Jun 092011

Mark Twain made a number of attempts at his autobiography. He didn’t like the constraint of telling his life story in chronological order; he didn’t like the fact that a man cannot really tell his life story without holding back, without lying in part. So, after a number of false starts, he eventually settled on a method he liked – dictating it, and, withholding its publication until one hundred years after his death.

He dictated over a number of years, but no one adhered to the hundred year restriction. Pieces and versions of Mark Twain’s autobiography have appeared throughout the years. This latest version has the merit of being complete, unabridged and inclusive of all of the material Twain wanted as part of his autobiography.

But much of it has been previously published. Even Twain didn’t adhere to the hundred year restriction. In 1906 he published an excerpt, Chapters from My Autobiography. We’ve included a small portion of that here.

Twain’s recollections raise so many interesting questions, particularly when considering the pages of theĀ Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

  • The character Jim has been criticized as a collection of stereotypes, lacking any depth. Does knowing that he is modeled after a real man change that?
  • Twain speaks with great affection about his uncle and praises his character; yet, he owned twenty slaves. How can Mark Twain, or anyone, reconcile these facts? Is this, at least in part, what Huck Finn is about?
  • Why would Twain’s mother participate in the institution of slavery when she could clearly see the evil in it?
Produced by: Pat Howe
Edited by: Pat Howe
The following sounds and music were used in the audio recording of Chapters From My Autobiography:
Theme by Jason Phelan
Dandelion.mp3 by TexasMusic Forge at The Free Sound Project
Of Dark Rooms and Crooked Candles by Josh Woodward
Yankee Doodle Variations by Carrie Rehkopf, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.
Funk a Duck by Robert Palomo
Gospel (TRADITIONAL)-BRIGHTER by hammerklavier at The Free Sound Project
Acoustic Meditation2 by Jason Shaw

  One Response to “Chapters From My Autobiography – An Audio Extra”

  1. […] Mark Twain’s description of the friendships between slaves and their owners in this excerpt from Twain’s autobiography with Deshler’s account here. The descriptions are similar, but Twain adds an interesting […]

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