Andres's Reviews > Autobiography, Vol. 1

Autobiography, Vol. 1 by Mark Twain
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Jan 09, 11

bookshelves: sonyreader
Read in January, 2011

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 beautiful example of the literary heritage of our nation should not be tampered with in any way. Hopefully readers will be cultured enough to recognize it is a product of its time, written by a man who supported abolition even before it was in vogue. Revisionism is a nasty thing, whether it be holocaust deniers or literary censors.

Now, I did just finish reading Volume 1, and in the same article that made reference to the above, this volume is mentioned as a surprise best-seller. I am having trouble understanding why Twain's autobiography doing well would surprise anyone. He was a fascinating man, living at a fascinating time, and with a talent for humor that anyone would kill for. His autobiography, what has been published so far, is very readable, and filled as much with humor as with the pathos of Clemens's many tragedies. Reading his funny asides on the events of his time, along with his biting commentary on the evil and common stupidity he saw, interspersed with his anguish and despair at the loss of his wife and several of his children was a rare experience.

The only thing I could complain about is that the tome has more notes and appendixes than actual autobiography, but that is par for the course in a work of this nature. Mark Twain left instructions that his autobiography not be published until a 100 years after his death. I am just happy I happen to be alive at the time, and also hope they hurry up with the other two tomes.
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