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The Innocents Abroad

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The Innocents Abroad is one of the most prominent and influential travel books ever written about Europe and the Holy Land.


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The Innocents Abroad is one of the most prominent and influential travel books ever written about Europe and the Holy Land.

30 review for The Innocents Abroad

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    When I lived in Madrid years ago I used to buy pistachios from an Iranian refugee in Retiro Park. I don't recall his name, but I decided to call him Stan. It drove him crazy, but I called him Stan anyway. Why did I call him Stan? One word: Ferguson. Ferguson is every tour guide that graces the pages of Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad. The author and his cohort call their guides Ferguson, whether in Paris or in Athens. The name drives each Ferguson crazy, but they do it anyway. And regardless of When I lived in Madrid years ago I used to buy pistachios from an Iranian refugee in Retiro Park. I don't recall his name, but I decided to call him Stan. It drove him crazy, but I called him Stan anyway. Why did I call him Stan? One word: Ferguson. Ferguson is every tour guide that graces the pages of Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad. The author and his cohort call their guides Ferguson, whether in Paris or in Athens. The name drives each Ferguson crazy, but they do it anyway. And regardless of the site, or museum, their attitude before the remains of some long-ago Renaissance man is the same: "Is . . . is he dead?" This also drives the Fergusons crazy. Is this admirable? No, but it epitomizes the experience of Americans abroad. It is brash, showing at once disdain for and secret envy of the old world, its people, and its institutions. This is the book that instilled in me a wanderlust that still afflicts me, even though I have rarely been able to satisfy it. I wanted to travel the world and call my guides Ferguson. I still do.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I love certain travel books, ones that give you an inspiring window on places you’ve never been or want to revisit while holding a humbling mirror up to the perspective and culture of the traveler. “Innocents Abroad” is a classic that fulfills this goal nicely and a fun read to boot. In 1867, the nearly unknown journalist Mark Twain set out at age 32 on a chartered ship from New York with a group of Americans for a three-month tour around the Mediterranean with major overland side-trips. His I love certain travel books, ones that give you an inspiring window on places you’ve never been or want to revisit while holding a humbling mirror up to the perspective and culture of the traveler. “Innocents Abroad” is a classic that fulfills this goal nicely and a fun read to boot. In 1867, the nearly unknown journalist Mark Twain set out at age 32 on a chartered ship from New York with a group of Americans for a three-month tour around the Mediterranean with major overland side-trips. His itinerary overlapped some of my own school trip many years ago to educational sites Italy, Greece, and Turkey. But it also included forays into France, Russia, North Africa, and the Middle East, capped by a facinating inland trip by horse and camel from Damascus to Jerusalem. Here is a map of his journey: I appreciate the combination of self-deprecation, wonder, slapstick humor and cynicism represented in Twain’s writing. The following quotes capture his nobler sentiments: The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become, until he goes abroad. I speak now, of course, in the supposition that the gentle reader has not been abroad, and therefore is not already a consummate ass. --- Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime. --- Human nature appears to be just the same, all over the world. For his sense of wonder, here are a few examples of his eloquence from experience of people in the streets of Constantinople, of the ruins of the Appian way, and of the ancient Sphinx in Egypt: People were thicker than bees, in those narrow streets, and the men were dressed in all the outrageous, outlandish, idolatrous, extravagant, thunder-and-lightning costumes that ever a tailor with the delirium tremens and seven devils could conceive of. --- Gray lizards, those heirs of ruin, of sepulchres and desolation, glided in and out among the rocks or lay still and sunned themselves. Where prosperity has reigned, and fallen; where glory has flamed, and gone out; where beauty has dwelt, and passed away; where gladness was, and sorrow is; where the pomp of life has been, and silence and death brood in its high places, there this reptile makes his home, and mocks at human vanity. His coat is the color of ashes: and ashes are the symbol of hopes that have perished, of aspirations that came to nought, of loves that are buried. If he could speak, he would say, Build temples: I will lord it in their ruins; build palaces: I will inhabit them; erect empires: I will inherit them; bury your beautiful: I will watch the worms at their work; and you, who stand here and moralize over me: I will crawl over your corpse at the last. --- I gave it up and walked down to the Sphynx. After years of waiting, it was before me at last. The great face was so sad, so earnest, so longing, so patient. There was a dignity not of earth in its mien, and in its countenance a benignity such as never any thing human wore. It was stone, but it seemed sentient. If ever image of stone thought, it was thinking. It was looking toward the verge of the landscape, yet looking at nothing—nothing but distance and vacancy. It was looking over and beyond every thing of the present, and far into the past. It was gazing out over the ocean of Time—over lines of century-waves which, further and further receding, closed nearer and nearer together, and blended at last into one unbroken tide, away toward the horizon of remote antiquity. Humor is tucked into every page, providing comic relief without dominating the story. Galloping pell-mell on donkeys through the streets of a town in the Azores is one example that stands out for me. The humor often barbs both ways, as in this example In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language. Another vein of humor comes from playing practical jokes on the tourist guides, which in every country they call “Ferguson” to save on mastering a foreign name. In one case, after getting tired of too much hype over Michelangelo’s creations, the travelers keep pestering their guide with questions about his responsibility of ancient structures like the Roman Forum. For a similar deflation of their guide’s pressures to revere Columbus, here is a joke they played on him: He took us to the municipal palace. After much impressive fumbling of keys and opening of locks, the stained and aged document was spread before us. The guide’s eyes sparkled. He danced about us and tapped the parchment with his finger: “What I tell you, genteelmen! Is it not so? See! handwriting Christopher Colombo!--write it himself!” We looked indifferent--unconcerned. The doctor examined the document very deliberately, during a painful pause.--Then he said, without any show of interest: “Ah--Ferguson--what--what did you say was the name of the party who wrote this?” “Christopher Colombo! ze great Christopher Colombo!” Another deliberate examination. “Ah--did he write it himself; or--or how?” “He write it himself!--Christopher Colombo! He’s own hand-writing, write by himself!” Then the doctor laid the document down and said: “Why, I have seen boys in America only fourteen years old that could write better than that." On the negative side, personal cultural bias comes out in many places. References abound to the dirtiness of the people in many countries, hygiene issues such as mustache hair on the women, and the rapaciousness of the beggars. The great efforts to find soap at hotels throughout the journey is funny at times, but overdone. I sympathize with Twain over his cynicism over the obsessive collection and promotion of holy relics by Catholic churches. There are just too many nails he was crucified with on display and too many bones of saints honored in shrines to foster meaningful spirituality. Aristocratic excess is a perennial target for American sensibility, and so is the contrast between religious pomp of prelates and the poverty of the people. While his meeting with the Russian Czar in Yalta made Twain recognize his ordinary humanity, just thinking about the Muslim Caliph in Constantinople with hundreds of wives makes him see hypocrisy in the whole religious enterprise. Here is his anti-Catholic rant on Italy As far as I can see, Italy, for fifteen hundred years, has turned all her energies, all her finances, and all her industry to the building up of a vast array of wonderful church edifices, and starving half her citizens to accomplish it. She is today one vast museum of magnificence and misery. All the churches in an ordinary American city put together could hardly buy the jeweled frippery in one of her hundred cathedrals. And for every beggar in America, Italy can show a hundred - and rags and vermin to match. It is the wretchedest, princeliest land on earth. … O, sons of classic Italy, is the spirit of enterprise, of self-reliance, of noble endeavor, utterly dead within ye? Curse your indolent worthlessness, why don't you rob your church? Despite this apparent cynicism, it was fascinating to experience Twain’s underlying reverence with respect to the sites of the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, you can feel his underlying judgment of commercial hype over supposed sites where Mary supposedly stood or stayed, where Christ rested a moment as he bore his cross toward Calvary, etc. But at many other points his awe comes through over sites that remind him how an ordinary fisherman from Nazareth who sailed the Galilee with his brothers came to change the world through his spiritual vision. In process of this read, I came to appreciate the evolution of Twain’s own sensibilities and the story-telling skills that would shape the landscape of American literature.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    This novel is part stand-up comedy and part history lesson. Throughout the novel Twain is hysterically funny, irreverent, lampooning, and blatantly racist--a classic American traveling abroad. This travel log touches upon almost every tourist spot in Europe, North Africa, and the Holy Land. Twain covers many of the most important sites in Europe in a thorough manner. The text would become tedious if not for the wit and clever turning of phrases throughout the work. The humor does have quite an This novel is part stand-up comedy and part history lesson. Throughout the novel Twain is hysterically funny, irreverent, lampooning, and blatantly racist--a classic American traveling abroad. This travel log touches upon almost every tourist spot in Europe, North Africa, and the Holy Land. Twain covers many of the most important sites in Europe in a thorough manner. The text would become tedious if not for the wit and clever turning of phrases throughout the work. The humor does have quite an edge. The racism and bigotry showed by the author in this piece does not kill the story, in my estimation, it only makes Twain a man of his time. Mark Twain walks up to the top inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa, visits Florence and the Vatican, sees holy sites throughout current day Israel and Jordan, and even visits the Sphinx and the pyramids. In many ways, Twain remains unchanged by his journey. He feels that the clergy at every church are trying to rip him off with fake relics; of course, often he is right. The prejudices that he carried with him do not change. He refers to Muslims as "pagans" and "savages," equating them with his low view of the Native Americans (p.406). He and his companions refused to use the names of their guides, instead refer to one and all as "Ferguson." "Of course the real name of the place is El something of other, but the boys still refuse to recognize the Arab names or try to pronounce them" (p.299). There are some great scenes in this novel. Twain at the grave of Adam in the Holy Land, from Adam and Eve fame, is fantastic. Twain breaks down sobbing over visiting the grave of a long lost 'relative' this far from home. Adam is a relation six thousand years down the family tree, in the author's estimation, but still a kinsman. Another wonderful image is of Twain and his companions riding through the desert on battered, broken horses with purple parasols to keep the sun off of them. Good quotes: p.311 "I could not conceive of a small country having so large a history." p.424 "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness, and many of our people needed it sorely on these accounts."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    This armchair travel guide is based on an actual journey made by Twain in 1867. He was only thirty-two. It first came out in the New York Herald, peu à peu as he sent in his journal entries. Only later in 1869 was it published as a book. The excursion route can be seen here: http://twain.lib.virginia.edu/innocen... By clicking on the map you are linked to the text in the book referring to the particular location. In this way you can check out Twain's writing. So what makes this a classic, and why This armchair travel guide is based on an actual journey made by Twain in 1867. He was only thirty-two. It first came out in the New York Herald, peu à peu as he sent in his journal entries. Only later in 1869 was it published as a book. The excursion route can be seen here: http://twain.lib.virginia.edu/innocen... By clicking on the map you are linked to the text in the book referring to the particular location. In this way you can check out Twain's writing. So what makes this a classic, and why is it so highly praised? For its humor and Twain’s delightful knack at expressing himself. He has a way with words. He is opinionated, which is quite fun; he dares to say what he thinks. Some of his views are dated and quite simply not politically correct. One does have to keep in mind that the book was published a century and a half ago. On the other hand, many cultural tendencies do not change. You recognize these and smile at the kernels of truth that lie in Twain’s observations, observations made long, long ago and yet still valid. Not all, but some. The book has historical content. There are tons of little tidbits that are interesting. According to him, Damascus is said to be the oldest city in the world, and some think even the Garden of Eden. Twain was at the second world’s fair, The International Exposition of 1867 held in Paris. He tells of us his experiences first hand. He and some others took another side tour to Odessa on the Black Sea and there met with the Russian Czar and Czarina, Nicholas and Alexandra, in their summer palace in the Crimea. He visited the Leaning Tour of Pisa. He tells us that it feels as though, if you go to the edge, you weight will topple it over. He and three friends sneak out of the ship moored outside the port Piraeus; against imposed quarantine regulations they go into Athens, see the Acropolis by moonlight, steal grapes, are chased and finally return to the ship by dawn. Such escapades transform interesting factual details into personal tales. Twain is perceived as a friend telling you of what he saw and experienced. He is relaxed; he speaks from the heart. Twain wonderfully captures the essence of many, many places. What makes Paris Paris and Constantinople Constantinople? Versailles, Milan, Venice, Rome, Pompeii. Don’t forget to look at the map above! The humor is intellectual. It is for those of us who have traveled and have themselves thought about cultural peculiarities. Twain pokes fun. Sometimes at himself and sometimes at others. His travelling companions cannot be bothered to learn the names of their guides so they call them all Fergusson! This they can pronounce. Yet this also shows their ridiculous sense of self-importance. In France, none of the French understand what they say, but it never occurs to them that this is due to their own inability to speak the language properly. Such is the humor. Humor circling around culture. There are pokes at the Catholic Church and the grandiose claims made in the travel guides of his time. I had planned on giving the book four stars. I enjoyed it all the way through until the excursion arrived in the Middle East. Here I began to have serious trouble. Twain's prejudicial view of Arabs is disturbing, at least for those of us with a modern sensibility. From this point on his deprecatory views reverberate in all that he relates. In the latter third of the book his negative views become a rant. The humor became sour and repetitive. His distaste for Arab nations and people prevented him from appreciating what these lands could have offered him. His attitude just wrecks the fun. What began as a pleasure excursion of curiosity, exploration and discovery ends as a "funeral excursion without a corpse". These are his own words, found at the book’s conclusion. I feel they appropriately capture the book’s end. I must clarify that despite numerous tribulations no one died on the trip. The audiobook is wonderfully narrated by Grover Gardner. Easy to follow and spoken at a perfect speed. The Americans speaking French are totally hysterical. This adds to the humor. The narration is just how it should be, and so have given it five stars. This book is interesting and very funny. Unfortunately, that ends when Twain arrives in the Middle East!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bryce Wilson

    God you've got to love Twain. A funny sacred cow roasting romp through Europe and The Middle East, taking on stereotypes, high society, and decorum with a shotgun blast to the face. However, this is young amused by humanities flaws Mark Twain, not embittered "Fuck the World." Mark Twain. So there's still plenty of room for real wonder and occasional awe. Plus it has the best reaction to a Mummy you will ever see.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    10 percent humorous versus 90 percent tedium. And that may even be a generous assessment. The humor is actually laugh-out-loud humor - and I rarely LOL while reading - but the tedium... oh, the tedium! It became more and more of a trudge. I may yet give this another try, as I really do *want* to read more Twain, but not in the foreseeable future.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Phillip Ozdemir

    When you read Twain you realize he is head and shoulders above other authors, even really good authors. How do you measure the level of his genius? I don't know. Physicists used to rate the genius level of other physicists on a scale of 1- 10, and then along came Dick Feynman whom everyone agreed was "off-scale". Twain's ability as a writer might just be "off-scale", too. I have seen estimates of Goethe's and Shakespeare's IQs which are at the top end of all humanity's and I'm quite sure Mark When you read Twain you realize he is head and shoulders above other authors, even really good authors. How do you measure the level of his genius? I don't know. Physicists used to rate the genius level of other physicists on a scale of 1- 10, and then along came Dick Feynman whom everyone agreed was "off-scale". Twain's ability as a writer might just be "off-scale", too. I have seen estimates of Goethe's and Shakespeare's IQs which are at the top end of all humanity's and I'm quite sure Mark Twain is at least their equal, intellectually. Thank god for Mark Twain, accessible to the common man, and more fun than a barrel of monkeys. The term LOL (which means "Laugh Out Loud") takes on a whole new meaning when you read Twain. I remember the last time I laughed out loud like this was when I was commuting back and forth to work from the Upper West Side to Midtown on the IRT. As you know, Manhattan subways are pretty sober places and the cold fluorescent light and the bitter taste/smell of the lingering asbestos brake particles in the air and the other vaguely metallic and pungent smells of the underground train lair lends a sort of uber-reality to the scene (as do the grim faces of the people on the train contending as they are with the harsh business of survival in one of the roughest cities in the world) I was reading Roughing It!, one of Twain's other works, on those hard, cold grey seats on the sides of the train with people on either side of me and across from me and I would burst out laughing every page or so and people would look at me as if there was something wrong with me and I would say, "I'm sorry, this is really funny." And I would hold out the book for them to see and then they would go back to staring out into the space in front of themselves rather than looking at me like I had broken some sort of Law of the Subway. And then I would go back to reading and laughing out loud because Twain is so very, very wry. It's too bad you can't bottle what Twain has to say, because if you could, you'd be drunker than a 100 Indians dancing in a cornfield on the first sip. It's really priceless.

  8. 5 out of 5

    RJ

    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." Twain's first published book is an account of a several weeks long ocean cruise in 1867 visiting several stops in the Mediterranean Sea including Morocco, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Russia, several countries in the Middle East "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." Twain's first published book is an account of a several weeks long ocean cruise in 1867 visiting several stops in the Mediterranean Sea including Morocco, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Russia, several countries in the Middle East ("The Holy Land") and Egypt, to name a few. Twain's biting 19th Century snark is in full effect as he trains his rapier wit on the inhabitants of each land, their customs and businesses, and especially his fellow American travelers. If you decide to take this trip along with Twain, make sure you pack your sense of humor so you can enjoy gems like this one: "In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    This is one of those books which I think time has not been kind to. All of the information was interesting, the little stories were a mixture of merely amusing, hysterically funny, and over-the-top annoying, and then there were the chapters which were absolutely fabulous--so well written and beautiful that I begged for an entire book of that kind of writing. Part of the problem here is that the world has become so politically correct that all the members of my book club agreed that we cringed at This is one of those books which I think time has not been kind to. All of the information was interesting, the little stories were a mixture of merely amusing, hysterically funny, and over-the-top annoying, and then there were the chapters which were absolutely fabulous--so well written and beautiful that I begged for an entire book of that kind of writing. Part of the problem here is that the world has become so politically correct that all the members of my book club agreed that we cringed at the frequent places where Twain was unkind, cruel, and usually very, very wrong about the people in the area. The Portugese, Carthegenians, and Syrians are only a few which he castigated. As a group we agreed that Twain's opinions were probably the mainstream opinions of most Americans of the time. There are many worthwhile chapters in the book, but it should be read with the knowledge that a 19th Century man is writing it to a 21st Century audience.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marc Weitz

    I found myself anxious to read this book expecting to enjoy the application of Mark Twain's wit to traveling abroad in Europe in 1867. The wit was there but hidden away amongst loads and loads of boring descriptions and events. Reading this book was like watching soccer: there were moments of interest tucked away in long minutes of people running around in a circle. So much so, that when the funny or interesting parts came up, I found that I would miss the beginning because I had zoned out. This I found myself anxious to read this book expecting to enjoy the application of Mark Twain's wit to traveling abroad in Europe in 1867. The wit was there but hidden away amongst loads and loads of boring descriptions and events. Reading this book was like watching soccer: there were moments of interest tucked away in long minutes of people running around in a circle. So much so, that when the funny or interesting parts came up, I found that I would miss the beginning because I had zoned out. This book is about Mark Twain's trip to Europe in 1867 aboard a cruise ship. Surprisingly, this is one of Mark Twain's early works. A travelogue is usually the type of book written by an established author, whom the reader anticipates hearing their perspective on traveling based on being a fan of their fiction. I'll start with the goods parts: First there are some very funny parts. Mark Twain does a great job making fun of the places he goes to and dealing with the constant cultural differences and people trying to sell them goods they don't need. Also, it interesting to read that travel 150 years ago wasn't all that different. Some of the conversations and complaints Mark Twain has with his traveling companions sound amazingly like those I have today with my friends. I viewed this period as a golden age of travel, but, for example, shops in Paris put up signs saying that they speak English, when they didn't, only to lure tourists in to buy goods. And wherever Twain goes, he is hounded by men offering to be his guide. The bad part: Most of it. So boring that I felt like I was reading a text book. Long, long, long descriptions of the places they visited that I could care less about. This was before photography really took off, so these long descriptions were for the benefit of the reader. It's also ironic that at the end is Mark Twain's famous quote "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." because he spends almost the entire book bagging on foreigners, their culture, and comparing it to back home where things are better. I finished reading this book with the impression that everyone and everything abroad just sucks, except for a few pretty churches here and there. Skip this boring book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    (APRIL '15) Absolutely excellent book - knew Twain was a great storyteller, but forgot what a good writer he is, too. That said, I'm halfway through (he's just finished Europe and heading to the Middle East), and so going to take a break before continuing. This is beautifully written - and hysterically funny - stuff, but probably better to spread it out and enjoy it, rather than race to the end like I do with fiction. The Innocents Abroad reads like the best Bill Bryson, except even more (APRIL '15) Absolutely excellent book - knew Twain was a great storyteller, but forgot what a good writer he is, too. That said, I'm halfway through (he's just finished Europe and heading to the Middle East), and so going to take a break before continuing. This is beautifully written - and hysterically funny - stuff, but probably better to spread it out and enjoy it, rather than race to the end like I do with fiction. The Innocents Abroad reads like the best Bill Bryson, except even more politically incorrect and therefore even funnier. It's also surprising how current this is - except for references to things like horses and gaslights, most of this could have been written today; since basically ruins are ruins, and French and Italians are French and Italians, (or "macaroni-stuffing organ grinders," as Twain calls them in a particular fit of pique). Great, classic stuff. (FINISHED, AUGUST '15) Aannndd...finished. Took forever, but this book is just so dense, so rich, so well-written...you really have to concentrate when you read, but you'll be rewarded with gems on almost every page. He goes on a bit when he actually gets to describing some of the temples, villages, etc. that he visits - but this is a travel book after all, and I came away not only wildly entertained, but also with a lot of new and fascinating information. Overall - and much to my surprise - I'd almost put this up there with Peter Fleming's News From Tartary, which is about the highest praise a humorous travel book can receive!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    First sentence: For months the great pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land was chatted about in the newspapers everywhere in America and discussed at countless firesides. Premise/plot: The Innocents Abroad is a nonfiction travel book by Mark Twain. According to the copy I read, "it was the best selling of Twain’s works during his lifetime and one of the best selling travel books of all time." Twain and his fellow passengers are traveling aboard the ship Quaker City. They'll see parts of First sentence: For months the great pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land was chatted about in the newspapers everywhere in America and discussed at countless firesides. Premise/plot: The Innocents Abroad is a nonfiction travel book by Mark Twain. According to the copy I read, "it was the best selling of Twain’s works during his lifetime and one of the best selling travel books of all time." Twain and his fellow passengers are traveling aboard the ship Quaker City. They'll see parts of Europe--France, Italy, Greece, Russia--and parts of the Middle East--the Holy Land--as well. The book consists mainly of his observations--the ship, the passengers, the hotels, the guides, the tourist-y sights, the smells, the modes of travel. It also includes his observations of human nature and society itself. My thoughts: I really loved this one. I did. It was often humorous--though not always. It is an actual travel book. Some places get the travel-book-treatment better than others. I get the idea that Twain wasn't super-super impressed with all the usual tourist-y places. That is, I'm not sure Twain loved visiting art museum after art museum after art museum. But Twain isn't one to stay bored--he creates his own entertainment if none is provided. This sometimes makes for a better narrative.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Thom Swennes

    Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad is a travel book. I have no doubt that it is a travel book because that is exactly how Mark Twain described it. It is, however, much more than a travel book. It is a classic example of how American’s (more often than not) behave in foreign countries. The passing of 145 years (published in 1867) hasn’t changed the American mentality in the least. Twain’s pilgrimage was to southern Europe and the Holy Lands. His descriptions of fellow passengers and people they met Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad is a travel book. I have no doubt that it is a travel book because that is exactly how Mark Twain described it. It is, however, much more than a travel book. It is a classic example of how American’s (more often than not) behave in foreign countries. The passing of 145 years (published in 1867) hasn’t changed the American mentality in the least. Twain’s pilgrimage was to southern Europe and the Holy Lands. His descriptions of fellow passengers and people they met were both colorful and humorous. As an American expatriate in Europe I can see and enjoy both sides of his described confrontations. This volume of prose also affords the reader a rare glimpse at the true Samuel Clements. Away from his native shores and surrounded by foreigners his choice of words take on a more “political correct” form and the commonly used word “nigger” is replaced with the more acceptable word “negro.” Although Samuel Clements forefathers owned slaves long before his birth (and the added fact that he enlisted for a short time in the Confederate Army) he wasn’t a slavery advocate. In fact, his descriptions of Negros, both free and slave, did as much for these groups as Stowe’s unforgettable book. His tour of the Holy Lands, though occasionally a little long winded, is full of geographical, historical and theological facts. He points to and points out flaws in all and humorously presents logical assumptions and deductions. I have come to expect much from this reputed American author and have not been disappointed. Occasionally trifles, such as Twain’s aversion or dismissal of all European currencies as franks, but I had not problem in overlooking these. It is a lesser known masterpiece but masterpiece no less. I recommend it to everyone.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Negin

    I love Mark Twains’s wit and humor and I really wanted to like this. The cover of the edition that I have is gorgeous by the way. There were a few funny sarcastic remarks here and there, but otherwise this was probably the most boring book that I’ve read in quite a while. Some of my favorite quotes: “Human nature is very much the same all over the world.” “In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand I love Mark Twains’s wit and humor and I really wanted to like this. The cover of the edition that I have is gorgeous by the way. There were a few funny sarcastic remarks here and there, but otherwise this was probably the most boring book that I’ve read in quite a while. Some of my favorite quotes: “Human nature is very much the same all over the world.” “In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.”

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    Twenty-six months after Lee surrendered to Grant, the thirty-one-year-old Samuel Clemens, a ‘special traveling correspondent” for San Francisco’s Alta California newspaper, boarded the recently decommissioned USS Quaker City—a steamship once active in enforcing the Union blockade—and embarked on a five-and-a-half-month “pleasure excursion” to Europe and the Holy Land. The Alta California payed Clemen’s $1,250 fare (more than $20,000 in today’s money) in return for a series of letters describing Twenty-six months after Lee surrendered to Grant, the thirty-one-year-old Samuel Clemens, a ‘special traveling correspondent” for San Francisco’s Alta California newspaper, boarded the recently decommissioned USS Quaker City—a steamship once active in enforcing the Union blockade—and embarked on a five-and-a-half-month “pleasure excursion” to Europe and the Holy Land. The Alta California payed Clemen’s $1,250 fare (more than $20,000 in today’s money) in return for a series of letters describing the travelers’ adventures, but Clemons—then known only as an itinerant reporter and a minor regional humorist—got more out of the deal than just a fancy trip abroad. Two years later he published The Innocents Abroad, or the New Pilgrim’s Progress (1869). The American public not only loved it for its humor, but also valued it as a travel guide. In spite of the classics that came after, it was always his best-selling book. By 1870, Mark Twain had become a household name. Twain’s tone can often be uneven and problematic, and this is doubly true of Innocents. He alternates plain-spoken folksy humor with flowery praises for the scenery, and it is often difficult to tell whether Twain is satirizes the boorish American, or whether he is indeed the American boor personified. (His almost complete lack of appreciation for the paintings of Italy particularly irritated me. Yes, I know, there are a helluva lot of Madonnas, but still.) Some of the flowery passages are the most memorable: his descriptions of Venice and the Acropolis at midnight are excellent. But it is the blunt, skeptical Twain that is the most memorable, always suspicious of the historicity of an ancient tradition—particularly if it is being used to pick an American’s pocket. (His treatment of the landmarks and relics of the Holy Land are some of the funniest passages in the book.) For the Twain fan, one of the most interesting things about this book is its unevenness, its variability of tone. It shows us a writer who is in the process of crafting his voice, and, by the end of the journey, he has found it. Here are few excerpts showing Twain’s range. First, Twain the skeptic’s exposes the “English Spoken Here” fraud of the shopkeepers of Paris. In Paris we often saw in shop windows the sign “English Spoken Here,” just as one sees in the windows at home the sign “Ici on parle francaise.” We always invaded these places at once — and invariably received the information, framed in faultless French, that the clerk who did the English for the establishment had just gone to dinner and would be back in an hour — would Monsieur buy something? We wondered why those parties happened to take their dinners at such erratic and extraordinary hours, for we never called at a time when an exemplary Christian would be in the least likely to be abroad on such an errand. The truth was, it was a base fraud — a snare to trap the unwary — chaff to catch fledglings with. They had no English-murdering clerk. They trusted to the sign to inveigle foreigners into their lairs, and trusted to their own blandishments to keep them there till they bought something. Second, Twain the romantic describes the city of Venice: We see little girls and boys go out in gondolas with their nurses, for an airing. We see staid families, with prayer-book and beads, enter the gondola dressed in their Sunday best, and float away to church. And at midnight we see the theatre break up and discharge its swarm of hilarious youth and beauty; we hear the cries of the hackman-gondoliers, and behold the struggling crowd jump aboard, and the black multitude of boats go skimming down the moonlit avenues; we see them separate here and there, and disappear up divergent streets; we hear the faint sounds of laughter and of shouted farewells floating up out of the distance; and then, the strange pageant being gone, we have lonely stretches of glittering water — of stately buildings — of blotting shadows — of weird stone faces creeping into the moonlight — of deserted bridges — of motionless boats at anchor. And over all broods that mysterious stillness, that stealthy quiet, that befits so well this old dreaming Venice. Third, Twain the cynic takes us on a tour of the grottos of the Holy Land: They have got the “Grotto” of the Annunciation here; and just as convenient to it as one’s throat is to his mouth, they have also the Virgin’s Kitchen, and even her sitting-room, where she and Joseph watched the infant Saviour play with Hebrew toys eighteen hundred years ago. All under one roof, and all clean, spacious, comfortable “grottoes.” It seems curious that personages intimately connected with the Holy Family always lived in grottoes — in Nazareth, in Bethlehem, in imperial Ephesus — and yet nobody else in their day and generation thought of doing any thing of the kind. If they ever did, their grottoes are all gone, and I suppose we ought to wonder at the peculiar marvel of the preservation of these I speak of. When the Virgin fled from Herod’s wrath, she hid in a grotto in Bethlehem, and the same is there to this day. The slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem was done in a grotto; the Saviour was born in a grotto — both are shown to pilgrims yet. It is exceedingly strange that these tremendous events all happened in grottoes — and exceedingly fortunate, likewise, because the strongest houses must crumble to ruin in time, but a grotto in the living rock will last forever. It is an imposture — this grotto stuff — but it is one that all men ought to thank the Catholics for. Wherever they ferret out a lost locality made holy by some Scriptural event, they straightway build a massive — almost imperishable — church there, and preserve the memory of that locality for the gratification of future generations …. The old monks are wise. They know how to drive a stake through a pleasant tradition that will hold it to its place forever. Oh, I almost forgot. The Quaker City cruise not only made Sam Clemens famous: it got him a wife as well. One of the friends he made on the voyage was Charles Langdon, who showed him a photograph of his sister Olivia. Twain later declared it was love at first sight. Soon after the Quaker City returned to New York, Sam and Olivia had their first date: they attended a reading by Dickens. On February 8, 1870, Sam and his beloved “Livy” were married.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Daren

    As I made my way through the pages of this book, I became more and more concerned. I reached about halfway, and we were still in France, having departed New York, visited the Azores, Gibraltar, Spain and undertaken a sidetrip to Tangier. As I reached the three quarter mark, and we were in Venice. I returned to the title pages, scouring for a clue as to my concern. Rechecking the published agenda of the steamship - yes, definitely a trip to the Holy Lands... Yes definitely a lot of Europe is As I made my way through the pages of this book, I became more and more concerned. I reached about halfway, and we were still in France, having departed New York, visited the Azores, Gibraltar, Spain and undertaken a sidetrip to Tangier. As I reached the three quarter mark, and we were in Venice. I returned to the title pages, scouring for a clue as to my concern. Rechecking the published agenda of the steamship - yes, definitely a trip to the Holy Lands... Yes definitely a lot of Europe is listed, but, hell we are running out of pages! So despite no indication to suggest this was volume 1 of The Innocents Abroad, it does in fact end as we prepare to leave Pompeii. A little about this edition, which, despite being only half the book, is quite attractive. It is a 1910 hardcover edition with an embossed cover and spine, gold leaf on the spine. The embossed pattern is a geometric Art Nouveau pattern, and inside the cover is an amazing peacock artwork, also in Art Nouveau style with a boxed border. Part of The World Library, published by Ward Lock & Co. I have previously read an excerpt of this book, published as a Penguin Great Journeys book called Can-Cans, Cats and Cities of Ash. It was excellent, and having read the relevant sections of the full book now, can say the excerpts were very well selected, and it really did pick some of the best writing. As much as I enjoyed this book - and I did - the great writing, the relentless ridiculing of almost anything or anyone, the interesting side-stories, legends and local stories - what I was really looking forward to was the second part of the journey, beyond Europe. Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, Beirut, Jordan, Egypt, followed by returning again through Europe. Some quick google found a copy of the book I could download, so the second volume beckons, but it is likely to be a slow burner, as I dislike reading from the screen. Maybe I will print it out... Volume 1 - 4 stars. Review of Volume 2 HERE

  17. 4 out of 5

    Diem

    This guffaw-inducing recollection of a pleasure cruise through Europe and the Holy Land made me want to ditch the husband and kids and minivan and become a travel writer. But then I realized that without my husband I don't have money to travel. And without my kids I don't have a need to leave the country to get a moment's peace. Also, I wouldn't have the freedom Twain had to express my open disdain for foreign cultures and people. Might as well stay home and enjoy Twain's "Roughing It". I hope This guffaw-inducing recollection of a pleasure cruise through Europe and the Holy Land made me want to ditch the husband and kids and minivan and become a travel writer. But then I realized that without my husband I don't have money to travel. And without my kids I don't have a need to leave the country to get a moment's peace. Also, I wouldn't have the freedom Twain had to express my open disdain for foreign cultures and people. Might as well stay home and enjoy Twain's "Roughing It". I hope it is as enjoyable as "Innocents". I loved it so much that I am forcing my kids to listen to it and there have been explosions of chortles blasting from the back rows of the van. Just saying the name "Ferguson" can make them all snicker. The reader in this audio book is fantastic. No small thing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marita

    This book was a very pleasant surprise. I've read the usual Mark Twain: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I had never even heard of this book before and read it only because it was the book for my book club. It's taken me quite awhile to finish it, but I am so glad I pushed through and determined to finish it. It is in a very different style than what I went into it expecting it to have. I think I expected dry, dull, monotonous descriptions of his travels. Not only were his descriptions much more This book was a very pleasant surprise. I've read the usual Mark Twain: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I had never even heard of this book before and read it only because it was the book for my book club. It's taken me quite awhile to finish it, but I am so glad I pushed through and determined to finish it. It is in a very different style than what I went into it expecting it to have. I think I expected dry, dull, monotonous descriptions of his travels. Not only were his descriptions much more interesting than I pre-judged they would be, the descriptions were peppered with genuine, laugh-out-loud humor. I finished this book last night and have caught myself smiling or giggling to myself as I think about the book today as I go about my work. One other thing-I don't know anything about Twain's religious upbringing or background. I have always had the impression that he was not a religious or spiritual man. However, I was impressed with his seeming knowledge of the Bible, particularly as I was reading his account of the Holy Land. Despite his making fun of a lot of religious practices and traditions that he observed as he traveled, he clearly had a core of Bible knowledge. That surprised me as well. The only thing that could have improved this book for me would be listening to Mark Twain himself read it on audiobook. I can only imagine how much more that would have enhanced the reading experience of this book for me. In my literary fantasy world, I would love to go to dinner or coffee (or both) with Mark Twain. I think he would be a fascinating person to know and a fun friend. I can't wait to make my way through all of his books and find what surprises await me there.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bob Foulkes

    The Innocents Abroad has been on my bookshelf to read for some time. I deflected the imperative to read it by giving it to my son, but when he returned it, I decided to dive in. This is one of Twain's famous books. He embarks on a voyage to Europe and the Middle East in 1869. Obviously dated and extensively written (he could have used a good editor), it is nevertheless worth the time it takes to sit down and enjoy his story. The book was a compilation of letters to a San Francisco newspaper; The Innocents Abroad has been on my bookshelf to read for some time. I deflected the imperative to read it by giving it to my son, but when he returned it, I decided to dive in. This is one of Twain's famous books. He embarks on a voyage to Europe and the Middle East in 1869. Obviously dated and extensively written (he could have used a good editor), it is nevertheless worth the time it takes to sit down and enjoy his story. The book was a compilation of letters to a San Francisco newspaper; well received, he was launched on his career as a writer. Tom Sawyer came nine years later and Huckleberry Finn another nine after that. It is an interesting read, Twain shows much of his capacity for insight and humour and his ability to look at things from an ironic perspective. His talent as a keen observer of mores and foibles of his fellow Americans is particularly fun; he may not be the first to comment on the clumsiness and inappropriateness of American travellers, but he makes good use of their mindless self-absorption for humour. It is a good book for long rainy winter weather. Take the time, there is a smile or a chuckle on almost every page.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ange H

    In 1867 Mark Twain had the opportunity, uncommon at the time, to go on a "pleasure cruise" to Europe and the Holy Land. This book is a collection of the reports he wrote back home during the trip. I haven't read much by Mark Twain, and that was many years ago so I wasn't sure what to expect. Based on this account I am sad to report that he seemed like kind of an asshole. He went through this amazing adventure apparently determined to find the worst in everyone and everything he saw, and to In 1867 Mark Twain had the opportunity, uncommon at the time, to go on a "pleasure cruise" to Europe and the Holy Land. This book is a collection of the reports he wrote back home during the trip. I haven't read much by Mark Twain, and that was many years ago so I wasn't sure what to expect. Based on this account I am sad to report that he seemed like kind of an asshole. He went through this amazing adventure apparently determined to find the worst in everyone and everything he saw, and to report that almost every experience fell short of his expectations. His descriptions were generally merciless and very, very long. Still, there was a lot to like in this novel and I have to rate this with 5 stars just because it is just SO incredibly cool to have this detailed account of travel 150 years ago. Imagine being in Istanbul (then Constantinople) when it wasn't a modern city, but instead still full of people in exotic Arabian dress, riding camels and donkeys. Imagine visiting the great Pyramids before King Tut's tomb was even discovered. Imagine Rome and Paris and other European cities before they were changed forever by two World Wars. Imagine being taken to meet the Russian Tzar and his family, simply because travelers from the US were so rare. (Note, I imagine I would enjoy all of these things much more if cranky old Twain wasn't among the party, complaining about everything.) Twain is famous for his wit, but for the most part I founds his observations more mean-spirited than funny. But there were three specific scenes that made me laugh so hard I cried; the kind of funny that I know will forever make me start giggling again just thinking about them - I can't help but like a book that gives me that gift. I have been to many of the places he describes, but never to the Holy Land. He was surprisingly knowledgeable about the Bible, and his descriptions in that section alone was worth putting up with some of the more boring parts. So in short, this book is definitely not for everyone, but for me it was ultimately worth the time. [WARNING: If by some chance my review intrigues you, but you are a person who gets offended easily, I caution that you will be triggered. For example, I am 100% Italian, and I was informed repeatedly that Twain found us all to be lazy, dirty, smelly and stupid. He really warmed to this topic and returned to it again and again. To be fair, he was contemptuous of most of the other foreign people that he encountered, especially Muslims - he was really NOT a fan. So anyway, just picking up the novel probably makes you a racist and and an Islamophobe. Also a misogynist because he thought most women of other nationalities were ugly. There was also some distressing animal cruelty. You know what, don't even bother reading it, just start demanding that it be banned.]

  21. 5 out of 5

    Naftoli

    This travel log is one of the best books by Twain I have read. His observations throughout Europe and the Holy Land are hilarious, reflective, multi-layered, derogatory, compassionate, insightful, and at times tediously introspective; in short it looks, feels, and reads like typical Twain. Additionally, the reader sees with a new pair of eyes, that is, a mid-19thcentury American Protestant set of eyes. But not always, at times Twain demonstrates a citizen-of-the-world worldview before diving This travel log is one of the best books by Twain I have read. His observations throughout Europe and the Holy Land are hilarious, reflective, multi-layered, derogatory, compassionate, insightful, and at times tediously introspective; in short it looks, feels, and reads like typical Twain. Additionally, the reader sees with a new pair of eyes, that is, a mid-19thcentury American Protestant set of eyes. But not always, at times Twain demonstrates a citizen-of-the-world worldview before diving back into an American one. Keenly self-aware, he even describes his forays into subjectively. This account is not only intriguing due to Twain’s travels and his analysis thereof, but because it preserves – in written form – a view of Europe and the Middle East as it was in the mid-1800s. This was a time when, according to Twain, most Europeans knew little of America and Americans and those that did looked upon it as a barbarous horde scarcely on the fringe of civilization. Surely this could not be said today. I especially enjoyed his critiques of tour guides throughout Europe and the Middle East. In France he and his travel companions lit upon the idea that the names were absolutely unpronounceable so they called their first French guide ‘Ferguson.’ Thereafter all guides were referred to as Ferguson. This often annoyed the guides but the Americans abroad saw it as a payback as the guides invariably fabricated stories and led them on wild goose chases to places they did not want to visit. In the Arab lands the locals were especially vexing due to beggary. The word ‘baksheesh’ (tip) will be forever tattooed upon his memory as he and his companions were hassled and harangued everywhere throughout those lands by demands for baksheesh. Not only did beggars demand it but nothing could be gotten or learned without putting money on someone’s hand. Twain found the incessant demands for baksheesh tormenting. If I had access to a time machine, I would very much like to be Twain’s traveling companion; he is an extremely entertaining man!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shane Ver Meer

    I finally finished this monster of a travel recollection. It's a wonderful satirization of travel guides of his time, coupled with the adventure-seeking escapades of Twain and pilgrims. A fun read, for sure.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sherrie

    Twain "lost me" during the second half of the trip, when the pilgrims head for the Holy Land. Seeing as how I spent 12 years in Catholic school (16 if you count attending a Jesuit university too) I found all the Bibleland stuff horribly tedious and not very amusing. Plus travelling with Twain is not as wonderful as one would think! He is close-minded, comparing everything in Europe to the size of things back in America (Lake Tahoe is a reoccurring reference point) and is mostly in a bad mood when Twain "lost me" during the second half of the trip, when the pilgrims head for the Holy Land. Seeing as how I spent 12 years in Catholic school (16 if you count attending a Jesuit university too) I found all the Bibleland stuff horribly tedious and not very amusing. Plus travelling with Twain is not as wonderful as one would think! He is close-minded, comparing everything in Europe to the size of things back in America (Lake Tahoe is a reoccurring reference point) and is mostly in a bad mood when he discovers that what he has read in guide books is all completely untrue. He is unmoved by the masterworks of the Renaissance but spends a lot of time talking about the conditions of the roads as they travel. Would you want to be stuck on a cruise ship with a guy who is constantly talking about how big the state of Missouri is? The irony of all of this is - a sentence about travel from this book is often quoted as encouragement to get one to travel: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Could this be the best travel book ever written? It's the best that I've ever read. Twain's wit sparkles throughout. Usually he simply describes what he and his friends are doing. When he needs to he can wax as eloquently as Frances Mayes. His observations are unsparing, often taking opposing views from the "travel mythology." For example, he's at a loss to explain the popularity of the great mosque in Istanbul and has few kind words for the Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land. His trip starts out Could this be the best travel book ever written? It's the best that I've ever read. Twain's wit sparkles throughout. Usually he simply describes what he and his friends are doing. When he needs to he can wax as eloquently as Frances Mayes. His observations are unsparing, often taking opposing views from the "travel mythology." For example, he's at a loss to explain the popularity of the great mosque in Istanbul and has few kind words for the Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land. His trip starts out on a steamer in New York, goes to the Canary Islands, Gibralter, Morocco, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Palestine. Much of the trip is overland: on trains in Europe and broken down old nags in Palestine broiling in heat, and avoiding bandits. Much of what he comments about are things that affect tourism today, such has the penchant for his fellow travelers of breaking off pieces of rocks and statues to take home. Though written in 1869, it's a great book even for today.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Mark Twain took a pleasure cruise in 1867 from New York to Europe and then down to Constantinople and Palestine. These are his recollections of his trip taken mainly from his letters and journal. Why I started this book: I've enjoyed Twain's work and his autobiography, and I thought that his travelogue would be a great book to listen to while living abroad myself. Why I finished it: It's long. Twain pokes fun, both of his American companions and the people that they meet along their journey. Mark Twain took a pleasure cruise in 1867 from New York to Europe and then down to Constantinople and Palestine. These are his recollections of his trip taken mainly from his letters and journal. Why I started this book: I've enjoyed Twain's work and his autobiography, and I thought that his travelogue would be a great book to listen to while living abroad myself. Why I finished it: It's long. Twain pokes fun, both of his American companions and the people that they meet along their journey. Written for his 19th century audience, it is filled with lengthy descriptions of the places, the casual racism of the time and some of my favorite Twain quotes that I hadn't realized came from this book. Like the fact that he could never get the French to understand their own language, or that travel is the cure for prejudice.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brian Eshleman

    Twain's satirical take on his travels is expected. This makes his resilient positive expectation for the next experience all the more touching. Given this default to cynicism, his distinction between skewering how Christians carry out tradition and a startlingly high view of Christ and the Scriptures is compelling. He continually reminded me of C.S. Lewis's admonition that the point of seeing through things is to see something through them. SECOND READING: Carry forward all the compliments above Twain's satirical take on his travels is expected. This makes his resilient positive expectation for the next experience all the more touching. Given this default to cynicism, his distinction between skewering how Christians carry out tradition and a startlingly high view of Christ and the Scriptures is compelling. He continually reminded me of C.S. Lewis's admonition that the point of seeing through things is to see something through them. SECOND READING: Carry forward all the compliments above several years. I even thought of the same quote from Lewis. Does this mean I'm set in my ways?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Natan

    I read the Hebrew translation, and apparently they only translated the part about the trip in the Holy Land. When I was little, I used to think about how fun it would be to bring some figure from history back to life and show him today's world. What would impress him the most? How would he react to modern technology? And that was before the Internet... Whom would I choose? Anyway, now I have no doubts as to the last question. I would choose Mark Twain and show him around the modern State of I read the Hebrew translation, and apparently they only translated the part about the trip in the Holy Land. When I was little, I used to think about how fun it would be to bring some figure from history back to life and show him today's world. What would impress him the most? How would he react to modern technology? And that was before the Internet... Whom would I choose? Anyway, now I have no doubts as to the last question. I would choose Mark Twain and show him around the modern State of Israel. I imagine he would find it quite different than the Ottoman backwater he describes...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    The First great Twain travel novel. The author makes fun of a bunch American tourists who travel through the Holy Land and the Near East in 1869. A must for Twain lovers and people interested in that region.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    The events in this book took place after the events in Roughing It , but it was written before them. Consequently, I feel like Roughing It is the better book since Twain matured as a writer in the three year interval. There were fewer side stories in this one, but still plenty of amusing observations. The first half covers his trip through southern Europe, and the second half sticks to the travels in the Holy Land. Throughout all of it are beggars and poor people who hound him and his party the The events in this book took place after the events in Roughing It , but it was written before them. Consequently, I feel like Roughing It is the better book since Twain matured as a writer in the three year interval. There were fewer side stories in this one, but still plenty of amusing observations. The first half covers his trip through southern Europe, and the second half sticks to the travels in the Holy Land. Throughout all of it are beggars and poor people who hound him and his party the entire time in every city. Unlike Dickens who is the poor man's champion, Twain has nothing kind to say about any of them. But he wouldn't be Mark Twain if he didn't exploit such things with his dry wit. The result is hilarious, but some of the running themes become a bit tiresome after several hundred pages, and so I didn't enjoy the second half of the book as much. Still, his highfalutin disdain for the common rabble, or any non male WASP is an absolute scream. This is just a stab in the dark, but I'm guessing Twain didn't care much for the Arabs. I've never seen such lambasting. Well, actually I have, but this is definitely top tier. He saw the sword of Godfrey of Bouillon which is a blade that absolutely could not hit a Christian and would also seek out a Mohammedan. Twain took it to test this legend, and it was true! He attempted to stab his friend, and instead struck a nearby Moslem in the heart when the blade veered off course of its own volition. Or something like that. He and his friend marveled over this miracle as he wiped the sword off and put it back on the wall, then went on with the tour. Tour guides in Europe don't come off looking very good. Neither do sailors, the clergy, townsfolk, shop keepers, the other passengers on the ship, or almost anybody, really. Whether someone had a slew of faults, just one, or none at all, Twain skewers and roasts them. The few exceptions are Napoleon III of France, the Emperor of Russia (I think it was Alexander II), and a couple other people I can't recall off the top of my head. He was definitely not impressed with Sultan Abdulaziz who was... "...Born to a throne; weak, stupid, ignorant, almost, as his meanest slave; chief of a vast royalty, yet the puppet of his Premier and the obedient child of a tyrannical mother; a man who sits upon a throne--the beck of whose finger moves navies and armies--who holds in his hands the power of life and death over millions--yet who sleeps, sleeps, eats, eats, idles with his eight hundred concubines, and when he is surfeited with eating and sleeping and idling, and would rouse up and take the reins of government and threaten to be a sultan, is charmed from his purpose by wary Fuad Pacha with a pretty plan for a new palace or a new ship--charmed away with a new toy, like any other restless child; a man who sees his people robbed and oppressed by soulless tax-gatherers, but speaks no word to save them; who believes in gnomes and genii and the wild fables of The Arabian Nights, but has small regard for the mighty magicians of to-day, and is nervous in the presence of their mysterious railroads and steamboats and telegraphs; who would see undone in Egypt all that great Mehemet Ali achieved, and would prefer rather to forget than emulate him; a man who found his great empire a blot upon the earth--a degraded, poverty-stricken, miserable, infamous agglomeration of ignorance, crime, and brutality--and will idle away the allotted days of his trivial life and then pass to the dust and the worms and leave it so!" Gracious. Tell us how you really feel. I do remember he was impressed with parts of Syria, though. Things sure have changed a lot since then, and I doubt his 31 year old self would feel the same way about the place were he to visit it today. I enjoyed the stories he was told in Jerusalem where every single stone had a significance, at least as far as the guides were concerned. "This divot in the stone here is where the savior stumbled while carrying the cross, and was marked with his elbow." That kind of thing. We also get the tale of the Wandering Jew who has done everything he can to die, but just can't manage it. Attempts include, but are not limited to going to the front of every war fought in the last 1800+ years to run in front of sword thrusts and bullets, and also prospecting in cholera, malaria, and the like. I said Roughing It had more side stories, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty in here as well. Some of the best were his retelling of common stories with a few changes. (We're assured he gives us the true versions). At least they were common 150 years ago, though I think only more educated people know of them today. Since radio, movies, TV and the internet came along, the passing along of old tales has fallen by the wayside. Instead of mentioning a few here, I'll leave you with just one in its entirety. It's the tale of Abelard and Heloise. Twain and this pumpkin both seem to feel about it the same way I do. Everyone thinks they know the story. Abelard had a love affair with Heloise. Some people didn't like it and cut off his dick. (In the movie Stealing Heaven, Heloise's despondent cry when she finds out makes her seem more upset about it than Abelard). Later she becomes a nun, and they write letters to each other. This is supposedly the most tragically romantic thing that ever happened in the history of the world, but Mark is here to set the record straight. Take it away Mr. Twain: But among the thousands and thousands of tombs in Pere la Chaise, there is one that no man, no woman, no youth of either sex, ever passes by without stopping to examine. Every visitor has a sort of indistinct idea of the history of its dead and comprehends that homage is due there, but not one in twenty thousand clearly remembers the story of that tomb and its romantic occupants. This is the grave of Abelard and Heloise—a grave which has been more revered, more widely known, more written and sung about and wept over, for seven hundred years, than any other in Christendom save only that of the Saviour. All visitors linger pensively about it; all young people capture and carry away keepsakes and mementoes of it; all Parisian youths and maidens who are disappointed in love come there to bail out when they are full of tears; yea, many stricken lovers make pilgrimages to this shrine from distant provinces to weep and wail and "grit" their teeth over their heavy sorrows, and to purchase the sympathies of the chastened spirits of that tomb with offerings of immortelles and budding flowers. Go when you will, you find somebody snuffling over that tomb. Go when you will, you find it furnished with those bouquets and immortelles. Go when you will, you find a gravel-train from Marseilles arriving to supply the deficiencies caused by memento-cabbaging vandals whose affections have miscarried. Yet who really knows the story of Abelard and Heloise? Precious few people. The names are perfectly familiar to every body, and that is about all. With infinite pains I have acquired a knowledge of that history, and I propose to narrate it here, partly for the honest information of the public and partly to show that public that they have been wasting a good deal of marketable sentiment very unnecessarily. STORY OF ABELARD AND HELOISE Heloise was born seven hundred and sixty-six years ago. She may have had parents. There is no telling. She lived with her uncle Fulbert, a canon of the cathedral of Paris. I do not know what a canon of a cathedral is, but that is what he was. He was nothing more than a sort of a mountain howitzer, likely, because they had no heavy artillery in those days. Suffice it, then, that Heloise lived with her uncle the howitzer and was happy. She spent the most of her childhood in the convent of Argenteuil—never heard of Argenteuil before, but suppose there was really such a place. She then returned to her uncle, the old gun, or son of a gun, as the case may be, and he taught her to write and speak Latin, which was the language of literature and polite society at that period. Just at this time, Pierre Abelard, who had already made himself widely famous as a rhetorician, came to found a school of rhetoric in Paris. The originality of his principles, his eloquence, and his great physical strength and beauty created a profound sensation. He saw Heloise, and was captivated by her blooming youth, her beauty, and her charming disposition. He wrote to her; she answered. He wrote again; she answered again. He was now in love. He longed to know her—to speak to her face to face. His school was near Fulbert's house. He asked Fulbert to allow him to call. The good old swivel saw here a rare opportunity: his niece, whom he so much loved, would absorb knowledge from this man, and it would not cost him a cent. Such was Fulbert—penurious. Fulbert's first name is not mentioned by any author, which is unfortunate. However, George W. Fulbert will answer for him as well as any other. We will let him go at that. He asked Abelard to teach her. Abelard was glad enough of the opportunity. He came often and staid long. A letter of his shows in its very first sentence that he came under that friendly roof like a cold-hearted villain as he was, with the deliberate intention of debauching a confiding, innocent girl. This is the letter: "I cannot cease to be astonished at the simplicity of Fulbert; I was as much surprised as if he had placed a lamb in the power of a hungry wolf. Heloise and I, under pretext of study, gave ourselves up wholly to love, and the solitude that love seeks our studies procured for us. Books were open before us, but we spoke oftener of love than philosophy, and kisses came more readily from our lips than words." And so, exulting over an honorable confidence which to his degraded instinct was a ludicrous "simplicity," this unmanly Abelard seduced the niece of the man whose guest he was. Paris found it out. Fulbert was told of it—told often—but refused to believe it. He could not comprehend how a man could be so depraved as to use the sacred protection and security of hospitality as a means for the commission of such a crime as that. But when he heard the rowdies in the streets singing the love-songs of Abelard to Heloise, the case was too plain—love-songs come not properly within the teachings of rhetoric and philosophy. He drove Abelard from his house. Abelard returned secretly and carried Heloise away to Palais, in Brittany, his native country. Here, shortly afterward, she bore a son, who, from his rare beauty, was surnamed Astrolabe—William G. The girl's flight enraged Fulbert, and he longed for vengeance, but feared to strike lest retaliation visit Heloise—for he still loved her tenderly. At length Abelard offered to marry Heloise—but on a shameful condition: that the marriage should be kept secret from the world, to the end that (while her good name remained a wreck, as before,) his priestly reputation might be kept untarnished. It was like that miscreant. Fulbert saw his opportunity and consented. He would see the parties married, and then violate the confidence of the man who had taught him that trick; he would divulge the secret and so remove somewhat of the obloquy that attached to his niece's fame. But the niece suspected his scheme. She refused the marriage at first; she said Fulbert would betray the secret to save her, and besides, she did not wish to drag down a lover who was so gifted, so honored by the world, and who had such a splendid career before him. It was noble, self-sacrificing love, and characteristic of the pure-souled Heloise, but it was not good sense. But she was overruled, and the private marriage took place. Now for Fulbert! The heart so wounded should be healed at last; the proud spirit so tortured should find rest again; the humbled head should be lifted up once more. He proclaimed the marriage in the high places of the city and rejoiced that dishonor had departed from his house. But lo! Abelard denied the marriage! Heloise denied it! The people, knowing the former circumstances, might have believed Fulbert had only Abelard denied it, but when the person chiefly interested—the girl herself—denied it, they laughed, despairing Fulbert to scorn. The poor canon of the cathedral of Paris was spiked again. The last hope of repairing the wrong that had been done his house was gone. What next? Human nature suggested revenge. He compassed it. The historian says: "Ruffians, hired by Fulbert, fell upon Abelard by night, and inflicted upon him a terrible and nameless mutilation." I am seeking the last resting place of those "ruffians." When I find it I shall shed some tears on it, and stack up some bouquets and immortelles, and cart away from it some gravel whereby to remember that howsoever blotted by crime their lives may have been, these ruffians did one just deed, at any rate, albeit it was not warranted by the strict letter of the law. Heloise entered a convent and gave good-bye to the world and its pleasures for all time. For twelve years she never heard of Abelard—never even heard his name mentioned. She had become prioress of Argenteuil and led a life of complete seclusion. She happened one day to see a letter written by him, in which he narrated his own history. She cried over it and wrote him. He answered, addressing her as his "sister in Christ." They continued to correspond, she in the unweighed language of unwavering affection, he in the chilly phraseology of the polished rhetorician. She poured out her heart in passionate, disjointed sentences; he replied with finished essays, divided deliberately into heads and sub-heads, premises and argument. She showered upon him the tenderest epithets that love could devise, he addressed her from the North Pole of his frozen heart as the "Spouse of Christ!" The abandoned villain! On account of her too easy government of her nuns, some disreputable irregularities were discovered among them, and the Abbot of St. Denis broke up her establishment. Abelard was the official head of the monastery of St. Gildas de Ruys, at that time, and when he heard of her homeless condition a sentiment of pity was aroused in his breast (it is a wonder the unfamiliar emotion did not blow his head off,) and he placed her and her troop in the little oratory of the Paraclete, a religious establishment which he had founded. She had many privations and sufferings to undergo at first, but her worth and her gentle disposition won influential friends for her, and she built up a wealthy and flourishing nunnery. She became a great favorite with the heads of the church, and also the people, though she seldom appeared in public. She rapidly advanced in esteem, in good report, and in usefulness, and Abelard as rapidly lost ground. The Pope so honored her that he made her the head of her order. Abelard, a man of splendid talents, and ranking as the first debater of his time, became timid, irresolute, and distrustful of his powers. He only needed a great misfortune to topple him from the high position he held in the world of intellectual excellence, and it came. Urged by kings and princes to meet the subtle St. Bernard in debate and crush him, he stood up in the presence of a royal and illustrious assemblage, and when his antagonist had finished he looked about him and stammered a commencement; but his courage failed him, the cunning of his tongue was gone: with his speech unspoken, he trembled and sat down, a disgraced and vanquished champion. He died a nobody, and was buried at Cluny, A.D., 1144. They removed his body to the Paraclete afterward, and when Heloise died, twenty years later, they buried her with him, in accordance with her last wish. He died at the ripe age of 64, and she at 63. After the bodies had remained entombed three hundred years, they were removed once more. They were removed again in 1800, and finally, seventeen years afterward, they were taken up and transferred to Pere la Chaise, where they will remain in peace and quiet until it comes time for them to get up and move again. History is silent concerning the last acts of the mountain howitzer. Let the world say what it will about him, I, at least, shall always respect the memory and sorrow for the abused trust and the broken heart and the troubled spirit of the old smooth-bore. Rest and repose be his! Such is the story of Abelard and Heloise. Such is the history that Lamartine has shed such cataracts of tears over. But that man never could come within the influence of a subject in the least pathetic without overflowing his banks. He ought to be dammed—or leveed, I should more properly say. Such is the history—not as it is usually told, but as it is when stripped of the nauseous sentimentality that would enshrine for our loving worship a dastardly seducer like Pierre Abelard. I have not a word to say against the misused, faithful girl, and would not withhold from her grave a single one of those simple tributes which blighted youths and maidens offer to her memory, but I am sorry enough that I have not time and opportunity to write four or five volumes of my opinion of her friend the founder of the Parachute, or the Paraclete, or whatever it was. The tons of sentiment I have wasted on that unprincipled humbug in my ignorance! I shall throttle down my emotions hereafter, about this sort of people, until I have read them up and know whether they are entitled to any tearful attentions or not. I wish I had my immortelles back, now, and that bunch of radishes.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    In 1867 Samuel Clemens AKA Mark Twain went on a pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land on board the ocean liner "Quaker City". It was a big deal at the time. News of the excursion was reported throughout the country. He sent back reports and and wrote articles on the trip (he was on staff of the New York Herald at the time). From his notes and journals he wrote this, his first book, "The Innocents Abroad". It is an irreverent and satirical work and "an incisive commentary on the "New In 1867 Samuel Clemens AKA Mark Twain went on a pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land on board the ocean liner "Quaker City". It was a big deal at the time. News of the excursion was reported throughout the country. He sent back reports and and wrote articles on the trip (he was on staff of the New York Herald at the time). From his notes and journals he wrote this, his first book, "The Innocents Abroad". It is an irreverent and satirical work and "an incisive commentary on the "New Barbarians" (Americans) encounter with the Old World." He takes some shots at what is considered beautiful landscapes and scenery in Europe and the Holy Land and compares it to American Western landscapes like Lake Tahoe which he felt dwarfed the so called beautiful places like Lake Como, Italy and The Sea of Galilee by comparison. Some of the journey had to be made on donkeys, camels, or horses and the accomodations were not always the best but he presents a fresh unadulterated view of the places they visit with reverence for those things which have meaning and separates them from the stuff that does not. Some of the highlights: The Azores (of which I am descended on my father's side). It did not give a flattering view of people there. I believe he used words like lazy, stupid, and shiftless. I still have this amazing picture of the hoods the women wore. Kind of like a "giant flying nun" type hat. Gibraltar Africa and Spain France - In Paris comments about the outrageous Cancan, The Louvre, Notre Dame, and then Versailles. Also comments about the emperor Napoleon and his guest the sultan of Turkey and comments on the comeliness of American women. Later on to Genoa and Lake Como as well as the echoes that can be heard at the Plaza Simonetti in Milan and the massive cathedral there. From there on to Rome, Naples with some interesting observations on the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. From there onto Greece and the Acropolis. He said they actually had to row a boat over with 3 other men in order to break a quarantine which was in effect due to the spread of cholera and typhus. They also went into the Black Sea and even had dinner with the Czar of Russia who was vacationing there. After this to Lebanon and the middle east. Donkeys, horses, and camels into the Holy Land. The Sea of Galilee, Jordan River, The Dead Sea, and Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Many irreverent comments were made in particular to the Catholics' love of relics although he loved the monks in Palestine who had many monasteries about the country which provided shelter, food, and rest to travelers. I took my time reading it so I could look up many of the places. Many of the places are still there to see and visit and in Israel the travel no longer requires donkeys. I believe they have cars and buses there now :). Very enjoyable and at times laugh out loud funny!

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