While The Autobiography of Mark Twain provides a generally accurate description of Twain’s life, Neider warns that everything in the book might not be entirely true. Twain admitted that drawing upon a lifetime of recollections resulted in some inaccuracies or incomplete passages. For example, he writes “never mind the rest of it” in chapter 20, “I don’t believe these details are right but I don’t care a rap” in chapter 34, and “I think I am wrong” in chapter 44. These admissions, however, do not constitute major inaccuracies or lessen the literary value of this work.
Although Twain intended his autobiography for adult audiences, the book has appealed to young readers for many years. Also, the book complements Twain’s other works for children, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). Twain’s writings about family and friends, his humorous stories, his descriptions of firsthand experiences with famous people, and his witticisms about life will continue to capture the interest of young readers. Twain’s autobiography also appeals to educators because it addresses the writing profession and portrays the United States as a developing nation. The interesting content, the easy reading level, and the short chapters contribute to young readers’ enjoyment of Twain’s autobiography.
Many readers also appreciate Twain’s honesty about his feelings and personal shortcomings. Examples include the death of Langdon (his twenty-two-month-old son for whose death Twain felt responsible), his bankruptcies, his bitter dislike of some individuals, and his poor judgment in negotiating book contracts and in...
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