Autobiography of Mark Twain: Vol 1 What’s impressive about the Autobiography of Mark Twain , beyond the obvious sensation of its publication 100 years after the author’s death, is the very… Autobiography of Mark Twain: Vol 1 What’s impressive about the Autobiography of Mark Twain , beyond the obvious sensation of its publication 100 years after the author’s death, is the very… 2010-11-15 Memoir Nonfiction University of California Press
Book Review

Autobiography of Mark Twain: Vol 1 (2010)

Mark Twain | Autobiography of Mark Twain: Vol 1 by Mark Twain
Autobiography of Mark Twain: Vol 1 by Mark Twain
EW's GRADE
A

Details Release Date: Nov 15, 2010; Writer: Mark Twain; Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction; Publisher: University of California Press

What’s impressive about the Autobiography of Mark Twain, beyond the obvious sensation of its publication 100 years after the author’s death, is the very way Twain conceived the book. For him it was a scheme like any other — both an intellectual riddle (how to speak his ''whole frank mind'') and an easy source of money and acclaim he could excerpt at will for the odd magazine piece. The book itself is not exactly revelatory; biographers, who were allowed to read the manuscript, have mined it for years (though there are still plenty of fun ''hidden'' bits, like a clever ode to Thanksgiving as the ''exterminating'' holiday).

Twain shunned chronology or any kind of organization, preferring to dictate whatever thoughts were on his mind, flitting lightly among topics. There’s a wonderful section on his early life in Missouri. And his domestic essays are standouts, especially one about a servant who talked too much (and whom Twain loved for it), as well as all of the pieces on his daughter Susy, who died at 24. His ''whole frank mind,'' sharp and funny, is seared onto every page. A

See all of this week's reviews

Originally posted Nov 10, 2010 Published in issue #1129 Nov 19, 2010 Order article reprints
Advertisement

From Our Partners