Mark Twain's Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review
Author: Mark Twain, Michael J. Kiskis, Sheila Leary
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Release Date: February 25, 2010
Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography stands as the last of Twain’s great yarns. Here he tells his story in his own way, freely expressing his joys and sorrows, his affections and hatreds, his rages and reverence—ending, as always, tongue-in-cheek: “Now, then, that is the tale. Some of it is true.”
More than the story of a literary career, this memoir is anchored in the writer’s relation to his family—what they meant to him as a husband, father, and artist. It also brims with many of Twain’s best comic anecdotes about his rambunctious boyhood in Hannibal, his misadventures in the Nevada territory, his notorious Whittier birthday speech, his travels abroad, and more.
Twain published twenty-five “Chapters from My Autobiography” in the North American Review in 1906 and 1907. “I intend that this autobiography . . . shall be read and admired a good many centuries because of its form and method—form and method whereby the past and the present are constantly brought face to face, resulting in contrasts which newly fire up the interest all along, like contact of flint with steel.”
For this second edition, Michael Kiskis’s introduction references a wealth of critical work done on Twain since 1990. He also adds a discussion of literary domesticity, locating the autobiography within the history of Twain’s literary work and within Twain’s own understanding and experience of domestic concerns.