The Autobiography was carefully promoted as Twain's "final and right plan"
and as his uncensored biography, dictated as a stream of consciousness.
New York reviewers speak only for themselves. A reading of Tim Adams in the
British Guardian (Sunday November 21st) shows a better and clearer
understanding, by a newspaper reviewer, of the autobiography. "Like the
river that became his greatest subject, there would have to be meanderings
and digressive tributaries, sudden floods of drama and discarded ox-bows of
comic observation". Congratulations to all the editors, especially Robert
Hirst, for publishing the book exactly as Mark Twain wanted.
From: Mark Twain Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Barbara
Sent: Monday, December 20, 2010 11:44 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Garrison Keillor on the autobiography
I think both of the New York reviewers were intimidated by the scholarly
apparatus which is one of the most valuable things I found in the book. I
think both would have been happy with something akin to the Paine version of
the autobiography. That is not what this edition is about. It is about
finding the keys to the inner workings of a creative mind -- and how that
mind was constantly revealing itself (and in some cases trying to conceal
itself) with little dabs of painted narrative that add up to a whole
picture. The two reviewers call the book a "Royal Nonesuch" because they are
not able to comprehend the larger picture and they think they have been
hornswaggled by publicity. I'd be surprised if either reviewer spent time
reading the annotations. I am reminded of the closing lines of Mark Twain's
"A Fable" and the moral by the cat, "You can find in a text whatever you
bring, if you will stand between it and the mirror of your imagination. You
may not see your ears, but they will be there."