Michael McCue, January 20, 2012 (view all comments by Michael McCue)
Huge dense book, too much to absorb in one reading but well worth the effort. Clemons left instructions that these writings(dictations really)should not be published until one hundred years after his death. At first I thought that it was so mild that there was no good reason why it should not have been published earlier.However the comments on some public figures were quite severe. Twain said what he thought about Theodore Roosevelt and others. Perhaps it was best that they never saw what he thought. In today's world of Blogs there are fewer unpublished thoughts, that is a loss.
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Annie Oaklee, February 9, 2011 (view all comments by Annie Oaklee)
I have a vintage Russian postage stamp that curiously depicted Mark Twain during his lifetime. After reading this biography, I now understand why. He took on a world wide lecture to pay the bills! Volume 1 shows Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens as a naive human capable of great mistakes in judgment -- like his typesetting machine investment -- as well as great achievements. He sharply writes about resentment over the real life swindlers who trailed after him then just like lottery winners and celebrities experience today. He just as easily displays a vulnerable, heartsick side due to the loss of his wife and other family.
Who knew that the literary and scientific experts who lectured at the time were so much like our modern rock stars who travel to do concerts and then party 19th century style afterward? His scathing sendup of a publisher who had the audacity to edit his guest introduction to another author's book was hilarious -- and never sent. Mark Twain just wasn't that mean spirited.
Mark Twain had setbacks, rejection slips, misspellings of his name but he perservered. He was an imperfect human and a procrastinator like so many of us. He remains an inspriation to all writers published and not today. And I believe he would have been very comfortable living in any era. Consider the photo of Mark Twain reading the papers and conducting business from the comfort of his bed each morning. It's not a stretch to picture him just as comfortable in the 21st Century and doing that today -- with an Apple Powerbook on his lap.
It's a book not meant to be read cover to cover but to be picked up, find a spot and read. Maybe some of the reviewers before me need to actually do just that. For me, I'm looking forward to the next two volumes.
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Dick Eyde, January 14, 2011 (view all comments by Dick Eyde)
Even if you've read the Autobiography of Mark Twain that was edited by Charles Neider, you'll want to read the new one that contains the material that Clemens didn't want published until 100 years after his death; he has some very honest opinions about movers and shakers that probably SHOULD not have been published while the folks were still alive. You'll want to us two bookmarks -- one to keep your place in the narrative, the other to check on the material in the appendices as you go along.
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Autobiography of Mark Twain: The Complete and Authoritative Edition, Volume 1 (Mark Twain Papers)
0 stars -
University of California Press -
At last, the wait is over! Exactly 100 years after his death, Mark Twain's autobiography is finally available. In this first of three volumes, the great Samuel Clemens tells his most epic tale of all: the frank and fascinating story of his remarkable life.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Mark Twain is his own greatest character in this brilliant self-portrait, the first of three volumes collected by the Mark Twain Project on the centenary of the author's death. It is published complete and unexpurgated for the first time. (Twain wanted his more scalding opinions suppressed until long after his death.) 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 — most tenderly in an elegy for his daughter Susy, who died in her early 20s of meningitis — 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. 66 photos and line illus. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
by London Times,
"It will be unparalleled in the history of literature... a bequest to posterity."
by Ron Powers, author of Mark Twain: A Life,
"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's 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."
by Roy Blount, Jr.,
"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."
by New York Review of Books,
"Sometimes the autobiography seems Twain's letter to posterity. At other times, reading it feels like eavesdropping on a conversation he is having with himself....This first installment of Twain's autobiography brings us closer to all of him than we have ever come before."
by New York Times,
"Dip into the first enormous volume of Twain's autobiography that he had decreed should not appear until 100 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."
by Los Angeles Times Book Review,
"Twain generously provides the 21st century aficionado a marvelous read. His crystalline humor and expansive range are a continuous source of delight and awe....[He] has given us 'an astonishment' in his autobiography with his final, beautifully unorganized genius and intemperate thoughts. Pull up a chair and revel."
by Herald Scotland,
"Promises a no-holds barred perspective on Twain's life, and will be rich with rambunctious, uncompromising opinions."
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