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Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1: The Complete and Authoritative Edition (Mark Twain Papers) Hardcover – 15 Oct 2010
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"Twian's 'Final Plan' has been released in a truly spectacular first volume of his posthumous 'Autobiography'."--Vitali Vitaliev"Engineering & Technology" (02/01/2011)
"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."-- (02/24/2011)
"This is a book to treasure for all friends of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn."--Acadiana Lifestyle Magazine (12/01/2010)
"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."-- (09/17/2010)
"This is a book for dipping, not plunging. Read, as Twain might put it, until interest pales, and then jump. It feels like a form of time travel."-- (11/27/2010)
"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."-- (11/14/2010)
"Twain would approve!"--Bookideas.com (12/29/2010)
"Twain's writing here is electric, alternately moving and hilarious. He couldn't write a ho-hum sentence."-- (09/15/2010)
"Twain's autobiography, finally available after a century, is a garrulous outpouring--and every word beguiles."--Wall Street Journal (11/13/2010)
"A major achevement."--Choice (04/20/2011)
From the Inside Flap
"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."--Roy Blount, Jr.
"To say that the editors have done an extremely good job is a little like saying the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel does a good job of keeping the rain off the Pope's head. It is true but it doesn't give even a whiff of the grandeur of the thing."--Robert D. Richardson, author of Emerson: The Mind on Fire
"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."--Ron Powers, author of Mark Twain: A Life
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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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