The year 2010 marks several milestones in the life of Mark Twain. November 30, 2010 is the 175th anniversary of his birth. This year also is the 125th anniversary of the publication of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), a book considered by many to be the most important novel in American literature. (Read what some local literary experts recently said about Mark Twain here.)
And this year marks the 100th anniversary of his death on April 27, 1910. When he died, Mark Twain left behind a mountainous autobiography that has only now been published. The author stipulated that his recollections on life could not be printed until 100 years after his death, so that anyone he might offend would be long dead, as would their children.
To the delight and surprise of booksellers everywhere, the four-pound, 500,000 word autobiography is “flying off the shelves,” according to a Nov. 19 story in the New York Times.
The modest 7,500 print run is now up to 300,000. Sales are being driven by scholars and ardent collectors, but also generations of readers whose affection for this most American of authors began when they were introduced to Huckleberry Finn. At last we can know a little better the heart and mind of a fascinating man.