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The Autobiography of Mark Twain

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Mark Twain's autobiography is a classic of American letters, to be ranked with the autobiographies of Benjamin Franklin and Henry Adams.... It has the marks of greatness in it--style, scope, imagination, laughter, tragedy."--From the Introduction by Charles Neider

Mark Twain was a figure larger than life: massive in talent, eruptive in temperament, unpredictable in his actions. He crafted stories of heroism, adventure, tragedy, and comedy that reflected the changing America of the time, and he tells his own story--which includes sixteen pages of photos--with the same flair he brought to his fiction. Writing this autobiography on his deathbed, Twain vowed to he "free and frank and unembarrassed" in the recounting of his life and his experiences. Twain was more than a match for the expanding America of riverboats, gold rushes, and the vast westward movement, which provided the material for his novels and which served to inspire this beloved and uniquely American autobiography.

508 pages, Paperback

First published April 1, 1959

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About the author

Mark Twain

9,449 books16.9k followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads database.

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 worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion's newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, before heading west to join Orion. He was a failure at gold mining, so he next turned to journalism. While a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," which proved to be very popular and brought him nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling.

He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker. His wit and satire earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.

However, he lacked financial acumen. Though he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures, in particular the Paige Compositor, and was forced to declare bankruptcy. With the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers, however, he eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain worked hard to ensure that all of his creditors were paid in full, even though his bankruptcy had relieved him of the legal responsibility.

Born during a visit by Halley's Comet, he died on its return. He was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age", and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature".

Excerpted from Wikipedia.

Μαρκ Τουαίν (Greek)

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5 stars
1,762 (37%)
4 stars
1,560 (33%)
3 stars
853 (18%)
2 stars
282 (6%)
1 star
197 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 297 reviews
Profile Image for Susan Branch.
Author 104 books979 followers
June 21, 2013
I started crying from happiness at about page two. When I finished this book, Joe and I got in the car and drove directly to his house in Hartford CT and I cried all the way through that too. He is wonderful, brilliant, genius. Learning about his life from his own pen felt like a gift. From him, I've gleaned tiny informative bits to add to my mental notes on "how to write."
Profile Image for Virgilio.
5 reviews1 follower
November 30, 2010
“In this Autobiography I shall keep in mind that I am speaking from the grave. I am literally speaking from the grave, because I shall be dead when the book issues from the press”(Twain xxxv).
The Autobiography of Mark Twain explores the many aspects and anecdotes of Mark Twain’s life, as well as the many people who influenced Twain and his work immensely. He reveals his personal thoughts of the people around him, and the world around him. He reveals himself as a person who writes what he knows, as many of his beloved characters are based off of people he has known. Since the topic of the book is on his own life, it was very rich and full of detail. This is an exhilarating read, and is easily one of the best books I have read.
Mr. Twain had led very rich and full life, which increase the quality of the piece itself. He goes from having a very incomplete education to having a honorary degree from Oxford University. He’s narrowly avoided death by duel, and faces hardship in the forms of massive debt. He is surrounded by loving family members and greedy publishers. He meets many famous people, including President Ulysses S. Grant, who asked Twain for his help when writing his autobiography.
What struck me about this book was that, at the middle of the book, I started to treat it not as a a boring biography but as an immersive and interesting story. He presents the events of his life with certain flair. For example, when Twain and a fellow author talk about Twain’s private politics:
“Some days afterward I met her again for a moment and she gave me the startling information that she had written down everything I said, just as I said it, without any softening and purifying modifications… She begged me to let her publish.. but I said it would damn me before my time and I don’t wish to be useful to the world on such expensive conditions. (467) ”
However, the writing is a bit sporadic, as he tends to switch from an event from his early childhood to an event later in life. For example, he jumps from talking about his father’s style of cooking potatoes, to a feast that is being hosted by the Emperor of Germany. Although he is able to make it flow very well most of the time, it can become a hassle rereading notes trying to understand what was going on.
Mark Twain’s presentation of his own life is vivid and full. Though his writing was chaotic at times, the Twain flair makes the chaos more exciting, more lively than an ordinary autobiography. Its dynamic presentation, although exciting, can break the pacing of the book. Also, some points of his life by themselves seem mundane. However, in the end, the strengths of The Autobiography of Mark Twain highlights this book as an exciting read.
146 reviews1 follower
February 7, 2017
When it was good it was very very good but when it was bad it was boring af.
Profile Image for May Spangler.
81 reviews
March 28, 2009
Striking: his use of chiasmus (crossing of terms in one sentence). For instance: "When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it" (p. 4). Well, that's high lit and philosophy, all packaged with one powerful sense of humor, plus a touch of teasing. Worse part is that I do feel that way about not remembering right--so he's able to touch me at a very vulnerable spot as well.
Another is: "Perhaps no bread in the world is quite so good as Southern corn bread and perhaps no bread in the world is quite so bad as the Northern imitation of it" (p. 5). Wow! I read Tom Sawyer (in French...) as a girl, and I see now why I liked it quite a bit. This is good stuff.

I finished this autobiography 2 weeks ago. It was a difficult read, because the format is so chopped up: it takes work to get into a piece, and before you know it, the piece is over and you have to work into a new one. BUT, it was not a finished work, Mark Twain dictated a lot of it toward the end of his life, and it was pieced together after his death. So, lower your expectations if you decide to get intimate with a pretty unusual person. 4 stars because it does not stand as a whole.

There are lots of "jewels" in those pieces: stories of his childhood, like the one of the frozen Mississippi (48-49) and the mesmerizer (66-76) which provides life-long munching material (and great topic to discuss with your teenager during a car drive). Loads of intricate thoughts put into striking forms, like: "As a rule, technicalities of a man's vocation and figures and metaphors drawn from it slip out in his talk and reveal his trade; but if this ever happened in Macfarlane's case I was none the wiser, although I was constantly on the watch during half a year for those very betrayals." This is a great thought: to listen to images used by someone to guess who they are. It's funny too, because it did not work in this case, and Mark Twain is the butt of what has become a joke (isn't it so funny to imagine him working so hard for 6 months with no results?).

Mark Twain ends his autobiography with the death of his daughter Jean (he asked his editor to do so if he thought it appropriate). He also shares the death of his wife and other daughter Suzy. There is little literary value and no humor in those final pieces, and it leaves you with a heavy heart that pain could strip this man of his spirit. Nice though (and reassuring...) that such a vivacious scoundrel could love his wife and their daughters with such dedication until death!

Profile Image for Larry Bassett.
1,412 reviews298 followers
December 16, 2010
This is NOT the Mark Twain Post 100 years Autobiography that everyone is talking about. This book was copyrighted in 1959 by the editor Charles Neider. The 2010 Autobiography of Mark Twain. Vol. 1 is found elsewhere on GRs.

Neider's most important book, however, was arguably The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1959), in which he fashioned a chronological structure that was lacking in the original material and included never-before-published passages. Certainly the most widely read version of Mark Twain's autobiographical writings, that book has played a major role in shaping the public image of Mark Twain the man. Source: http://faculty.citadel.edu/leonard/js...

This 1959 version is hardly an autobiography in the born-lived-died sense. In fact, it took me about 50 pages before I figured out that I was going to be disappointed if I continued to look for that kind of an autobiography. This book is really a series of short stories told as if a Mark Twain impersonator was standing up in front of you on stage. With Mark Twain it is always hard to figure out when he is telling the truth. His name is even fiction. His speaking style is often as if he is telling a story. Twain tells stories about his years on the lecture circuit traveling the U.S. and the world telling stories. He is known as an amazing storyteller.

If this was a book of short stories and that was what I was looking for, I would probably give this book three stars. But I was looking for something a little more like an autobiography. I though that it developed more of a coherent whole feeling toward the end. More like one big connected story rather than a random selection of short stories. I am wondering how the new 2010 autobiography will handle my quest to read something about the life and times of Mark Twain; maybe it will have to be a biography. Please let it not be Wikipedia!
Profile Image for Boris.
419 reviews157 followers
August 25, 2019
Авторът на първия роман, който прочетох в живота си. Всяко подрастващо момче може смело да навлезе в живота, ако е чел Марк Твен. Радвам се, че продължавам да го преотривам.
Profile Image for Brian Flatt.
16 reviews4 followers
July 8, 2008
Ok, I have decided to mete out the 5 stars sparingly. The rating wouldn't mean much if it was given to just any old book that I happened to like.
This book though, is without a doubt, one of those few that actually deserves more than 5 stars and it is therefore one of my favorite books of all time.


Well, I think there are some books that you read and you think, upon closing the last page, "Hmmm, that was a pretty good book", but then if asked about it a few days later you might be hard pressed to remember much if anything about it. Other books you read, they affect you, they touch your life, your heart, your soul, and you are changed, a different person afterwards. I have not read too many of those books.

When people are asked to name the books that have changed their lives, I'm always amused at those whose lists are long. My list is short and this one is on the short list.

I absolutely fell in love with Mark Twain and his autobiography. It is even more interesting when you realize that Mark Twain never actually wrote an autobiography. What he did write were a grab bag assortment of small books and personal anecdotes, with the intention of someone else compiling it after his death into an autobiography. That is why each version will be slightly different. This is not the version that I read, but Amazon did not have a photo of it, so I chose this one.

I was just so taken in by the humanity of Mark Twain, his was an American life to be sure, but it was more than that. He was a living human being,much more than just one of America's, the world's, most beloved authors. He was also a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a friend. He was all of those and more. He lived the ups and downs of life. He lived through more than his fair share of tragedy and yet in the end, he was never beaten by life's circumstances. He stayed true to who he was. He stayed forever and inimitably, Mark Twain. He laughed, he cried, he was happy, and he was sad. In the end he was supremely human, not a perfect human being, and his flaws are readily apparent.
This was one of the few books that I have read where I actually had tears streaming down my face when I closed the last page.

From his early boyhood, to the many tragedies in his life, all the way up to the end when he lost his daughter and his wife, this book was incredibly poignant. You couldn't help loving this man even more and being sad that we have no equivalent of Mark Twain today. He died himself the following year after his daughter Jean died and the world has been the worse off ever since.
Profile Image for Jill.
1,862 reviews43 followers
December 9, 2013
I enjoyed this so much. It is a completely unconventional bio, and the introduction is extremely interesting and helpful in understanding the book's structure: it doesn't have one. As Twain remembered things, he wrote them. They were to be published in the order of composition. I like this. It helps it read more like a journal. There were some really tragic accounts. I think saddest of all are the accounts of the deaths of his children - most especially his infant. His daughters seem to be remarkable people - all of them. The accounts of the vast mounts of money he made and lost and his extensive travel make for a fascinating read in and of themselves. Add to that Twain's trademark tongue-in-cheek humor, and it is a whole lot of fun. I would love to go back and read this after becoming intimately familiar with all his work, because he tells about people upon whom many of his characters were based, and I thought that a lot of fun. Kind of like meeting the characters in real life. I wouldn't call this profound necessarily, but it is certainly very enjoyable and there are many nuggets scattered about it. Great stuff!
Profile Image for إيمان عبد المنعم.
469 reviews275 followers
September 16, 2020
عشرون عاما مرت قبل أن أقرأ ثانية لمارك توين، لا أكاد أصدق هذا، "كاتب طفولتي المفضل الذي كانت روايته "مغامرات هكلبري فين هي أول ما أقرأ من روايات على الإطلاق.
لا يمكن لأحد أن يتخيل إلى أي حد شغفت بمغامرات هذين الصديقين المتشردين: هكلبري فين وتوم سوير، وفي كل مرة أقرأ عنهما كنت أكرر قراءة تلك المعلومات الضئيلة عن مارك توين، وبعد عشرين عاما وأنا أقرأ اسمه الحقيقي وأتابع حكايته عن عمله على البواخر وفي الصحف المحلية، تشرق في ذهني تلك المعلومات القديمة التي كررتها مرة بعد مرة ويبدو كأني كنت أحتفظ بها على الدوام صحيحة واضحة دون أن أشعر.
يبدأ مارك توين سيرته بسرد حكايات طفولته، لقد أدهشني وأسعدني أن أكتشف كم يشبه أبطاله الصغار الذين شغفت بهم، لقد كان هو نفسه طفلا مغامرا جريئا غريب الأطوار، ومع ذلك كان حساسا للغاية لكل درجات الجمال ومتمتعا بشعور بالكرامة وخفة الظل في آن واحد، لقد عاش طفولة قاسية لكنه في سيرته لا يغفل الذكريات الجميلة التي انحفرت في وجدانه وتركت آثارها في نفسه إلى آخر العمر، وأنا أقرأ تلك الحكايات كنت أتعجب كيف يحتفظ رجل تجاوز السبعين بذكريات طفولته وكيف يتحدث عنها بوصفها أجمل ما حدث له على الإطلاق، أتعجب وأنا أكثر من يستطيع أن يدرك كم هذا حقيقي ومفهوم! يبدو لي أحيانا أن ذكريات طفولتنا لا تنمحي من قلوبنا أبدا، إننا نتذكرها ليست كأحداث موضوعية مجردة، وإنما نستعيد معها ذات الانفعالات والعواطف الحادة التي كنا نتمتع بها ونحن صغار، الصغار هم أكثر الناس صدقا في مشاعرهم، وهذا الصدق، صدقنا نحن في صغرنا، يغدو من المستحيل نسيانه.
ثم يذكر مارك توين القليل عن سيرته الأدبية والعملية، لقد رأيته قليلا جدا وخاب أملي لتجاهله ذكر روايتيه المفضلتين عندي، وددت لو عرفت في أي ظروف كتبهما وما الذي ألهمه تلك المغامرات وإن كنت لمحت أصول ذلك الإلهام في أحداث حياته هو نفسه، لقد صبر كثيرا على ظروف عمل سيئة وضيق عيش بائس، ورغم أن قصته الأولى قوبلت بالرفض القاطع من أول ناشر يقابله إلا أن صديقه آمن به وسانده حتى نشرها ولاقت نجاحا كبيرا، واستمر هذا النجاح حتى آخر حياته حتى أني اندهشت من علامات هذا النجاح والشهرة التي لم أدركها من قبل بما يكفي.
ثم يعود مارك توين ثانية إلى حياته الشخصية، زوجته وبناته، لا بد أن أقف هنا لأقول أنه من النادر أن يطلع الإنسان على سيرة شخصية لكاتب شهير ويجده يحمل كل هذا الحب والتقدير والاهتمام لزوجته وبناته وأمه، لقد تحدث عن كل واحدة منهن باعتبارها ملاكا، وأفاض في الثناء عليهن ووصف مشاعره تجاههن، لقد مثلن له حياته كلها، وإنه من دواعي الأسى أن يمتد به العمر ليفقدهن الواحدة تلو الأخرى ليعيش وحيدا في بيت واسع فارغ إلا منه، وفي أكثر من موضع توقفت واختنقت بالعبرات، لأن لمست فيها روح الأبوة العظيمة التي طالما أحاطتني طول عمري، خاصة في حديثه عن سوزي ابنته الكبرى، التي ماتت شابة في الرابعة والعشرين من عمرها، وكذلك چين رفيقته الوحيدة بعد وفاة سوزي وزوجته وسفر كلارا، وكيف ماتت فجأة في صباح أحد الأيام وهي لا تزال في ريعان الشباب، لقد وصف حالته حين عرف خبر موتها المفاجيء وهو لا يزال في فراشه صباحا:
"أظنني أعرف الآن كيف يحس جندي تخترق رصاصة قلبه"
لا أعرف لماذا انقلبت هذه السيرة رأسا على عقب، لقد بدأها وخفة ظله تلون مآسي طفولته وحسه الفكاهي يهون من بؤس شبابه، لكن مرارة أيامه الأخيرة لم يخفف منها شيء ولم يبد أنه قادر على تجاوز كل هذا الفقد بغير الإيمان.
فقد شعرت وأنا أقرأ هذه السيرة أن الزمن لم يمر بي قط، كأنه تجاوزني، وتركني طفلة منكبة على كتابها في سكينة ودعة، تقرأ فتبتسم، وتقرأ فتبكي، والعالم بعيد بعيد، بكل ضجيجه وتفاهاته ومآسيه، لا يكاد يخدش طمأنينتها وخفتها وأحلامها البسيطة وأمنياتها الساذجة، كأن الزمن دار عشرين دورة وعاد ليجدني كما أنا، أجلس على أريكة البيت القديم تظلني نخلته العتيقة، أقلب وجهي بين كتابي وبين السماء وأتشرب على مهل الكلمات، وأتأمل بغبطة السحب والطيور والقمر والنجوم، لأعيش عمري كله أرى البهجة في هذين العزيزين: الكتاب والسماء.
Profile Image for Marty Mangold.
100 reviews
December 31, 2020
Twain's Autobiography was dictated and written around 1906, intended for full publication only after 100 years. This is the mid-century edition from 1958 of a portions of that longer work. Restricted by Twain's surviving daughter, and Twain's own instructions, this is not as complete or as long as the subsequent edition, but longer than the editions from the 1920s and 1940s.

Neider provides an excellent introduction, then stays out of the way.

Favorite quote from Neider's introduction, commenting that the autobiography is maybe too unhinged to really succeed, but the writings it contains are wonderful: "One of the ironies of art is that it is possible to win a war and lose the battles, and that it is more tragic to lose the battles than to lose the war."

A favorite Twain quote from this work: " when I was younger I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not."

I think this is valuable as a shorter version of Twain's autobiography as well as a milestone literary moment. The audio version is excellent.
Profile Image for Ale.
46 reviews9 followers
September 27, 2019
Più che una vera autobiografia è un insieme di episodi che Twain narra in ordine più o meno cronologico. Ho trovato poco interessante la parte centrale, in cui parla delle sue avventure e soprattutto disavventure commerciali, anche se sono scritte molto bene e spesso strappano un sorriso. Mi è piaciuta molto la prima parte, in cui Twain ricorda l'infanzia e la giovinezza, e mi sono sinceramente commossa nel leggere le pagine dedicate ai lutti familiari della sua vita adulta (la moglie Livy e le figlie Susy e Jean). Speravo che entrasse più nei dettagli della sua opera ma insomma, fortunatamente ci sono i suoi libri da leggere.
Profile Image for Yomna Suwaydan.
216 reviews96 followers
July 26, 2017
أعرف شخصًا يظهر كم البساطة بداخله للعالم الخارجي على نحو معقد، لحتى أنه قد ينفر من يحادثه منه لأول وهلة. على العكس من ذلك، يظهر أمامي مارك توين، الرجل الذي تمنيت أن أخير لين عدة من عِظام الأشخاص لألتقيهم، بحيث يكون مارك توين لأختاره من بينهم، والذي يمتلك قدرة فائقة على إظهار ما يعتمل في نفسه وعقله من أمور يبلغ بها التعقيد أقصاه بكم من البساطة يوازي حجم ما تشتمل عليه من تعقيد.
رباه، حتى الموت يذكره بكم من البساطة يوحي بألم مبرح يغمره الرضا!

وفي الابتعاد عن بقية العالم من الراحة والرضا ما لا يوجد إلا في الأحلام.
يقول هذا السيد صموئيل كلينسون، أو مارك توين كما اختار أن يطلق على نفسه، والذي توالت عليه المصائب طوال حياته وكأنها عقاب لمشاكسته في طفولته، فيما يبدو أمرًا طبيعيًّا في الواقع، وعندما تبدأ أحواله في التحسن،ترحل ابنته الصغيرة سوزي، ثم زوجته بعد صراع من المرض استمر لحولين كاملين، ثم جين، ابنته، التي لم يتحمل أن يحضر مراسم دفنها حين اشتد عليه الأمر بذهابها هي الأخرى، ومع ذلك، فقد تقبل الأمر برضا، وتقبل أن يأنس بأرواح من رحلوا.
لك أن تتخيل أن تنشر الجريدة خبرًا فكاهيًا بقلم مارك توين في نفس الصفحة التي ينشر فيها خبر وفاة ابنته.

أظن أن حديث سوزي عن أ��يها لهو أهم من حديثي الآن، فقد بدأت كتابة سيرته في سن مبكرة جدًّا، وهاك ما تقول :
" نحن عائلة سعيدة جدًّا. تتكون عائلتنا منا أنا وبابا وماما وجين وكلارا. إن بابا هو من أكتب عنه، ولن أجد عناء في معرفة ما سأقول عنه؛ لأنه شخصية مدهشة جدًّا.
لقد وصفوا أبي مرات كثيرة، ولكنها كانت أوصافًا خاطئة جدًّا. لديه شعر أشيب جميل، ليس شديد الكثافة ولا شديد الطول، فهو في الشكل المناسب. أنفه ذو شكل روماني، وهو يزيد من جمال تقاسيم وجهه بشكل كبير. عيونه زرقاء جميلة، وشاربه قصير. له رأس رائع الشكل، ومظهره جميل جدًّا. باختصار، هو رجل حسن الشكل إلى درجة كبيرة. بشرته شقراء وليس له ذقن. إنه رجل فاضلٌ جدًّا ومُسلٍّ جدًّا. وهو رجل حاد، ولكننا جميعًا كذلك في هذه العائلة. إنه أحسن رجل رأيته في حياتي، وأفضل رجل يمكن أن أراه - آه،إنه شارد الذهن دائمًا. وهو يروي لنا قصصًا في منتهى الجمال...
بابا لديه طريقة خاصة في المشي، وتبدو مناسبة له تمامًا، ولكن غالبية الناس ليست كذلك. وهو دائمًا يمشي إلى الأمام وإلى الخلف في الغرفة أثناء التفكير وبين أوقات الطعام...
يستخدم بابا لغة قوية جدًّا، ولكن ليس لدي معلومات أكيدة بخصوص الوقت الذي تزوج فيه ماما. هناك سيدة من معارفه تقاطع الآخرين عندما يتكلمون. وقد قال بابا لماما إنه يعتقد أن عليه أن يقول لزوج تلك السيدة : إنني مسرور لأن زوجتك لم تكن موجودة حين أمر الله بأن يكون النور. "

يقول مارك توين : قبل ثلاثة عشر عامًا فقدت سوزي، ثم فقدت والدتها قبل خمس سنوات ونصف السنة، والدتها التي لا يوجد لها مثيل بين النساء! وبعد ذلك ذهبت كلارا لتعيش بعيدًا في أوروبا. والآن خسرت جين. ما أشد فقري، أنا الذي كنت يومًا شديد الغنى!
كان عمري أربعة وسبعين عامًا قبل أربعة وعشرين يومًا. يوم أمس كان عمري أربعة وسبعين عامًا، فهل يستطيع أحد أن يقدر عمري اليوم؟

Profile Image for Ahmed Jaber.
Author 5 books1,680 followers
June 29, 2016

أعتقد أنها هذه هي السيرة الرابعة التي أقرأها بعد جابرييل ماركيز وبابلو نيرودا وإبراهيم نصرالله. السرد وطريقة العرض ليسا في روعة نيرودا، وأفضل من ماركيز ونصرالله. لم يكتب مارك توين إلا القليل، مع أنني أظن أنه كان يملك الكثير ليقوله لنا، لكنه اكتفى ببعض الأحداث في حياته، وهي الأكثر تأثيراً ربما، وسأنقل لكم بعضًا من سيرته هنا:

رفض الناشر لكتابه الأول، وبعد أعوام كثيرة التقى به مرة أخرى فقال له الناشر: "في الحقيقة لست بالشخص المهم على الإطلاق، ولكن لدي من المزايا ما أفخر به ويمكنه أن يخلد ذكراي، فقد رفضت كتابك، وبذلك فأنا أستحق جائزة الغباء في القرن التاسع عشر دون منازع".

مارك توين، كان السبب في وفاة ابنه البالغ تسعة عشر شهرًا، فالجو كان باردًا ولم ينتبه إليه وقد كان بجانبه، والغطاء انكشف عن الطفل، فمرض مرضًا شديداً ومات.

توفيت ابنته بمرض السحايا، ثم بعد أعوام توفيت زوجته، وبعدها توفيت ابنته الثانية، وكل هذا حدث أمامه.

في وفاة زوجته كتب مما كتبه: "الساعة تشير إلى الحادية عشر والربع ليلاً، واليوم هو الأحد، الخامس من يونيو 1904. مضت الآن ساعتان على وفاتها. لا أصدق أن ذلك قد حدث. الكلمات لا معنى لها، لكنها صحيحة. لا أدرك فحواها ولا مضمونها، لكني أعلم أنها صحيحة. لقد كانت هي الحياة في نظري وقد رحلت.

ويذكر فيما ذكره قصة طريفة حدثت معه وها هو تلخيصها:
كان بحاجة إلى ثلاثة دولارات قبل حلول الليل، ولا طريقة بيده لكسب المبلغ، وأثناء انهماكه في التفكير، وجد كلبًا قد تركه صاحبه وذهب ليقضي أمراً في الجوار، فاقترب من الكلب ولاعبه فكسب مودّته، ثم جاء أحد بالصدفة يطلب شراء الكلب بالمبلغ الذي يريده، فطلب مارك توين منه 3 دولارات فقط، تعجّب المشتري وقال إن هذا الكلب يستحق 100 دولار، يبدو أنك لا تقدّره حق قدره، فأجابه مارك بأنه تكفيه ال 3 دولارات. وهكذا كان.
ثم رجع صاحب الكلب الحقيقي ولم يجده، فقال له مارك إنه قادر على العودة بالكلب لكنه يحتاج 3 دولارات لإتمام المهمة، فوافق صاحب الكلب فوراً وأعطاه. كان مارك قد لاحق المشتري بعينيه ليعلم أين هو تماماً، ثم لحق به، وطلب استرداد ال��لب مقابل ال 3 دولارات التي أعطاه إياها من قبل، وبعد عدة محاورات يستسلم المشتري ويرجع الكلب لمارك توين ليعود به إلى صاحبه الحقيقي، وينال في النهاية 3 دولارات.
Profile Image for Spiros.
825 reviews24 followers
April 22, 2016
A nice, leisurely stroll through selected incidents in the eventful life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, as told by Mark Twain. He used the freedom of speaking "from beyond the grave" to allow an unrestrained view of people and events that he recalled, but aside from Bret Harte and several of his earliest publishers, he takes a fairly charitable view of the follies and foibles of his fellow men and women. And I'm inclined to think that he might well have invented Captain Haddock, from the Tin Tin comics, in the person of a mate on a riverboat:
"He read, and he read great deal, and diligently, but his whole library consisted of of a single book. It was Lyell's Geology, and he had stuck to it until all its grim and rugged scientific terminology was familiar in his mouth, though he hadn't the least idea what the words meant, and didn't care what they meant. All he wanted out of those great words was the energy they stirred up in his roustabouts. In times of extreme emergency he would let fly a volcanic irruption of the old regular orthodox profanity mixed up and seasoned all through with imposing geological terms, then formally charge his roustabouts with being Old Silurian Invertebrates out of the Incandescent Anisodactylous Post-Pliocene Period, and damn the whole gang in a body to perdition"
Profile Image for Kathryn.
Author 7 books256 followers
August 20, 2010
I ought to have read through this much faster and less thoroughly since I was looking specifically for musical references while researching a Twain-themed library music program, but I couldn't help but read through most of it, especially towards the beginning. Yes, Twain constantly rambles into miscellaneous musings but those musings are often pure gold, skillfully rendered with often gut-splittingly hilarity.

He was an international celebrity at this point who didn't have to write anything except exactly what he wanted to and what seems to have fascinated him most were individuals from his past, both the obscure (such as citizens of Hannibal) and the great (such as Ulysees S. Grant, who Twain admired and Bret Hart, who he despised).

The descriptions of his boyhood held the most appeal for me and he waxes incredibly lyrical when describing scenes and people from this epoch of his life.

Profile Image for Sarah Booth.
392 reviews40 followers
July 31, 2019
I’ve read this book twice. Part of it my friend and I read to one another when we were traveling in France and had to share a bed. We laughed so hard that people wondered what we were up to. Samuel Clemenz (so?) wrote about his life and adventures and how he became Mark Twain which is a pen name taken from his river piloting days. While an extremely funny book in parts, Twain’s life is peppered by tragedy such as the loss of his brother and some of his children, but it is a wonderful read that you’ll want to read again.
Profile Image for Ken.
Author 3 books922 followers
February 22, 2008
Filled with truth and stretchers. I like the stretchers best.
Profile Image for Googoogjoob.
235 reviews2 followers
January 8, 2023
This is the third stab at publishing Twain's/Clemens's memoirs (this is not really an autobiography in a conventional sense), a set of texts with an excruciating publication history. The first attempt, by Albert Paine, published something like 40% of the available material, ordered (as Clemens wished) by date of composition; the second, by Bernard DeVoto, published about half of the remaining material, ordered thematically across several books. This edition, edited by Charles Neider, is organized roughly chronologically, like a typical autobiography would be, but omits material included in Paine's and DeVoto's editions (and the last volume of DeVoto's preparations only came out after this edition, containing material offensive to orthodox sensibilities, which had been held back from earlier publication by Clemens's surviving daughter, Clara). The most recent and complete edition, produced by a team headed by Harriet Smith, comes in three unnecessarily-lavish hardbacks, and its production involved a frankly disgusting dodge to keep the thing in profitable copyright, a century after Twain died, and half a century after his last surviving descendant died.

Why is this the edition I read? Because it's the one I found in a little free library a few blocks away from where I was staying with my girlfriend for the holidays- the volume was a little beat up, but apparently originated at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home in Hannibal.

Neider acts rather superior about his clever move of arranging the material chronologically, but frankly, I don't think it really matters. As I noted above, this isn't a conventional autobio, and Clemens did not set out to write one- Clemens gives radically uneven attention to his subjects, based on his whim; he leaves major gaps in his retelling; he digresses freely and incorporates many anecdotes barely relevant to his life. He is, consciously, a rambling old man waiting to die; his wife and favorite child had already died, his best friend died during the composition, and the sudden death of his remaining cohabiting daughter drove him to write the final chapter and close the work there.

There is almost nothing in here about his methods of composition, or his artistic ideals or goals. He devotes a lot of space to blasting his personal foes, with total freedom, given that he didn't intend any of it to be published until he was long dead (something he takes great evident pleasure in)- primarily his publishing partners, who he felt ripped him off; but also Bret Harte, who he despised with a fury; and the now-obscure novelist Marie Corelli, and Lilian Aldrich, wife of Thomas Bailey Aldrich, who clearly grated on him, and who he felt slighted by. He devotes much space to the character and personality of Susy, his eldest and clearly favorite daughter, and almost nothing at all to his other daughters, Clara and Jean- although Jean's death would hurt him so deeply, and Clara would be the only immediate relative to outlive him. Clemens clearly feels lasting guilt and self-disgust about certain incidents (eg holding himself responsible for the death of his infant son), but unevenly- he also noticeably treads around the entire Ament indemnities debacle, carefully and lightly treats the Nevada duel fiasco, and avoids mentioning the "miscegenation" incident entirely.

Read as the story of Mark Twain's personal and professional life, this is an almost-total failure. Read as the ramblings of a bitter old raconteur, it's very entertaining and readable- even in this chaotic, disorganized state, Clemens is consistently interesting and funny.
111 reviews
July 30, 2018
Mark Twain is an exceptional writer and this autobiography is worth reading. He expounded a bit much on some of the people he describes, thus making it more of a story than a strict autobiography. The loss of his children and wife were sad to learn.
Profile Image for Abdallah Mahmoud.
187 reviews7 followers
November 1, 2021
سيرة ذاتية مفيدة للي سيقراها.... عمتم صباحاً سيد مارك توين (صامويل كليمنس)
Profile Image for Cynthia Keene.
134 reviews1 follower
September 14, 2022
I know that Mark Twain requested that his autobiography not be published for 100 years. He was a great writer, but his autobiography is certa inly lacking…
Profile Image for Karith Amel.
549 reviews22 followers
April 13, 2017
I defy anyone to read this book and not to love this man. He is witty beyond measure, but it is a gentle humor in the end. The humor of a man who lived life sincerely and felt things deeply. A man of deep wisdom and deeper compassion. It is a self-deprecating humor (for his wisdom is the wisdom of Socrates -- the kind that recognizes its own limitations, its own folly). It is the humor of a man who loved life well, and saw in it, always, something of majesty and mystery and delight.

I don't know that I would have wanted to read this book, rather than having listened to it, for it is true that there is little of organization or continuity. But what matters that, when you are having a conversation (rambling, disjointed, marvelous), with such a man?

"Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him." -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Profile Image for John Wiswell.
Author 39 books404 followers
August 19, 2007
Why read anyone else on Mark Twain when you can read his own words? Twain was brutally honest, devoting entire chapters to times of personal loss and failure. He covers one particular night when he bombed at a lecture, showing no particular ego. In another he covers the night his brother died with savage emotional honesty. He explains as many aspects of his own development as he can think of, from growing cold in learning the ways of literature, to growing up on the Mississippi, to his spiritual beliefs, to his extremely critical political beliefs. Most of it is witheringly funny and all of it is worthwhile and insightful, casting out on all possible topics, even ones he wasn't comfortable publishing about in his own day. That's why this book contains chapters only released after his death - some decades after. The best bit is that there are still things he wasn't ready to share, not until a hundred years had gone by. By this manner he gets the last laugh, but by this book you'll know what he's laughing about.
Profile Image for Eric.
Author 42 books25 followers
July 5, 2013
Mark Twain on "the Thing Called an Authors' Reading"
"I think that [Thursday afternoon at Vassar] was the first exploitation of a new and devilish invention—the thing called an Authors’ Reading. This witch’s Sabbath took place in a theatre, and began at two in the afternoon. There were nine readers on the list, and I believe I was the only one who was qualified by experience to go at the matter in a sane way. I knew, by my old acquaintanceship with the multiplication table, that nine times ten are ninety, and that consequently the average of time allowed to each of these readers should be restricted to ten minutes. There would be an introducer, and he wouldn’t understand his business—this disastrous fact could be counted upon as a certainty. The introducer would be ignorant, windy, eloquent, and willing to hear himself talk. With nine introductions to make, added to his own opening speech—well, I could not go on with these harrowing calculations; I foresaw that there was trouble on hand." — Mark Twain, The Autobiography, Volume 1
Profile Image for Lavinia.
747 reviews817 followers
December 22, 2009
Most of it is funny. And it’s frustrating when, compared to Twain, I’m leading an incredibly dull life. Everything that is interesting, funny, outrageous, supernatural & all seems to happen to him. And oh, the envy on his wittiness!
In some parts, it’s touchy. Not only the episodes about his mother and brother (characters in his books – Sid and Aunt Polly, for those who remember), but especially the memories about his wife and daughters. Susy’s biography, written when she was about 14 (have no idea if it ever got to be published) is at the same time, funny, objective and delicate.
In some smaller parts it’s boring – consider the episodes about his troubles with business partners, copyrights a.s.o. But then again, family comes into sight, with focus on his wife, Olivia, an extremely determined woman, who always found a way to get out of financial problems.
Profile Image for Tori.
1,110 reviews81 followers
November 13, 2014
I read a selection of chapters actually published (in periodical form) during his life, which was quite heavy on the excerpts from his daughter's biography of him. A conceit that made for this humorist's story, full of satirical and joking anecdotes as it was, surprisingly heartfelt and full of little meditations on mortality (not just his daughter's death at twenty-four, but quite a few other references to friends lost). While still teeming with Twain's trademark wit, of course. It was sweet.

One star off for not rising above prejudices of the time (or at least implicitly accepting racial and gender status quos). And for the unabashed egotism--not of the giant autobiography itself, though I'd never have the gall to write such a vast, unedited thing, but of the overbearing and self-important character he admits to in his descriptions of himself.
Profile Image for Patricia.
Author 38 books15 followers
November 29, 2008
Brilliantly and hilariously mean, for the most part. A rather disconnected collection of memories, anecdotes, and rants, set aside to be published posthumously. Twain spends several chapters each excoriating a former business partner of his and the writer Bret Hart. Of the widow of a poet friend, he says, "A strange and vanity-devoured, detestable woman! I do not believe I could ever learn to like her except on a raft at sea with no other provisions in sight." Most enjoyable. He also talks about his religious skepticism and other subjects that he did not feel free to publish during his life. Nicely cynical and yet also sometimes quite moving on the subject of his family and good friends and their loss.
55 reviews1 follower
October 30, 2015
An extraordinary life and book. This book was dictated in the final years of his life, and I felt like I was sitting in front of Mark Twain and hearing him tell me his story as a friend would. I laughed and got choked up multiple times as I read about his triumphs, misadventures, and losses. It was very interesting to see how many famous stories of his were directly taken from his own life or the lives of those he knew. The structure is unlike any other autobiography I've read, as it follows a generally chronological timeline, but deviates from this course at will and occasionally breaks up the narrative with excerpts from letters and diaries. A fascinating book for any fan of Twain or American history.
Profile Image for Mike.
511 reviews131 followers
October 12, 2009
I read a biography of Mr. Twain because I was curious about the man. In it I learned that he published the "Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant", which I then read. And, just to see how he himself wrote it, I then read this, his autobiography.

Are all the facts there? Are facts shoved around and bent for his nefarious purposes? Who cares! This is another great read from one of America's best writers of any century. A master of imagery and tale-telling, Clemens makes his life a pleasant read for all.
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