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Autobiography of Mark Twain

Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume 1, Reader’s Edition

Benjamin Griffin
Victor Fischer
Michael B. Frank
Sharon K. Goetz
Leslie Diane Myrick
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 440
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  • Book Info
    Autobiography of Mark Twain
    Book Description:

    The year 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of Mark Twain's death. In celebration of this important milestone and in honor of the cherished tradition of publishing Mark Twain's works, UC Press publishedAutobiography of Mark Twain,Volume 1, the first of a projected three-volume edition of the complete, uncensored autobiography. The book became an immediate bestseller and was hailed as the capstone of the life's work of America's favorite author. ThisReader's Edition,a portable paperback in larger type, republishes the text of the hardcoverAutobiographyin a form that is convenient for the general reader, without the editorial explanatory notes. It includes a brief introduction describing the evolution of Mark Twain's ideas about writing his autobiography, as well as a chronology of his life, brief family biographies, and an excerpt from the forthcoming Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2-a controversial but characteristically humorous attack on Christian doctrine.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95244-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-xii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    H. E. S.
    (pp. 1-18)
    H. E. S.

    Between 1870 and 1905 Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) tried repeatedly, and at long intervals, to write (or dictate) his autobiography, always shelving the manuscript before he had made much progress. By 1905 he had accumulated some thirty or forty of these false starts—manuscripts that were essentially experiments, drafts of episodes and chapters; many of these have survived in the Mark Twain Papers and two other libraries. To some of these manuscripts he went so far as to assign chapter numbers that placed them early or late in a narrative which he never filled in, let alone completed. None...


    • An Early Attempt
      (pp. 21-21)

      The chapters which immediately follow constitute a fragment of one of my many attempts (after I was in my forties) to put my life on paper.

      It starts out with good confidence, but suffers the fate of its brethren—is presently abandoned for some other and newer interest. This is not to be wondered at, for its plan is the old, old, old unflexible and difficult one—the plan that starts you at the cradle and drives you straight for the grave, with no side-excursions permitted on the way. Whereas the side-excursions are the life of our life-voyage, and should...

    • My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It]
      (pp. 21-43)

      * * * * So much for the earlier days, and the New England branch of the Clemenses. The other brother settled in the South, and is remotely responsible for me. He has collected his reward generations ago, whatever it was. He went South with his particular friend Fairfax, and settled in Maryland with him, but afterward went further and made his home in Virginia. This is the Fairfax whose descendants were to enjoy a curious distinction—that of being American-born English earls. The founder of the house was Lord General Fairfax of the Parliamentary army, in Cromwell’s time. The...

    • The Latest Attempt
      (pp. 43-44)

      Finally, in Florence in 1904, I hit upon the right way to do an Autobiography: start it at no particular time of your life; wander at your free will all over your life; talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment; drop it the moment its interest threatens to pale, and turn your talk upon the new and more interesting thing that has intruded itself into your mind meantime.

      Also, make the narrative a combined DiaryandAutobiography. In this way you have the vivid things of the present to make a contrast with memories of like...

    • The Final (and Right) Plan
      (pp. 44-44)

      I will construct a text—to precede the Autobiography; also a Preface, to follow said Text.

      What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, and every day, the mill of his brain is grinding, and histhoughts, (which are but the mute articulation of hisfeelings,) not those other things, are his history. Hisactsand hiswordsare merely the visible thin crust of his world, with its scattered snow summits and its vacant...

    • Preface. As from the Grave
      (pp. 44-45)

      In this Autobiography I shall keep in mind the fact that I am speaking from the grave. I am literally speaking from the grave, because I shall be dead when the book issues from the press. At any rate—to be precise—nineteen-twentieths of the book will not see print until after my death.

      I speak from the grave rather than with my living tongue, for a good reason: I can speak thence freely. When a man is writing a book dealing with the privacies of his life—a book which is to be read while he is still alive...

    • Here begin the Florentine Dictations.
      (pp. 46-82)

      Florence, Italy. 31st January 1904.

      A quarter of a century ago I was visiting John Hay, now Secretary of State, at Whitelaw Reid’s house in New York, which Hay was occupying for a few months while Reid was absent on a holiday in Europe. Temporarily also, Hay was editing Reid’s paper, the New YorkTribune. I remember two incidents of that Sunday visit particularly well, and I think I shall use them presently to illustrate something which I intend to say. One of the incidents is immaterial, and I hardly know why it is that it has stayed with me...

    • INTERVAL OF TWO YEARS Now comes the New York dictation, beginning January 9, 1906.
      (pp. 83-368)

      I shall scatter through this Autobiography newspaper clippings without end. When I do not copy them into the text it means that I do not make them a part of the autobiography—at least not of the earlier editions. I put them in on the theory that if they are not interesting in the earlier editions, a time will come when it may be well enough to insert them for the reason that age is quite likely to make them interesting although in their youth they may lack that quality.

      The more I think of this, the more nearly impossible...

    • Photographs
      (pp. None)
    (pp. 369-396)
    (pp. 397-400)
    (pp. 401-406)
    (pp. 407-410)
    (pp. 411-414)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 415-416)