This …. Harriet Elinor Smith is an editor at the Mark Twain Project, which is housed within the Mark Twain Papers, the world's largest archive of primary materials by this major American writer. Under the direction of General Editor Robert H. Hirst, the Project's editors are producing the first comprehensive edition of all of Mark Twain's writings. A lively series of interviews introducing viewers to the work that went on behind the scenes in the production of the Autobiography of Mark Twain.
Books Digital Products Journals. About the Book "I've struck it! From Our Blog. About the Author Harriet Elinor Smith is an editor at the Mark Twain Project, which is housed within the Mark Twain Papers, the world's largest archive of primary materials by this major American writer. At other times, reading it feels like eavesdropping on a conversation he is having with himself. And Twain will begin to seem strange again, alluring and still astonishing, but less sure-footed, and at times both puzzled and puzzling in ways that still resonate with us, though not the ways we might expect.
Mark Twain is terrific company, plain and simple. He knew everyone, went everywhere, seemed to be interested in everything and is capable of making the reader — in — laugh on nearly every page. And this is not, strictly speaking, an autobiography. This is a book for dipping, not plunging. Read, as Twain might put it, until interest pales, and then jump. It feels like a form of time travel. His crystalline humor and expansive range are a continuous source of delight and awe.
Pull up a chair and revel. The bard of Hannibal still has much to say. To read this volume is to be introduced to Twain as if, thrillingly, for the first time. Laced with Twain's unique blend of humor and vitriol, the haphazard narrative is engrossing, hugely funny, and deeply revealing of its author's mind. Twain's memoirs are a pointillist masterpiece from which his vision of America--half paradise, half swindle--emerges with indelible force.
We will have to mark time until there is more, but the wait is bound to be worthwhile. When Twain came up with the idea for an autobiography, it solely for the purpose of augmenting earlier works so that his family could continue to live off the royalties at the time a book was only under copyright for 42 years from the date published. The rambling style of these memoirs is what makes it appealing to me because you feel like a dinner guest at the Twain house. They fall on dif When Twain came up with the idea for an autobiography, it solely for the purpose of augmenting earlier works so that his family could continue to live off the royalties at the time a book was only under copyright for 42 years from the date published.
They fall on different subjects both historical and contemporary events and details from his own life in no particular order. It's hard to imagine that these were dictated off-the-cuff and not revised later because the arguments presented seem very well thought out. There are several long and hilarious screeds against religion, U. I'm guessing these were the subjects intended to be kept from the public for years. Twain's only surviving daughter Clara, who lived until , had the most to lose if this stuff got out because it probably would have done harm to his literary reputation at a time when wholesome Hollywood movies were being made and his image was that of a kindly raconteur and children's author.
Although the footnotes tell us he was mistaken about a few things, he is scathing about people like his publisher and business partner Charles Webster and Bret Harte, who it turns out DID send money to his family in New Jersey from England, even though he abandoned them preferring to live as a "kept" man.
Today, Harte would probably be diagnosed with "Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It even seems that the 19th century had it's own Kim Kardashian in Olive Logan; a woman who did nothing and whose only talent was getting her name in gossip columns. Logan's total obscurity today gives hope to those who believe we live in the dumbest century to date. Maybe nothing has changed. Feb 10, Bob Schnell rated it it was amazing Shelves: life-stories , humor-satire , read-in I could read the rantings of Samuel Clemens all day.
This was a little confusing to me since I thought I was reading Vol.
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It just seemed that way at first since he re-visits some of the topics from Vol. Once I was convinced I had the right book, I settled in for the ride. To recap, Samuel Clemens Mark Twain dictated his autobiography in the last years of his life with the understanding that it would not be published I could read the rantings of Samuel Clemens all day. To recap, Samuel Clemens Mark Twain dictated his autobiography in the last years of his life with the understanding that it would not be published until years after his death.
He wanted to speak freely and not worry about any repercussions. He does speak freely on many topics from family business to religion to politics and mankind's faults and frailties. We get to hear about the big news stories of the day that have mostly been forgotten, just as he predicted. In fact, he predicts many things that have come to pass or are in the process of happening.
If he only he could see our current mass communication networks, social media, reality TV and news cycles. I would love to hear his views on Facebook and Donald Trump. Then again, I was glad to not carry the hardcover version on my daily commute. Either way, I am eagerly looking forward to Vol. Depending upon whether the reader has or has not read The Autobiography of Mark Twain--the official work of the Twain Project at University of California--or not, this volume might be one star, or it might be 5 stars.
There is no doubt as to the quality of Twain's prose, but heaven save all of us from battling academics that can't decide whether to list his dictations and writings in the order written, or in the chronological order in which they occurred. The Twain Project spent tremendous resou Depending upon whether the reader has or has not read The Autobiography of Mark Twain--the official work of the Twain Project at University of California--or not, this volume might be one star, or it might be 5 stars.
The Twain Project spent tremendous resources and had many faithful scholars participating, and their word should have been final, yet apparently wasn't. So if the reader has read Volume 1, which takes us well into , this volume is a complete waste of money. Fortunately, the big box store that now owns our fair site sold it to me for a buck, and that was store credit, so I learned this hard lesson free rather than for the thirty bucks I might have sunk into it. This, to me, is its sole redeeming feature.
However, now that I am satisfied that I will not have missed too much of importance, I can proceed to Volume 3, for which the Twain Project at UC has permitted me to access the galley. Jan 18, Lance Carney rated it really liked it. I read Volume 1 extremely fast; I struggled to get through Volume 2. It was no doubt my fault, and Samuel L. Apr 19, Laurie rated it it was amazing. Listening to Mark Twain's autobiography is like having a sassy dead friend who likes to dish the dirt with a wicked sense of humor. Jul 14, Hank Pharis rated it did not like it. Again primarily a collection of ancedotes for hard core fans of Mr.
Especially interesting and sad and sometimes still confusing were his explanations of his belief system. As he says he did not want to publicly say these things during his career so he held them back for years. Some examples: "Man is not to blame for what he is. He has no control over himself. All the control is vested in his temperament—which he did not create—and in the circumstances which hedg Again primarily a collection of ancedotes for hard core fans of Mr.
All the control is vested in his temperament—which he did not create—and in the circumstances which hedge him round, from the cradle to the grave, and which he did not devise and cannot change by any act of his will, for the reason that he has no will. He is as purely a piece of automatic mechanism as is a watch, and can no more dictate or influence his actions than can the watch.
He is a subject for pity, not blame—and not contempt. God ingeniously contrived man in such a way that he could not escape obedience to the laws of his passions, his appetites, and his various unpleasant and undesirable qualities. God has so contrived him that all his goings out and comings in are beset by traps which he cannot possibly avoid, and which compel him to commit what are called sins—and then God punishes him for doing these very things which from the beginning of time He had always intended that he should do.
Man is a machine, and God made it—without invitation from any one. No one would think of such a thing as trying to put the responsibility upon the machine itself. We know it perfectly well.
Book review: ‘Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2.’
In our secret hearts we have no hesitation in proclaiming as an unthinking fool anybody who thinks he believes that he is by any possibility capable of committing a sin against God—or who thinks he thinks he is under obligations to God and owes Him thanks, reverence, and worship. People, according to Twain, are incapable of developing their own ideas. Their feelings about morality are ideas that they are taught and trained. It is in his human environment which influences his mind and his feelings, furnishes him his ideals, and sets him on his road and keeps him on it.
According to Twain, man has no dignities, grandeurs, or sublimities. He is no better than a rat. He is a machine. He acts on habit and instinct, like a cow who heads toward food. Even a man who rushes into a fire to save a woman does not do so because of free will because people do not have free will. But Twain had a hard time living consistently with what he said he believed. For example, he viewed adultery as virtually inevitable given human nature.
And yet when a man was sleeping with one of his servants he gave him to options: Go to jail or get married! The man did not want to marry her but since Twain had a policeman and a clergyman there when he gave the options he finally agreed to marry her. Jul 28, Chrissie marked it as to-read Shelves: audible-uk , bio , history , series , usa , long. This is really a compilation of the multiple autobiographies he started at various times throughout his life. I listened to volume 1, and found some chronology applied to the writings.
Here, the stories jumped back and forth in time, making it hard to picture exactly when Twain was talking about. It was quite confusing throughout the book. This includes long passages that have little place in an autobiography. For example, there is a large section, really unrelated to anything else, about testing different palm readers. But in the pieces, you can find the Twain that people loved. He repeats a rather lousy joke three times if I recall about Horace Greeley on a stagecoach.
In this book, Twain talks about his idea that repeating a bad joke repeatedly would get people to laugh, and he related how twice he did this in front of a live audience — same awful joke as in the book. This was an excellent retelling of Twain re-using his material over the years. He could go along boring the reader on purpose for paragraphs at a time to get in a line that just killed. None of his restricted material matters much now, mostly complaining about business. I liked this more on reflection than I did when I read it. Dec 30, Neil rated it it was amazing. And so THE publishing event of the century continues When volume one came out in , years after Twain's death there was something of a media storm and the book topped the best-seller lists around the world, however the book seemed to bemuse more people than it delighted, I don't believe this volume has sold nearly as well, it ain't a conventional autobiography, then again Twain wasn't a conventional man.
Put it simply if you didn't like volume one, if you found it too disjointed and ra And so THE publishing event of the century continues Put it simply if you didn't like volume one, if you found it too disjointed and rambling, if you found the text too small, if you found the book too big, if you found the notes dull and unhelpful, you won't enjoy this book either. IF HOWEVER you loved the earlier book, loved the fact it was pure Twain: disjointed and rambling, had no problem with the small font size or large book size, found the notes interesting and helpful, then you'll be utterly delighted to find this is more of the same, I think it goes without saying I fall into the latter camp, this book is just wonderful and I wait with eagerness and sadness for volume three hopefully by the end of for that will be the last volume, the end of what is presumably the last major unpublished work of Mark Twain.
The book consists of passages that Twain dictated between April and February , around a quarter of which had never been published anywhere before, of the rest the vast majority had only been published partially, sometimes no more than a paragraph. At it's simplest level the book is "Mark Twain's thoughts for the day" he talks about whatever he feels like sometimes conventionally autobiographically, more often not.
He attacks various figures including his publisher Charles L. Webster and fellow author Bret Harte, admittedly often unfairly, you don't want to get on the wrong side of Twain, he sure knew how to insult! He talks about the news of the day, copyright, friends and enemies, religion, cats In Charles Neider managed to turn some of this material into a conventional autobiography and as such it's a valuable book but this is what Twain intended a thoroughly unconventional autobiography.
Things I found interesting are that this book is dictated. Twain says he didn't 'write' this book. It reads like a journal, that's for sure. Twain was a speaker, as much as a writer, in his time. It was out of necessity, though, as publishers wrote contracts that gave them the money for his writing, more than probably was warranted. I suppose publishers provide the costly stuff of books: paper, ink machines to print, advertising, however it was interesting to learn that of Twain's most recognize Things I found interesting are that this book is dictated.
I suppose publishers provide the costly stuff of books: paper, ink machines to print, advertising, however it was interesting to learn that of Twain's most recognized work, he didn't make much money on one of them. The other he made more, but nominally. He made a lot of his money when he became a publisher, himself. It was interesting hearing how he published General Grant's memoirs, making sure his heirs got a great portion of the money made from the book.
Grand died soon after finishing his book. Twain's desire was that his autobiography be published well after his death, but mostly because he wanted to write with total honesty about people and wanted them to not be besmirched in their lifetime. Several times, he states the book is to be published after the people he mentions in the book are dead.
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It was interesting to hear him talk Audiobook of testifying to Congress about extending the copyrights from 42 years to the authors life plus fifty years. He notes that of approx. Twain spends more time than I cared to hear, talking about palm readers and phrenologists, refuting their findings. I skipped some of that. A very endearing story is the one he tells of his daughter, when young, was with him on a steamboat trip and he was on an outer deck listening to the depth readings -- from which you'll probably know, Samuel Clemens took his pen name. His daughter frantically found him and said, Daddy, don't you hear them calling for you?
This volume, the second, is long, but worth the time to read, or in my case, hear. Over the past three months I've listened to both volumes of the Autobiography of Mark Twain. They are nothing short of phenomenal.
Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Complete and Authoritative Edition
Twain decreed his autobiography would not be published for one hundred years after his death. This gave him the freedom to talk about anything he chose, about anyone he chose. Those affected including children and grand children would be dead before publication of the autobioography. This is not a birth to death autobiography. Twain dictated whatever came into his min Over the past three months I've listened to both volumes of the Autobiography of Mark Twain.
Twain dictated whatever came into his mind each day, and by doing so you become totally acquainted with the man in a way that would have been impossible in a conventional biography. He talks a great deal about his wife and children and you get to know them in a special way. He talks about relatives, well known historical figures, his life and times and of course politics and religion.
All utterly fascinating. The reader of both volumes, Grover Gardner, has won numerous awards for his reading, and while listening you cannot help but believe that you are listening to Mark Twain himself. I cannot praise the quality of these recordings enough. At twenty CD's for volume one and twenty one for volume two it would appear to be a daunting task to complete both volumes.
Not so. I am yearning for volume three now, hopefully to be published in the coming year. In the meantime I will be listening to these first two volumes again. Nov 21, Marks54 rated it liked it. This book is the second volume of the authoritative edition of the autobiography of Mark Twain.
I read the first volume two and a half years ago. This volume follows in the same path of the first volume and is full of various stories, humor, social satire, and commentary. There is much enjoyable here and the book is most interesting as a commentary on American and world affairs in the decade before WWI. This volume has the limitations of the first volume. It is a collection of episodes and comme This book is the second volume of the authoritative edition of the autobiography of Mark Twain. It is a collection of episodes and comments -- more like a journal or diary than what I commonly think of as an autobiography.
I certainly defer to Mr. Twain about his disinclinatioln to produce a traditional life story. I also grant that such a story would not be fully honest and unbiased. Still, a bit more organization and story would have been valuable and the need for editing and pruning is clear -- although the stories are good even when reissued and reiterated.
Overall, the book was enjoyable and well worth the effort. His use of language is wonderful and his satirical and critical eye is unfailing. Not bad for a second volume. May 13, Jay Daze rated it it was ok Shelves: library-book , audio-book , non-fiction , biography-and-autobiography , abandoned. I didn't make it through this. Started with the disadvantage of not having read volume one, but my experience with volume two doesn't make me want to pick it up.
Twains decision to dictate his biography by what occured to him at the time makes for a pretty disjointed and meandering book. Some parts, his thoughts on suicide, his 'enthusiasm' for talking to college girls was great, discourses on politics of the time or the sausage making view of publishing seemed to go on and on and on. Even the s I didn't make it through this. Even the stuff I wasn't interested in was written well, Twain is unsurprisingly a great writer, but for myself the lack of structure killed my will to continue with the book.
If you are a Twain completist with a knowledge of his life this book will probably work for you. I listened to this on digital library loan - renewed it twice and still never got through it. I'll go back to Twain's complete books but would only try a heavily edited, ordered and introduced version of this work. View 1 comment. Jan 02, Randy Auxier rated it really liked it Shelves: general-non-fiction , humor. This review appeared in the Carbondale Nightlife, September , , p. Mark Twain, Autobiography of Mark Twain, vols. Mark Twain set down his pen for good in , but his autobiography was composed mainly afterwards.
From the fall of through the end of he dictated almost daily to an able stenographer and in the presence of his official biog This review appeared in the Carbondale Nightlife, September , , p. From the fall of through the end of he dictated almost daily to an able stenographer and in the presence of his official biographer the mass of literary material that now goes under the name of Autobiography of Mark Twain.
After , the sessions trailed off, but continued through early He toyed with his original idea for the book from onward and refined his notions about the art of autobiography over that very long span of years. The material is now brought together, unexpurgated and edited according to the highest critical standards, in three volumes. Thus, there is very little in the critical edition that has not appeared before indeed long before now. No shocking revelations are here. The second volume appeared in and the third will follow later this year, or so we are told.
Twain believed that telling the truth in an autobiography was impossible unless publication is delayed for several generations, but he complains that even this strategy will fail if the teller of the tale is human at all. Explaining his theories about autobiography probably absorbs a hundred pages of the first volume, in fits and starts. He has to tell us why he meanders so, dictating whatever pops into his head instead of trying to follow some chronological plan or other preconceived order of presentation. Some of the same episodes come up repeatedly, spread out over the whole length of these books, as Twain interrupts himself for many pages at a time.
Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2 by Mark Twain (ebook)
At least he eventually returns to whatever subject he opens. The method of autobiography Twain advocates makes it impossible to follow the overall narrative. Even the repetition is interesting, since it reveals a remarkable consistency in how Twain settles into a way of describing an episode and holds onto it in more or less the same words over several decades.
The autobiography is thus a hodgepodge. Twain reads entire letters and newspaper clippings into the record, he inserts previously unpublished stories and other manuscripts into the master document, then adds his retrospective commentary. The most frequently recurring external document he used is the biography of himself written by his daughter Suzie when she was about He will offer a passage from that adorable study, comment on it at length, and then return to another passage to repeat this exercise in rumination.
But for that reason, these stories humanize Twain as Sam Clemens for the ages. Clemens never got over the loss, but evidently Twain carried on. Still, this is where we see the man behind the curtain. If there is literary or historical calculation in the way these episodes are presented, as there certainly is in the dominant tone of the autobiography, it is too subtle for me to grasp. There are extended passages in the autobiography that are no longer of great interest to us now, being dated and distinguished only by the fact that Twain noticed them and put them into his own remarkable words.
His obsession with copyright laws is a recurring example, leading one to wonder what he might say now about that struggle.
But for the most part, Twain was able to predict what we would care to know in years. This makes for great reading and the apparent disorganization and rambling masks an underlying principle of aesthetic order that is as pleasing as it is informative. The effect is similar to being told a bedtime story every night for a year that forms one long story-telling campaign. And the storyteller, after all, is known to be a pretty good one. Very little in the history of literature in any language rises to this level of importance. Mark Twain teaches us how to see ourselves by looking at himself and trying to work out the difference between him and the rest of the human race.
Clemens was, in almost every respect, just like the rest of us, except for his diligence in a single direction. He took his gift to places few humans have visited and found himself unlike the rest of us, alone and incapable of self-understanding —for want of meaningful comparison. So he trusted his mind and his muse to meander exactly where they needed to be on any given day, to complete the uncompletable story. Jun 13, Christopher rated it really liked it. The second volume of Twain's dictated autobiography is an enjoyable, meandering, journey with a great, amusing, irascible old man just riffing on whatever is on his mind.
In other words, it's not an autobiography in any identifiable sense of the word.
The nature of how Twain "wrote" this autobiography is both a blessing an a curse. He only talks about what interests him and stops when it ceases to hold his attention. This results in Twain spending a great deal of time speaking about otherwise fai The second volume of Twain's dictated autobiography is an enjoyable, meandering, journey with a great, amusing, irascible old man just riffing on whatever is on his mind.
This results in Twain spending a great deal of time speaking about otherwise fairly trivial contemporary news items various trials, mini-scandals, accidents, and personalities of the day that particularly irk him--King Leopold II of Belgium is a frequent target due to his actions in the Congo. Twain recounts multiple attempts to convince the Congress and anybody who will listen that copyright should be extended indefinitely primarily for the benefit of his children.
It's easy to see the rationale and reason for the passion, but because there's so much space dedicated to the topic, it begins to wear on the reader. But because this is Mark Twain, there are multiple laugh out loud character sketches and asides and one is generally willing to forgive the somewhat "pointless" nature of this work in exchange for it.
But an autobiography it ain't. Nov 16, Jdb rated it it was amazing.