The Innocents Abroad: Or the New Pilgrims Progress

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Signet Classic, 1966 - Fiction - 511 pages
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One of the most famous travel books ever written about Europe and the Holy Land by an American, "The Innocents Abroad" is Mark Twain's irreverent and incisive commentary on the "New Barbarians" 'encounter with the "Old World." Twains hilarious satire is a double-edged weapon, impaling with sharp with the chauvinistic and the cosmopolitan alike. His naive Westerner is a blustering pretender to sophistication, a too-quick convert to culture. Turning the coin, the ruins of antiquity appear but a shadow of their heralded glory; the scenery of Europe and the Holy Land dwarfs in contrast to the splendor of a Western landscape. With stunning agility Twain unconsciously uses his travelogue - as Leslie A. Fiedler points out - to search out the "archetypal differences" between Americans and Europeans - the "American identity." As Mrs. Fiedler points out in his pungent Afterword, this was a quest that was to obsess Mark Twain's literary career: "over and over, he was to return to the themes of "The Innocents Abroad..." a classic work which, without ceasing to be amusing, marks a ciritcal point in the development of our literature, and especially in our attempt through literature to find out who we Americans are."

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About the author (1966)

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, in 1835, and died at Redding, Connecticut in 1910. In his person and in his pursuits he was a man of extraordinary contrasts. Although he left school at twelve when his father died, he was eventually awarded honorary degrees from Yale University, the University of Missouri, and Oxford University. His career encompassed such varied occupations as printer, Mississippi riverboat pilot, journalist, travel writer, and publisher. He made fortunes from his writing but toward the end of his life he had to resort to lecture tours to pay his debts. He was hot-tempered, profane, and sentimentaland also pessimistic, cynical, and tortured by self-doubt. His nostalgia helped produce some of his best books. He lives in American letters as a great artist, the writer whom William Dean Howells called "the Lincoln of our literature."

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