A century after his passing, Mark Twain is on the bestseller lists. Volume One (of three) of his Autobiography — a production of the Bancroft Library’s Mark Twain Project and Papers published by UC Press— is currently the bestselling book on both Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. Although parts of the autobiography have been published previously, the complete text has not been available until now.
The 100-year delay was deliberate. Twain feared that his candor would offend readers and might bring harm to his heirs. Even now, it’s easy to see why; in the memoirs, Twain is not only frank about such topics such as sex and religion, but even goes as far as calling American soldiers in the Philippines “assassins in uniform.” Not exactly supporting the troops, is he?
Last year, California magaazine was privileged to run two previously unpublished excerpts from the Autobiography as part of the Humor Issue. You can find them here.