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Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3

The Complete and Authoritative Edition

Mark Twain (Author), Harriet E. Smith (Editor), Benjamin Griffin (Editor), Victor Fischer (Editor), Michael Barry Frank (Editor), Amanda Gagel (Editor), Sharon K. Goetz (Editor), Leslie Diane Myrick (Editor), Christopher M. Ohge (Editor) & 4 more

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 792 pages
ISBN: 9780520279940
October 2015
$45.00, £37.95
Other Formats Available:
The surprising final chapter of a great American life.

When the first volume of Mark Twain’s uncensored Autobiography was published in 2010, it was hailed as an essential addition to the shelf of his works and a crucial document for our understanding of the great humorist’s life and times. This third and final volume crowns and completes his life’s work. Like its companion volumes, it chronicles Twain's inner and outer life through a series of daily dictations that go wherever his fancy leads.

Created from March 1907 to December 1909, these dictations present Mark Twain at the end of his life: receiving an honorary degree from Oxford University; railing against Theodore Roosevelt; founding numerous clubs; incredulous at an exhibition of the Holy Grail; credulous about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays; relaxing in Bermuda; observing (and investing in) new technologies. The Autobiography’s “Closing Words” movingly commemorate his daughter Jean, who died on Christmas Eve 1909. Also included in this volume is the previously unpublished “Ashcroft-Lyon Manuscript,” Mark Twain’s caustic indictment of his “putrescent pair” of secretaries and the havoc that erupted in his house during their residency.

Fitfully published in fragments at intervals throughout the twentieth century, Autobiography of Mark Twain has now been critically reconstructed and made available as it was intended to be read. Fully annotated by the editors of the Mark Twain Project, the complete Autobiography emerges as a landmark publication in American literature.


Editors: Benjamin Griffin and Harriet Elinor Smith
Associate Editors: Victor Fischer, Michael B. Frank, Amanda Gagel, Sharon K. Goetz, Leslie Diane Myrick, Christopher M. Ohge
Benjamin Griffin and Harriet Elinor Smith are editors 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.
"Covering just the last couple of years in Twain's long life, this is the concluding volume of the masterful University of California edition of his autobiography: unexpurgated, cross-referenced, and richly annotated. . . . The swan song reinforces things well established by its predecessors." - STARRED REVIEW—Kirkus
"Sharp and witty here as he is in his fiction. . . . Closes the book on the remarkable life of one of America's most outstanding literary talents."—Publishers Weekly
"The abundant morsels here give us a glimpse into the big human heart of our great American author."—Buffalo News
"His deep love for the language, for expression, for telling what is on his mind and in his heart, keeps him talking to us, right up to the very end of the autobiography, when the death of his daughter Jean leads him to close it forever."—Hartford Courant
"Rambling; charming; vitriolic; confessional (“I am fond of pomp and display”); shot through with wit, lyricism and regret. . . . Captivating and invaluable."—The Washington Post
"Rambling, cantankerous, funny—and sad."—The Christian Science Monitor
"The editors of the three volumes that make up Autobiography of Mark Twain deserve the heartfelt gratitude of scholars everywhere for producing an autobiography that checked the facts and presented Mark Twain's chaotic life story with unprecedented clarity."—Mark Twain Forum
"Chock-full of his trademark outbursts and his sly sense of humor."—The Boston Globe
"[Twain] lives on through his works, including this landmark publication."—San Francisco Chronicle
"There was a private Sam Clemens and a public Mark Twain, and both of them can be found in Autobiography of Mark Twain."—National Post
"The verdict: admirable, opulent, incredibly thorough, surely a treasure trove beyond price for Twain scholars, endlessly pleasant to paw through for those of us who find Twain hilarious and moving and blunt and inimitable."—Christian Century
Praise for Volumes 1 and 2

“A garrulous outpouring—and every word beguiles.”—Wall Street Journal

“It feels like a form of time travel. One moment you’re on horseback in the Hawaiian islands—or recovering from saddle boils with a cigar in your mouth—and the next moment you’re meeting the Viennese maid he called, in a private joke, ‘Wuthering Heights.’”—New York Times

"Contains more of Twain’s ranging, astute, and unfailingly candid portrayals of his private and public lives. Excoriations of politicians appear next to affectionate family stories and bemused observations on the absurdities of life, helping to fill out our understanding of America’s greatest humorist."—The New Yorker

“I start reading Twain’s Autobiography at any page and don’t want to stop, for the sheer voluptuous pleasure of the prose.”—Roger Ebert

"Twain is incapable of going more than a few paragraphs without making you laugh or think hard. . . . Don't loan this book out: you'll never see it again."—Bloomberg Pursuits

"Brings us closer to all of him than we have ever come before.”—New York Review of Books

“Twain generously provides the twenty-first-century aficionado a marvelous read. His crystalline humor and expansive range are a continuous source of delight and awe. . . . [He] has given us ‘an astonishment’ in his autobiography with his final, beautifully unorganized genius and intemperate thoughts. Pull up a chair and revel.”—Los Angeles Times

“What we have here amounts to the contents of Mark Twain’s attic: all the stuff that didn’t fit in the living quarters and that the man tossed upstairs, where for a century it gathered dust, cobwebs, and rumors.”—Michael Lewis, The New Republic

“For our grasp of Mark Twain—for our belief, ever since he burst on the scene in 1865, that we know him through his prose—the book is a gift and a treasure.“—The American Spectator

“The merit of the autobiography is its revelation of every facet of Samuel Clemens—how modern a figure he is, and how topical his concerns. Take the polemical verve of Christopher Hitchens. Toss in the fun-poking news instincts of the American broadcaster Jon Stewart. Add the traveler's curiosity and gentle wit of a Bill Bryson, plus the raw energy of Ernest Hemingway, and then stir in an entire Oxford dictionary of aphorisms, and you start to get an approximation of a man who spanned virtually every literary genre—and in the process became one of the most quoted (and misquoted) writers to walk the earth.”—The Independent

"One sees a mind bubbling and hears a uniquely American voice."—Literary Review

"Twain traveled extensively and befriended many luminaries, and his colorful experiences give the book the same Dickensian scope as the first volume and present a vivid picture of America in the nineteenth century and Twain’s indelible mark on it."—Publishers Weekly

"In case you had any doubt about it, the new book demonstrates that Twain dictated as well as he wrote."—The Washington Post

"Volume 2 is another masterpiece of scholarship."—Mark Twain Forum

"If you surrender yourself to the sound of his voice, the pleasure of Twain’s company proves pretty hard to resist."—The New Yorker

"The great American author, aided by his scholarly editors, continues to spin out a great yarn covering his long life. . . . Twain admirers will find this volume indispensable and will eagerly await the third volume."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"This is vintage Twain—timeless, and still germane."—BookPage

"Set aside all ideas of starting at the beginning and reading through to the end. This is a book to keep on your bedside table, or in the kitchen, or the garage, or anyplace else you might want to pick it up. Follow Clemens' own advice in reading it, as he did in writing it: Start reading at no particular point; wander at your free will all over it; read only about the thing that interests you for the moment; drop it the moment its interest threatens to pale; and turn your eye upon the new and more interesting thing that has intruded itself into your gaze meantime. Believe me, there are plenty of these in this wonderful volume."—The Hartford Courant
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