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Twain Still a Crowd Pleaser a Century After Death

mark_twainMark Twain has still got it. One hundred years after his death, the author has achieved a spot on the bestsellers list with the recently released Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 (University of California Press, 760pgs), the first in a series of three volumes. At the age of 74, just four short years before he passed away, Twain used his oratory and storytelling skills to dictate the majority of the 500,000-word autobiography to his personal secretary Isabel Van Kleek Lyon and several stenographers. According to an article in USA TODAY, “Twain ordered that the full, unexpurgated text, marked by rants against Wall Street and U.S. foreign policy, not be published until 100 years after his death.”

“There may be a market for that kind of wares a century from now. There is no hurry. Wait and see,” quipped Twain at the time.

The release of Volume 1 this month coincides with Twain’s 175th birthday on November 30 and earns him the unique distinction of being the only known author to publish a new book a century after his passing. The brisk sales and the critical acclaim the autobiography has already achieved are proof that the work was worth waiting for. In a review for the Los Angeles Times, Laura Skandera Trombley writes: “In the Autobiography, Twain generously provides the 21st century aficionado a marvelous read. His crystalline humor and expansive range are a continuous source of delight and awe…This was his version of reality, and what an entertaining record it is. Twain has given us ‘an astonishment’ in his autobiography with his final, beautifully unorganized genius and intemperate thoughts. Pull up a chair and revel.”

Volumes 2 and 3 are scheduled to be released over the next five years.

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