Monday, May 24, 2010

Mark Twain To Reveal All After 100 Year Wait

One of Mark Twain's dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published one hundred years after his death. Twain, the pen name of Samuel Clemens, left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century, but in November, the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain's three-volume autobiography. Scholars are divided as to why Twain wanted his autobiography kept under wraps for so long, with some believing it was because he wanted to talk freely about issues such as religion and politics. Michael Shelden, who this year published Man in White, an account of Twain's final years, says that some of his privately held views could have hurt his public image. 'He had doubts about God, and in the autobiography, he questions the imperial mission of the US in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines,' says Shelden. 'He's also critical of [Theodore] Roosevelt, and takes the view that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. Twain also disliked sending Christian missionaries to Africa. He said they had enough business to be getting on with at home: with lynching going on in the South, he thought they should try to convert the heathens down there.'

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