Mark Twain rambles (delightfully) through his own life and opinions.
Mark Twain and his never-ending autobiography are back.
Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2 was published this month, following on the heels of Volume 1, which became an immediate bestseller when published in 2010. (Twain required that this work be kept private until 100 years after his death. It will be capped by a third volume.)
But don’t look for the trappings of a traditional autobiography anywhere in this mammoth book. It consists of unvarnished dictations that Twain produced from April 1906 through February 1907, seasoned here and there with news articles that caught Twain’s fancy, letters, and scraps of literature from various sources, including a biography of him written by his daughter Susy when she was a teenager.
The dates of the dictation are the only aspect of the text that are chronological. Twain, who was 71 years old in 1906 (he died four years later), meanders hither and yon with no apologies. His topmost goal is to entertain himself. He knows that what he says will not appear in print until long after his death, so he has few if any societal inhibitions. Literarily, he is a dead man talking.
Twain had been working on his autobiography in fits and starts for a quarter of a century with little success. But by this point he has grown tired of writing and admits there are a handful of books lurking in him that will never see the light of day. That is as sad as almost anything else in this book.