological autobiogrpahy. This is all of the good stuff without all of the filler. I can't wait for the next 2 volumes.
Grover Gardner does an excellent job of narration, but that can't overcome a book that is not only very disjointed, but delves way to deeply into topics that should be covered in a few minutes. The book should be retitled "The Ramblings of an Unorganized Mind." Doesn't come close to living up to the hype it received.
Really enjoyed the stories and the reader does a great job, feels like you're actually listening to Mark Twain. There a couple of drawbacks such as the verbiage describing the project that is responsible for the book and the frequent retelling of the difficulties he had with coming up with the format of the autobiography.
I'm a recovering librarian. Since I had a stroke in 2002 I have found reading print difficult. I am so grateful for audiobooks.
The editors??? long and tedious explanation of the autobiographical material takes up most of the first part of this three-part audiobook. I believe that Mark Twain would have had a good laugh at the pomposity of the editors and their footnotes; unfortunately I found it insufferably boring and a very poor use of audio. If I had been reading a print version I would have skimmed or skipped this beginning all together.
I wanted to read Twain???s writing not what all those other folks think I should get out of reading it. A very brief "We got this stuff from lots of different places and times and some of it's literal and some of it isn't. Enjoy," would have been fine with me. Twain does an excellent job of explaining himself.
I enjoyed this book immensely and at times I felt as though I was actually listening to Mark Twain himself. Although this audio book is long, it is well worth taking the time to listen and learn about one of the greatest authors, his demeanor, disposition, strengths and weakness, and finally what made him so great.
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