New Mark Twain Autobiography

by Luke Muehlhauser on August 1, 2010 in Bible

Mark Twain wrote a tell-all autobiography that he requested not be published for 100 years after his death so that he could speak freely.

Twain died in 1910.

Coming this November, here’s an excerpt from The Autobiography of Mark Twain:

About once a year some pious public library banishes Huck Finn from its children’s department, and on the same plea always—that Huck, the neglected and untaught son of a town drunkard, is given to lying, when in difficulty and hard pressed, and is therefore a bad example for young people, and a damager of their morals.

Two or three years ago I was near by when one of these banishments was decreed and advertised, and I went over and asked the librarian about it, and he said yes, Huck was banished for lying. I asked,

“Is there nothing else against him?”

“No, I think not.”

“Do you banish all books that are likely to defile young morals, or do you stop with Huck?”

“We do not discriminate; we banish all that are hurtful to young morals.”

I picked up a book, and said—

“I see several copies of this book lying around. Are the young forbidden to read it?”

“The Bible? Of course not.”

“Why not?”

“That is a strange question to ask.”

“Very well, then I withdraw it. Are you acquainted with the passages in Huck which are held to be objectionable?”

He said he was; and at my request he took pen and paper and proceeded to write them down for me. Meantime I stepped to a desk and wrote down some extracts from the Bible. I showed them to him and said I would take it as a favor if he would attach his extracts to mine and post them on the wall, so that the people could examine them and see which of the two sets they would prefer to have their young boys and girls read.

He replied coldly that he was willing to post the extracts which he had made, but not those which I had made.

“Why?”

He replied—still coldly—that he did not wish to discuss the matter. I asked if he had some boys and girls in his family, and he said he had. I asked—

“Do you ever read to them these extracts which I have made?”

“Of course not!”

“You don’t need to. They read them to themselves, clandestinely. All Protestant children of both sexes do it, and have been doing it for several centuries. You did it yourself when you were a boy. Isn’t it so?”

He hesitated, then said no. I said—

“You have lied, and you know it. I think you have been reading Huck Finn, yourself, and damaging your morals.”

Hat tip to Skeptic Money.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Hermes August 1, 2010 at 6:00 pm

The book of the year — each time one of the three are released. Expect it to be the book of the year next year too, when the final volume is released.

For those who want to get a taste of the book, the 1906-1907 release is available in text and audio format;

Text: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/19987

Audio: http://librivox.org/chapters-from-my-authobiography-by-mark-twain

Many good stories, all as true as Twain cared to remember them.

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Liam August 1, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Correct me if i’m wrong but i’m flicking through amazon and it appears there are already autobiographies of Twain that have bee available for years? Are these the same ones?

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Hermes August 1, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Liam, parts of his autobiography — like the 1906-1907 one I linked to — were released. Not the whole thing. This is the first time the public will see everything.

Hopefully the editors didn’t clean up Twain’s final version, as he had a new format that he thought would be useful for other writers and he was demonstrating it with his intended full autobiography (one that I want to read, and the format is one I suspect was partially shown in Roughing It).

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Liam August 2, 2010 at 12:33 am

Cheers, Hermes, for clearing that one up.

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nate August 2, 2010 at 3:39 pm

mark twain is a badass.

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Hermes August 2, 2010 at 3:52 pm

He was a better liar than a dualist. (see 1906-1907 autobiography)

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Phil Ferguson August 2, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Thanks for the repost.

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JS Allen August 3, 2010 at 9:26 am

Great story about Huck Finn and the Bible. A friend asked me today if I found the movie “Antichrist” to be disturbing, and I could honestly say that it wasn’t disturbing, since I’ve read the Bible several times. The Bible has far more graphic and disturbing stuff in it.

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Hermes August 3, 2010 at 11:13 am

If the 1906-7 edition is a representative (but toned down) sample of the full autobiography, it should be excellent.

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