82 of 82 people found the following review helpful
Monumental and ambitious work,
This review is from: Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 (Mark Twain Papers) (Hardcover)This is an exhaustive and in a good way, exhausting read. Indeed if the book has a fault is it's sheer scope. There is so much in here that you have to put it down regularly to get your breath back! Luckily the format lends itself to such "dipping" as it is not laid out in traditional, chronological chapters, but in the order the separate episodes were dictated and recorded. This means that you can re-join the story almost like you are picking up an ongoing conversation with the great man himself.
In this first volume there are also various snippets and notes that Twain had intended for publication as well as loads of references and expanded footnotes for the true enthusiast. But the bulk of the volume is the series of dictations that were recorded from 1906 which allows Twain to digress and return to various narratives, introduce different characters (including many famous ones like RL Stevenson) and tell their stories as well as the often hilarious, poignant and exciting tales involving the author himself. These are annotated in the margin either by year of the event or name of the protagonist which seems a neat way of dealing with what might have become an overly rambling and hard to follow account. I don't know how much of the praise should go to the author or the editors for ensuring that the narrative is easy to follow but they succeed admirably. For me the unique aspect of this sort of autobiography is that you can almost literally hear Twain's voice which gives an added piquancy to the story and makes it easy to digest.
This is a physically imposing volume so you won't be reading this on the train, but it is a beautiful piece of work, an amazing price and there are two further volumes promised! I can't praise this book enough and it and the successor volumes will surely go down as one of the greatest literary biographies of all time, if not one of the best of any kind.
BTW I have heard a snippet of the audio book and it sounds like an excellent investment as well although I don't know how this will deal with the notes etc.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Nov 2010 00:41:22 GMT
Yes, thanks for the reveiw, I am currently listening to this work abridged on BOOK OF THE WEEK on radio 4 and it is excellent. I want this book!
In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2010 22:29:22 GMT
T. Costick says:
Agree. The BBC R4 readings are excellent. They really capture the mischievous humour of the man. I never found time to read his work but, having heard the readings, I have now some of these on my Kindle. Likewise, I'm not normally a reader of [auto]biographies but this is one that I shall be getting. As a recent convert to the Kindle, I'll look at the sample (one of the things I really like about the Kindle) to see whether the format is agreeable. From this review, though, I think I shall get the hard-copy version.
In reply to an earlier post on 16 Nov 2010 21:14:57 GMT
The Radio 4 readings look to be the recordings done for the 'audible' version (unabridged). The reader is great, oh and the kindle price just dropped......! :)
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Nov 2010 13:26:16 GMT
Helen Larkin says:
Received this impressive tome as a birthday present. To those not familiar with Twain may I suggest his travel books as a starting point?
Posted on 3 Dec 2010 12:37:21 GMT
M. A. Thompson says:
it might be a good idea if Amazon was actually willing to stock this book............as a book
In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2010 09:49:42 GMT
emma who reads a lot says:
Jim i always love your reviews, thank you,
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