Autobiography Debuts this fall, a century after the master writer's death
Hartford Courant Editorial
September 14, 2010
Legions of Mark Twain fans are in for a special treat this fall when the first of three volumes of his autobiography are published, 100 years after his death.
Pieces of the autobiography have appeared in books and magazines over the years, but the acerbic master specified that the full text could not be published for a century. Some speculate that he did not want to needlessly offend people with his caustic commentary.
Nevertheless, juicy tidbits have leaked out. Mr. Twain ridiculed U.S. ventures abroad and referred to American troops in the Philippines as "our uniformed assassins." And this startling admission: "In my schoolboy days, I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware there was anything wrong about it."
In a bitter assessment of humans under the title "The Character of Man," Mr. Twain found "proof that of all the creatures that were made he is the most detestable. … Of the entire brood he is the only one — the solitary one — that possesses malice. … That one thing puts him below the rats, the grubs, the trichinae."
Publication of the juicy autobiography by the University of California Press holds special significance for Hartford because Mark Twain resided for two productive decades of his life in the now-famous Farmington Avenue house that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mark Twain House and Museum will cap a year of special activities by taking part in a daylong symposium Nov. 13 at St. Joseph College in West Hartford to celebrate the 175-year anniversary of Mr. Twain's birth. Appropriately, one of the speakers will be Robert Hirst, the chief editor of Twain's autobiography.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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