Over 100 years after his death, Mark Twain hits no. 1 on the best-seller list

He died on April 21, 1910. And now Mark Twain’s final book, The Autobiography of Mark Twain –kept under wraps in the University of California archives, as promised, for a full century–has hit the No. 1 spot on Amazon thanks to brisk preorders. The memoir, which is only the first of three volumes, does not go on sale until November 15.

I’m pretty tickled to see Twain’s book at No. 1, where it’s edging out the new Rick Riordan novel and the latest entry in the Wimpy Kid series. And I can’t wait to read it (though I’m probably going to take my time and make it through the 1000-page installment just in time for book two.) How about you? Is Twain’s memoir something you’re interested in reading?

Comments (72 total) Add your comment
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  • kate

    he died in 1910, not 2010, EW

    • Nerwen Aldarion

      Shows what you know! Mark Twain was a supporter of abolition and the Emancipation Proclamation. Maybe that’s why The Adventures Huckleberry Finn is about Huck Finn realizing Jim is not a slave and decides to go against white society and help him escape?

      Try reading and researching before pointing fingers

    • Sadie

      You’re an uninformed idiot, LD.

    • Nerwen and Sadie, you just gave that troll exactly what he wanted. That “Larry David” ****stirrer posts crap like that on just about every board on this site, seeing how riled up he get people – like you.

    • Nerwen Aldarion

      LD can post whatever he wants, I just wanted to make sure people didn’t actually think Mark Twain was a racist when he was actually an abolitionist

    • Casey

      Don’t worry Nerwen, I’m pretty sure most people understand that poster Larry David is a moron. The truth is the opposite of what he says almost 100% of the time if not always.

    • Tim

      Obvious troll is obvious Larry David.

    • Are you for Real?

      Seriously, Mark Twain was the opposite of what you are proposing. In a time when slavery was commonplace, Twain wrote to defend slaves and their rights to be set free.

    • Another Larry

      Nerwen Aldarion…Now we’ll be seeing LD claiming that MT was an abortionist, after your comment. He clearly has no understanding of the written word.
      Tim has said it all.

    • Nice try

      Look at my thumb…gee, you’re dumb.

    • aelfheld

      Projecting, Mr. David?

    • Mindy

      LOL, yeah Mark Twain was a racist and a supporter of slavery. In Opposite World. Sheesh, what are our schools teaching anyways?

    • melanie

      he wasn’t racist or a bigot, hun, nor did he own slaves. Maybe you are thinking of someone else.

    • Jan

      Journalists. You meant to say journalists. You made a mistake. You often do.

  • Lynn

    By April 21, 2010 I’m sure you mean April 21, 1910?

  • Ari

    I didn’t know Mark Twain died in 2010!?!

  • California

    lmao he was one crazy old mofo!! hahahahahahahahahaahahaha omg you suck EW, my God.

  • Leslie

    I didn’t even know this was happening, so thanks for the post, but PLEASE can someone do a slightly better job proofreading the articles before posting them?

  • Zach

    I didn’t realize 100 years passed since last April!

  • NobodyYouKnow

    I’d rather not.

  • Wow

    Wow EW, proofreading is something most journalists learn pretty early.

  • Amy

    Hey EW, I’m in need of a job and you’re clearly in need of a proofreader so hopefully we can work something out.

    Moving on from the snark, as a literature and history nerd it was great hear that there is such a positive reaction to Twain’s forthcoming memoirs.

  • Prunella Von Schleidlhaagen

    And still, they haven’t fixed it.

  • johnnykagewins

    love mark twain. the mysterious stranger is one of the best stories ever. I didnt know about the autobiography, but i am interested in reading it and will certainly get it now that i know about it. …unless EW wants to do me a solid and hook me up with a free copy for commenting on the question asked, and not the date like almost everyone else did! LOL! …but really, hook me up.

    Speaking of free, wouldnt the copyright have expired by now, just like the rest of Twain’s works?

    • Lisa Simpson

      In this case, I believe that the copyright would belong to the University of California, but I don’t know the details.

    • Lloyd Jassin

      A publishing attorney by the above name weighed in on this issue a few months ago:

      “Twain’s unpublished manuscripts remained in copyright until, at least, December 31, 2002. However, to the extent Twain’s literary trustees published any of his memoirs before 2003, under a special provision of the Copyright Act, those copyrights remain in effect until December 31, 2047. Interestingly, Twain was a vocal advocate of perpetual copyright. When he died in 1910, his unpublished memoirs enjoyed perpetual copyright under the old (1909)Copyright Act. So, from a copyright perspective, he must have been as happy as a clam when he passed, but a morose mollusk when the Copyright Act was amended n 1976. In short, the new (1976)Copyright Act put an end to Twain’s post-mortem ability to absolutely control the release of his memoirs. Under the 1976 Act, unpublished works created before 1978 were protected, at least, until December 31, 2002, and until 2047, if published on or before December 31, 2002. So, Harper, arguably, would control exclusive publication rights to those writings through 2047.”

      • johnnykagewins

        …Do what now?

        So basically, the EARLIEST this would be available to read via Project Gutenberg is 2047? Even longer if Lisa Simpson is right, and it’s held by UCal?

      • Uhh…

        Actually, no. It’s being published, just as Twain wanted, 100 years posthumously. When a copyright expires, the material enters the public domain and anyone may copy or publish it. It isn’t mentioned in this article, but the majority of Twain’s autobiographical writing has already been released in bits and pieces over many years. t\This is just the first time it’s ever been assembled in one place. And any time a completed written work is substantively changed – chapters added or removed, artwork or photography updated, pieces repurposed for anthologies, etc. – new copyright attaches.

        Twain had extreme animosity toward publishers and copyright laws in general. He didn’t think his work should ever “expire” into public domain, and he plotted and planned for the eventual posthumous publication of his works to skirt the laws as best he could. My guess is that the university’s intellectual property rights over the papers bequeathed to them is getting ready to expire. If they recompile, publish and sell it as an anthology, voila – new copyright attaches.

    • melanie

      hasn’t actually ever been published until now.

  • Ziggy

    Yes! I will savor my way through the two volumes. He was an incredible, ahead-of-his-time satirist. I love his writing!

    • Mindy

      You mean THREE volumes. Not two. Even better, right?! The editors say the three volumes combined will have up to 50% previously unpublished material. I am very excited.

  • Jake

    Jesus tapdancin’ christ, you’d think each one of you precious, holier-than-thou scribes had never made a simple typographical error before. Such perfection must be a heavy load to bear, indeed (emphasis on “load”, but I digress). Word processing programs these days are set to date-generate automatically, and they default to the current year. It was not willfully or carelessly mistyped – it was simply overlooked. I think we can all recover from this and move on now.

    • melanie

      totally agree with you. I can’t believe half the comments are on simple, and understandable, typo.

    • anonymous

      It’s the internet. Typo-hunters are the second largest subgroup of users on it, ahead of trashy tabloid addicts but behind those looking for adult content.

    • Tess

      Your comment is made of win

  • erin

    Why was it kept hidden for 100 years?

    • just me

      Twain didn’t want it published until 100 years after he died.

    • Mindy

      Twain thought some of his opinions were too…. incendiary to be published right away. He wanted to wait until 100 years after he died, in a time when he thought no one would care about any of that.

  • l.i.u.

    your all fucn stupid

    • Casey

      Says the person that says “your” when it should be “you’re” lol.

    • melanie

      i think you’re wrong, l.i.u, hehe @casey, you are right.

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