Coda: “Speaking from the Grave”

Richard S. Lowry

in ‘Littery Man’

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780195102123
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855087 | DOI:

Series: Commonwealth Center Studies in American Culture

Coda: “Speaking from the Grave”

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  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


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Twain puts in Life on the Mississippi (1883) that writers are “manacled servants of the public.” During the last decade of his life, the intention in making his autobiography was to escape the manacles of his reading audience. In other words, this last work was his final attempt to put down his pen and stop writing. The result was to give its maker complete freedom in composition. Mark Twain wanted to preserve this freedom and guarantee that this was true by allowing his autobiography to be published after his death. He then starts his autobiography addressing the reader that they should keep in mind that he is “speaking from the grave.” He ends his final installment with his account of the Whittier Birthday banquet.

Keywords: Mississippi; Whittier; autobiography; freedom; composition

Chapter.  1512 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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