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Mark Twain, A Biography

by Albert Bigelow Paine

Certain happenings as recorded in this work will be found to differ materially from the same incidents and episodes as set down in the writings of Mr. Clemens himself. Mark Twain's spirit was built of the very fabric of truth, so far as moral intent was concerned, but in his earlier autobiographical writings--and most of his earlier writings were autobiographical--he made no real pretense to accuracy of time, place, or circumstance--seeking, as he said, "only to tell a good story"--while in later years an ever-vivid imagination and a capricious memory made history difficult, even when, as in his so-called "Autobiography," his effort was in the direction of fact."When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not," he once said, quaintly, "but I am getting old, and soon I shall remember only the latter."The reader may be assured, where discrepancies occur, that the writer of this memoir has obtained his data from direct and positive sources: letters, diaries, accountbooks, or other immediate memoranda; also from the concurring testimony of eye-witnesses, supported by a unity of circumstance and conditions, and not from hearsay or vagrant printed items.

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