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Friday, October 29, 2010

Mark Twain’s Autobiography: A Bestseller?

USA Today reports that the recently published first volume of Mark Twain’s uncut autobiography has entered the paper’s bestseller list at no. 30, just 13 places below teen pop star Justin Bieber’s First Steps 2 Forever ( "Book Buzz: Mark Twain Gets the Last Say in 'Autobiography,'"Oct. 27, 2010).

Four years before his death in 1910, Twain dictated his 500,000-word autobiography to a stenographer, but demanded that the full text, which included passionate rants against U.S. imperialism and Wall Street, not be published until 100 years after his death.

According to an article last summer in The New York Times ("Dead for a Century, He Said What He Meant," July 10, 2010), versions of Twain’s autobiography were published in 1924, 1940 and 1959, but his original editor cut out entire sections which he thought might be offensive and respected the wishes of Twain’s daughter, Clara who wanted to protect Twain’s image. She died in 1962.

For more on this complex American icon, check out the new Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 or try these other books:

Mark Twain: Man in White: The Grand Adventure of His Final Years
by Michael Shelden

Mark Twain: A Life by Ron Powers

The Singular Mark Twain: A Biography by Fred Kaplan

Inventing Mark Twain: The Lives of Samuel Langhorne Clemens
by Andrew Jay Hoffman

Image Courtesy U.S. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

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