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Paperback The Autobiography of Mark Twain Book

ISBN: 0060920254

ISBN13: 9780060920258

The Autobiography of Mark Twain

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Book Overview

The wonderfully readable and endlessly fascinating autobiography of one of America's foremost men of letters.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A Rich History told by the Master

Buy this book, kick back in your easy chair and be prepared to take a journey with the Master of American Literature himself as he lies near death. From the Mighty Mississippi to the latter days of the Gold Rush; to the lecture (lyceum) circuit of his thirties-forties; and on to a family life of tragedy after tragedy and finally triumph, Mr. Twain will take you, the reader, into his mind where you'll share his wit, wisdom, and secrets. A must buy for any Twain lover or anyone interested in the 19th Century from a man who lived it. Lived it indeed!

A good book about a great man

Firstly, the bad news: this is not the complete autobiography, but only a selection. Twain's entire manuscript for the autobiography seems to be about 400,000 to 500,000 words, so an editor must pick and choose to compile a single-volume edition. Neider has arranged his selections in roughly chronological order. One can only hope someone will undertake the monumental task of compiling the complete autobiography, in the order Twain desired it, soon. Secondly, more bad news: in the Introduction, Neider takes snide swipes at previous editors. He also makes a hubristic statement about excluding some material because, "I do not believe that it would do justice to Mark Twain's literary reputation to publish these sections." Finally, the good news: once you get past Neider's rant of an introduction, you get Twain himself. This book is very satisfying because, as you read, you feel as though you are becoming acquainted with the man, Samuel Clemens. By so doing, you also share some of his insight into human nature. Twain says, "I have found that there is no ingredient of the human race that I do not possess in either a small way or large way....As a result, my private and concealed opinion of myself is not of a complimentary sort. It follows that my estimate of the human race is the duplicate of my estimate of myself". The value of this book is that, after reading it, you want to get to know Twain even better. Now, if only the same could be said of more particular examples of the human race.

A glimpse into the mind and heart of a genius!

Treat yourself to the autobiography of a great man whose rich life held everything - humor, joy, sadness, passion and heartbreak. I love his highly evolved sense of social justice and his clear perception of the hypocrisies of his time (and indeed ours). The most touching aspect of this book is the way he opens up and gives us access to the most intimate and tender parts of himself. This is one of the best autobiograpies I've ever read and I've read it countless times. This book will touch your heart and make you laugh out loud.

My favorite version

The problem with putting together Twain's ramblings about himself is that in the original, they are scattered all over his life in no particular organization. The editors of this version have put them in roughly chronological order and taken out some of the more repetitious pieces--and it really works well when you sit down with this remarkable book and make your way through the life tale of the greatest of all tall tale men.What also comes through clearly is the immense sadness and loneliness he felt at the end of his life. He is a man looking back on a lifetime of irreplaceable moments, some tragic, some unjust, many downright hilarious--and some unspeakably poignant, as when Twain mentions his pride to discover that his little daughter Susy, who died before him, had started writing his biography. If you want to know more about the man who saw a river so wide it only had one bank, this is the place. More than almost any biography I can remember, this one made me smile, made me laugh loudly, and just as often filled my eyes with tears. "I love to think of the great and godlike Clemens." -- Rudyard Kipling

Wonderful

This is technically perhaps not a great autobiography, in that it is rather a scrap book of anecdotes from Twain's life, with a casual tone that serious-minded readers might find less than fulfilling; but the anecdotes that work are brilliant, and I have read the brilliant ones countless times. I have read the parts about Twain's mother over and over, because she is the type person I aspire to be!! I'll give one anecdote about her to explain: There was a fierce, strongly built Corsican in Hannibal chasing his daughter through the streets with a thick rope, threatening to beat her with it. All the strongest men did not interfere as this man chased his daughter. The daughter finally came to Mrs. Clemens' door, and she let the girl in the door. But rather than shut the door, Mrs. Clemens--a frail woman--stood in the door way, blocking the way of the Corsican. The Corsican yelled at her, threatening her with the rope to get out of the way so he could get to his daughter. But Mrs. Clemens stood firm, and then berated the Corsican for chasing his daughter, and shamed his manhood, so that he finally swore with a blasphemous oath that she was the bravest woman he had ever met. He gave the rope to her, left his daughter alone, and he and Mrs. Clemens were friends after that. For, as Twain puts it, "he had found in her a long-wanted need. Someone who was not afraid of him."I'd truly love typing my favorite bits of this book for you to read here. But Twain certainly tells them better, so I recommend you buy the book instead. You won't regret it. It will make you feel good about being American. And not in any patriotic sense, but in a down-to-earth sense.
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