Autobiography Published as It Should Be

Article excerpt

WHEN he was bad, Mark Twain was worse than a mediocre writer, but when he was good, he was one of the greatest American writers who ever lived.

In the autobiography he is not always good, but he is good more times than not, and the book itself is a curiously grand literary accomplishment.

Thank God it is now published the way it was meant to be.

"Finally," Mark Twain writes in his autobiography, ain Florence in 1904, I hit upon the right way to do an autobiography, start it at no particular time in your life; wander at your free will all over your life; talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment; drop it the moment its interest threatens to pale, and turn your talk upon the new and more interesting thing that has intruded itself into your mind meantime."

Twain had been trying to write his autobiography since 1876, the year he published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, his fictionalised autobiographical children's book inspired by and dedicated to the American bad boy, certainly a more rough-hewn, satirical, memorable yet flawed book than his good friend Thomas Bailey Aldrich's The Story of a Bad Boy from 1870. …

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