Although Mark Twain wanted his autobiographical writings and dictations to become a published book and a culminating text in his legacy, the definitive Autobiography of Mark Twain has attracted only cautious attention as yet, because it presents interconnected texts and compels negotiation of complex personal and historical circumstance. These texts include (1) autobiographical discourses beginning in 1904, along with Mark Twain's earlier forays into life-writing; (2) editorial annotations and notes for all these discourses; (3) a detailed history of these efforts; and (4) an account of how and why these documents have been recovered, established, and sequenced. Conjoined here, these texts constitute an important experiment in American life-writing, as well as a challenge to scholarly engagement with this kind of narrative and its implications.

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