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Autobiography, Vol. 1 (Autobiography of Mark Twain #1)

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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  4,116 ratings  ·  546 reviews
"I've struck it!" Mark Twain wrote in a 1904 letter to a friend. "And I will give it away--to you. You will never know how much enjoyment you have lost until you get to dictating your autobiography." Thus, after dozens of false starts and hundreds of pages, Twain embarked on his "Final (and Right) Plan" for telling the story of his life. His innovative notion--to "talk onl ...more
Hardcover, Complete & Authoritative (Annotated), 760 pages
Published November 15th 2010 by University of California Press (first published January 1st 1924)
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mai ahmd

يقول مارك توين إنه كتب هذه السيرة من أجل لقمة العيش .. والمؤسف حقا إنه خلال كتابته لهذه السيرة فقد ابنته جين مما جعله يتوقف عن الكتابة حتى عاد لها بعد فترة مريرة من الحزن والشعور بالفراغ فتجده يردد لمن بنيت هذا البيت فالفراغ يحيط به بعد خطوب عديدة مرت عليه منها وفاة زوجته ورفيقة دربه وأميرة حياته الزوجة التي قال عنها توين إنها أنبل وأرق وأجمل مخلوق عرفته في حياتي


مارك توين كاتب رائع قرأت له توم سوير قبل كم شهر ووجدت أن تلك الرواية الرائعة لا تقل براءة وجمالا وشقاوة عن ذلك الكارتون الرائع الذي جس
...more
Jen
I read the whole thing cover to cover (minus the appendix notes, which I merely browsed). And as massive as it was, I was genuinely sad when the last page came. That's all? I'm ready for volume two right now.

I feel so fortunate to be alive in 2010 and get to read these words Twain didn't want published until 100 years after his death. Actually, much of it has been published before so there was a lot I was already familiar with. But it was almost magical to read Twain's thoughts, musings, and mor
...more
blue-collar mind
Well let me start off by saying I have always disliked Garrison Keillor and now feel certain that it would be reciprocal if say we met at a party. I am quite sure he would stand in the middle of the room and give us his opinion on any number of subjects while many tried to politely ignore his pompous drift. And that finally I would not be able to keep my opinion silent and the two of us would end with a "oh, really? Why should I care what you think?" sort of back and forth that is never resolved ...more
Linda
I read this in the audiobook version.
The editors’ long and tedious explanation of the autobiographical material takes up most of the first part of this three-part audiobook. I believe that Mark Twain would have had a good laugh at the pomposity of the editors and their footnotes; unfortunately I found it insufferably boring and a very poor use of audio. If I had been reading a print version I would have skimmed or skipped this beginning all together.

I wanted to read Twain’s writing not what all
...more
Fred Houston
Twain requested that his publisher wait 100 years after his death to publish his Autobiography because he wanted to vent about some of the people he knew in his lifetime, but didn't necessarily want to instigate libel suites. So I was ready for some classic, vintage Twain, and as soon as I was aware of the book I ordered it.

Well, after slogging my way through most of it I can say that, for me, there is a lot of auto, and not a lot of biography in the book. Twain is unable to write anything witho
...more
Steven Peterson
WOW! This volume is a wonder. For one thing, it provides something like a mystery novel perspective on the archeology of Samuel Clemens'/Mark Twain's autobiography. He wrote fragments to be part of this document over a period of four decades. Simply getting a sense of the architecture for this work desired by Twain is a contribution of this work.

Also, Twain notes that he is unable to be consistently honest about his life. Nice candor! He demanded that his version not be published until 100 years
...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

It's funny, I think, how random the process can sometimes be of who we as a culture decide to remember for decades or sometimes centuries after their time, and who we tend to forget just a generation or two after their death, no matter how famous they were when alive; take for example Samuel Clemens, who I
...more
Sheri
It is a sorry day when I have to write a review of anything by Mark Twain and say I didn't like it, given that I adore Twain and pretty much all of his (previously) published works. So why didn't I like this book? And why will I boycott Volumes 2 and 3 when (presumably) they're published? Because this book is the literary equivalent of what you see when a famous musician dies and his/her copyright heirs rush to release every garage recording ever made by the dead musician. The only difference he ...more
Mr. Mullins
For full disclosure, I am biased towards Twain, and though many may not like the unconventional structure or all the academic discussion surrounding the actual voice of Twain, I enjoyed it tremendously. His voice was there in the text. It was as one poster pointed out like sitting down with him and having a conversation. It flowed from one item to the next as he wished it to often with acute insight into historical figures he had dined with or met and his wide travels. I look forward to what com ...more
Natalie
Oct 01, 2010 Natalie marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction
Why leave your autobiography unpublished for 100 years? so you can be "dead, and unaware, and indifferent" by the time anyone reads it according to Mark Twain! I am looking forward to this first volume of uncensored autobiography to be released Oct 29th! Might be a time capsule of quotes or a revelation of the goings on a century ago, or neither .. . but it's tempting stuff nonetheless.
David
I read only the free ebook sample from the Amazon Kindle Store.
I may purchase the printed hardcover edition.
More importantly, I registered online to http://marktwainproject.org.
As you will find on the home screen, they have the latest electronic edition of the entire first volume of the autobiography, complete with annotations, commentaries, and appendices. It's free.

The sample I read prepared me for the online features. Besides the text of the autobiography, you get highlighted links to every
...more
Mark Mikula
It makes me feel uncomfortable to admit that I did not get much out of the Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1. With the exception of a handful of passages, I thought it was a dreary mess, not worth publication. For someone as revered and iconic as Mark Twain, I expected to enjoy this so much more.

I am reminded occasionally in revisiting Twain about how frequently he impresses me with his skill with the language--especially with verbs--though. The verbs really crackle in his writing, primarily
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Michael
I just spent several hours browsing this book drawn from Twain's intermittent writing, typing and dictating over 30 years or so. It strikes me as a ponderous academic folly. For all the time spent editing these papers the result is a formless jumble of outtakes and emphemera.

Much of it is obviously sketches that Twain intended to revise later or never wished to publish.
Example from page 240 about Villa de Quarto:

"There is a history of the house somewhere, and some time or other I shall get it
...more
Andres
This is volume one of what is supposed to be a 3-volume work, but as of this writing is the only volume that has been published. A few days ago the news that some idiot is publishing a sanitized (censored) version of Huckleberry Finn made headlines. The idea is to expunge the word "nigger" from the book. While I can understand that the term is charged with emotional energy due to its derogatory use, it is nonetheless part and parcel of the history of the time, and Huckleberry Finn, as a beautifu ...more
Brady
The five stars is for the actual autobiography itself. The book is over 700 pages, but about half of that is introduction, preliminary manuscripts and notes, additional notes, etc etc. I think the editors went a bit overboard with that side of it. But Twain's actual content is terrific. Simply terrific. He led a most amazing life and relates it in such a way it feels like anyone could also achieve it. I look forward to the future volumes - especially if it's easier to avoid all the editorial mat ...more
Richard Sutton
Dec 01, 2010 Richard Sutton rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: writers and readers alike
First and foremost, this is not a book to be...completed. At least not in a linear fashion. Rather, it is a collection of the observations of the nineteenth century's most formidable speaker, novelist and pundit. Mr. Clemens -- Twain if you prefer -- is still, 100 years after his death, a remarkably honest, gifted and very funny writer. The volume begins with almost 5/8" of literary authenticity and notes regarding the inception of this particular attempt at publishing it all. Thumb past it quic ...more
Haven Fairfield
My wife wanted this and got it for Christmas from her very generous brother and sister-in-law. Apparently, they forgot about her shady husband's pilfering ways. I snagged it away from her 'to read' pile before she had time to remove the shrink wrap. I then commenced to take three months to read the damned thing. My only regret is that I forgot I was part of this "Goodreads" website. I had been writing reviews of books prior to reading this one. This means I should write a review of Mark Twain's ...more
Laura
Nov 13, 2010 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bettie, Chrissie, Hayes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert Busko
This particular autobiography is like setting down with Samuel Clemens in a room and having a casual conversation with the man. His thoughts are clear and expressed conversationally and appear to come to the forefront almost as if he were speaking privately with a friend. One of the most impressive things about Clemens in his autobiography is his willingness to speak candidly and with little restraint. I suspect this came from his knowing that what he said would not be published for 100 years af ...more
Austin
I came away from reading (listening to actually - it was an audiobook) Mark Twain's autobiography with what feels like a healthy understanding of who Mark Twain was and to some extent what he was like. This was especially gratifying because, as is the case with most humans, he reminds me a lot of myself in some ways, notably his inability to wake up or stay awake in the wee hours of the morning to tend the needs of the children (I fall asleep, and stay asleep with no known exceptions), and his d ...more
Tom
Nov 09, 2010 Tom marked it as to-read
I can't believe that Mark Twain had this in mind. The most accessible of Great American Authors has had his final work published in a text that is virtually unreadable without klieg lights and a magnifying glass. This book, and Twain's readers, deserve a better, more accessible volume. One that people might want to actually sit down and read sometime without feeling like they're prepping for an exam.

Beware -- this book is not really intended for the common or casual reader. This is a Big Fat Sch
...more
Steven
Though this is not a great book, it is a good contribution to the picture of the man who was perhaps our greatest idealist. He lived through and witnessed so much important history. He knew presidents, kings, scoundrels, and very simple people. He speaks with a great deal of warmth and humanity about many different people. And he pokes as much fun, and scorn, at himself as he does anyone else (particularly editors) in this rambling reminiscence.

The book is too long. It is best digested as an aud
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James Enge
This is not Twain's greatest work, and a lot of it has seen the light of day before. But earlier editions distorted the book in two ways, one of which Twain intended and the other he didn't.

Whereas this edition proposes to publish the complete text of Twain autobiographical writings in three volumes (and online at http://www.marktwainproject.org), earlier editions left a lot of the text out. That would have been fine with Twain: he envisioned a series of editions after his death, each successiv
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Mark
I had to put this one down for a while. This is a challenging read that requires some patience. Anyone looking for a chronological autobiography or conventional memoir will be sorely disappointed. Twain had two basic concepts guiding his auto-bio. One, it should not follow an expected timeline but be more of a random collection of life experiences. And two, it should not be published until 100 years after his death, to allow him the freedom to write from his heart without offending anyone. The r ...more
M. Fenn
So, Mark Twain's autobiography, volume 1. Yes, the book is 736 pages, but Twain's story itself is only 405. The rest is made up of a very thorough introduction, explanatory notes, appendices, references, and the index.

I found the introduction quite interesting, as the editor set out the history of Twain's attempts at writing his autobiography over the years and the method he finally settled on. They also delved into what had been done with the manuscript after his death. His previous biographers
...more
James
Mark Twain did not write a conventional autobiography, and it has not been published conventionally. He tried at various times and in various ways to get his life story down on paper, and what resulted was a mishmash of unordered (or at least unconventionally ordered) stories, notes, copies of old talks, and miscellany that kind-of sort-of adds up to life story. He also asked that it not be published until 100 years after his death–while portions of it have been published previously, the 2010 ed ...more
Gloria
Another one of those instances where a half-star rating would be helpful (to take it to 3 1/2).

I love Mark Twain. His wit and commentary slay me. And he seemed like a fascinating, complicated man. Consequently, I've read a great deal about him.

I was excited when I heard these autobiographies were coming out.
Now that I've read through (the majority of) the first one (gonna be honest, I did skip around a bit as it got just long and ... overwhelming), I'm a tiny bit disappointed.
A lot of his growin
...more
Elisa
This book is good- some passages are even great (I'm thinking specifically of Twain's description of what it's like when one's mother buys a watermelon)- but it's just so damn difficult to get to the good parts. The editors have made this a tedious read, one which I'm loathe to admit I couldn't wade through in its entirety in the two weeks I was allotted to read this. It's more of a book to read over the span of several months, which I may do at some point when I'm feeling ambitious.

What earns t
...more
Cheryl
I don't know why do many professional reviewers are dismissing this book. I also don't have a clear idea of what is new about the "complete" version versus the earlier edited-down ones, but I am thoroughly enjoying it. I have it on my iPod Kindle and the episodic nature of the chapters is an advantage, because whenever I have a small amount of time to read, I can finish a thought. So far I've really loved a lot of his reminiscences--how he got in trouble roasting honored American writers, his eu ...more
Barry
This edition of Mark Twain's autobiography is both the author's book and a scholarly work. It is intended for more than a lover of the works of the author, and at times the long academic introduction tries the patience of the reader - unless he/she is a professor of American literature. I appreciate the considerable effort this book required, so one must take my remarks with a grain of salt. As a student of American lit, I wanted to hear the uncensored voice of Twain, and it comes through wonder ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Autobiography of Mark Twain, vol 1, publication date 3 23 Dec 15, 2011 08:42PM  
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Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also work
...more
More about Mark Twain...
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Adventures of Tom Sawyer The Prince and the Pauper A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“He said that man’s heart was the only bad heart in the animal kingdom; that man was the only animal capable of feeling malice, envy, vindictiveness, revengefulness, hatred, selfishness, the only animal that loves drunkenness, almost the only animal that could endure personal uncleanliness and a filthy habitation, the sole animal in whom was fully developed the base instinct called patriotism, the sole animal that robs, persecutes, oppresses and kills members of his own tribe, the sole animal that steals and enslaves the members of any tribe.” 44 likes
“I have been on the verge of being an angel all my life, but it's never happened yet.” 14 likes
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