Twain’s Longest Dictation


In the New Yorker, Ben Tarnoff reviews Volume II of the Autobiography of Mark Twain.

Notorious for his ability to talk a blue streak, Twain dictated the entire three-volume tome of over 5000 typewritten pages while lying in bed awaiting, it would seem, his own demise.

In his autobiography, the rambling flow that has always infused his work liberates itself of any pretense of plot or structure and achieves its purest form. It doesn’t always make for riveting reading, but it shows us what made Twain a revolutionary writer.

Dawn Pier is a developmental editor who blogs at the Rumpus, the travelogue, and Dawn Revealed, a personal blog about her adventures surfing and living in Baja. She is working on a memoir about moving to Mexico to learn to surf and save a coral reef. More from this author →