February 2, 2012

Book Review: Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad.

This week has been all about school school shmoole. But I'd love to be blogging instead, so I thought I'd compromise. I've been wanting to do a review of books that I've been reading and loving lately, but I haven't yet gotten to it. Then last night I finished a Book Review I had to do for school, and thought I'd share. I'm not that much of a Mark Twain fan, or wasn't, until I came across The Innocents Abroad. 
Here's my review, in paragraph form. 

"Never having been overseas, doesn't mean one can't experience the sights of lands far away. Through Mark Twain's classic record of his travels in The Innocents Abroad Twain provides a delightfully descriptive, humorous, and occasionally irreverent,  means through which one may vicariously travel distant continents. Mark Twain's purpose was not to record his experiences scientifically, nor as a biased advertiser. Instead, he strived to depict the countries he visited as he saw them- as a common tourist would.

 Mark Twain does not limit his accounts to merely the sights, and new places. He furnishes the reader with quaint details of life at sea with a colorful and diverse group of passengers. He tells of the effects living on a ship had on the passengers, "As is always the fashion at sea, the passengers shortly began to pick up sailor terms- a sign that they were beginning to feel at home." So that the reader himself feels as if he too were part of the traveling company.

 When land is sighted at last, and all are ashore, Twain's vivid description of the scenery begins. He tells of the beautiful, "Versailles! It is wonderfully beautiful! You gaze and stare and try to understand it is real, that it is on earth, that it is not the Garden of Eden- but your brain grows giddy, stupefied by the world of beauty around you, and you half believe you are the dupe of an exquisite dream." He vivaciously writes of the people and their culture, "Most of the young demoiselles are robed in a cloud of white from head to foot...They are very fair, and many of them have blue eyes, but black and dreamy dark brown ones are met with oftenest." He adds in the accents and dialects of the people, especially that of the Italian and French guides, "If ze zhentlemans will to me make ze grande honneur to me rattan in zees service, I shall show to him everysing sat is magnifique to look upon in ze beautiful Parree." making the chapters all the more interesting to read.

 Oftentimes, Mark Twain uses humor to lighten his accounts of his journey, "The first rake of his razor loosened the very hide from my face and lifted me out of the chair... Suffice it [to say] that I submitted and went through with the cruel infliction of a shave by a French barber;" But sometimes, Twain gets carried away and becomes irreverent in his tales "I have caught a glimpse of the faces of several Moorish women..and I am full of veneration for the wisdom that leads them to cover up such atrocious ugliness."

 As Twain did not intend for his book to be taken as a travel guide, he does not write his book full of reviews of specific hotels or restaurants. On the contrary, he simply puts down on paper the description of the places as he saw them. If he found them to be horrible, he wrote as such, if he found his surroundings astounding, he depicted them so. However, even though he didn't mean to a write a book of recommendations, Twain does include several advices for those touring abroad, "Never smoke any Italian tobacco." "The guides deceive and defraud..who goes to Paris for the first time and sees its sights alone or in company with others as little experienced as himself."

 Mark Twain's travel records provides utter enjoyment for the reader. Through his picturesque and amusing writing style, Twain succeeds in taking his audience along with him in his journeys abroad. Sassy, sarcastic, yet raw and honest, The Innocents Abroad is a classic with good reason- it is entertaining from boarding to docking."





4 Wonderful people made my day!:

  1. I explore lands far away through some of the beautiful photography on some of these blogs!

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  2. Sounds like an interesting book- I hadn't even heard of it! My secondary field of specialization is travel literature of the Renaissance period. The theory behind the travel journal, especially, is rather fascinating. If it's something you decide you want to look at more as time goes on, to see HOW it works, and WHY it was written in such a way as to be so compelling, I can point you in the direction of some great theory.

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    1. I'm loving it so far. If you ever get a chance, read it!
      Really? I have so much to learn. I had no idea that was something you could study! It sounds great, and I'd love to learn more about it. (:

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