“Mark Twain stripped bare” ….read the header on a review of Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I, published in the Globe and Mail on November 13, 2010. And what a review! The book sounds delish! I may have to buy this one for a Christmas gift for my husband, a Twain fan in the first place, so I can borrow it to read next! I love the whole idea of writing a book with no holds barred and then having it held back from publication for 100 years, as per Twain’s command.
Of equal interest is the great care taken by the editor, Harriet Elinor Smith, her associate editors and the general editor, Robert H. Hirst, to publish the exact book Twain wrote, in the exact way he wanted it published: uncut and unexpurgated. (Raw and raging Twain, from the sounds of it.) This is noted with palpable gratitude and excitement by the reviewer, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, an expert on Twain herself, who further notes that Twain’s work has not always received such respectful care. Other editors have merrily tweaked or deleted passages of his writings, finding some bits “uninteresting,” and other bits apparently at risk of “tarnishing” his reputation.
Fishkin lists the adjectives Twain uses to describe Helen Kelller’s writing – “simple, direct, unadorned, unaffected, unpretensious… moving, beautiful and eloquent” – and says in her opinion, they describe Twain’s writing. She can’t wait for Volumes II and III.
News bulletin: there is not a single copy of Autobiography of Mark Twain in any bookstore in Halifax! I just phoned Chapters Bookstore and was informed that I could not even order the book, as another print run was currently being organized by the publisher, University of California Press. I am out of luck for now!