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A Tramp Abroad (Modern Library) Paperback – 24 Oct 2003


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A Tramp Abroad (Modern Library) + The Innocents Abroad (Wordsworth Classics) + Life on the Mississippi (Wordsworth Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library Inc; New edition edition (24 Oct 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812970039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812970036
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.2 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,017,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Twain is the pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 - 1910). He was born and brought up in the American state of Missouri and, because of his father's death, he left school to earn his living when he was only twelve. He was a great adventurer and travelled round America as a printer; prospected for gold and set off for South America to earn his fortune. He returned to become a steam-boat pilot on the Mississippi River, close to where he had grown up. The Civil War put an end to steam-boating and Clemens briefly joined the Confederate army - although the rest of his family were Unionists! He had already tried his hand at newspaper reporting and now became a successful journalist. He started to use the alias Mark Twain during the Civil War and it was under this pen name that he became a famous travel writer. He took the name from his steam-boat days - it was the river pilots' cry to let their men know that the water was two fathoms deep.

Mark Twain was always nostalgic about his childhood and in 1876 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published, based on his own experiences. The book was soon recognised as a work of genius and eight years later the sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was published. The great writer Ernest Hemingway claimed that 'All modern literature stems from this one book.'

Mark Twain was soon famous all over the world. He made a fortune from writing and lost it on a typesetter he invented. He then made another fortune and lost it on a bad investment. He was an impulsive, hot-tempered man but was also quite sentimental and superstitious. He was born when Halley's Comet was passing the Earth and always believed he would die when it returned - this is exactly what happened.


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Review

A Tramp Abroad is delicious, whether you open it at the sojourn in Heidelberg, or the voyage down the Neckar on a raft, or mountaineering in Switzerland, or the excursion beyond the Alps into Italy." --William Dean Howells

About the Author

Mark Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835, led one of the most exciting of literary lives. Raised in the river town of Hannibal, Missouri, Twain had to leave school at age 12 and was successively a journeyman printer, a steamboat pilot, a halfhearted Confederate soldier, and a prospector, miner, and reporter in the western territories. His experiences furnished him with a wide knowledge of humanity, as well as with the perfect grasp of local customs and speech which manifests itself in his writing. With the publication in 1865 of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Twain gained national attention as a frontier humorist, and the bestselling Innocents Abroad solidified his fame. But it wasn't until Life on the Mississippi (1883), and finally, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), that he was recognized by the literary establishment as one of the greatest writers America would ever produce. Toward the end of his life, plagued by personal tragedy and financial failure, Twain grew more and more pessimistic an outlook not alleviated by his natural skepticism and sarcasm. Though his fame continued to widen Yale & Oxford awarded him honorary degrees Twain spent his last years in gloom and exasperation, writing fables about "the damned human race." Dave Eggers is the author of five books, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity!, How We Are Hungry, What Is the What, and Zeitoun. He is the editor of McSweeney s, a quarterly magazine and book-publishing company, and is cofounder of 826 Valencia, a network of nonprofit writing and tutoring centers for young people. His interest in oral history led to his 2004 cofounding of Voice of Witness, a nonprofit series of books that use oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. As a journalist, his work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, and The Believer.

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 26 Dec 2005
Format: Paperback
America's post-Civil War years brought a renewed interest in the European scene. Journeys known as Grand Tours led tourists to take ship to the Continent. They fanned out across the landscape with the intent to "know Europe." Their return home resulted in a flurry of published accounts. Twain here satirizes both the tourists and their writings with delicious wit. Ever a man to play with words, his "tramp" refers to both himself and the walking tour of Europe he purports to have made. By the time you've reached the end of the account of the "walking tour" incorporating trains, carriages and barges, you realize that the longest "walk" Twain took occurred in dark hotel room while trying to find his bed. He claims to have covered 47 miles wandering around the room.
Twain was interested in everything, probing into both well-known and obscure topics. His judgments are vividly conveyed in this book, standing in marked contrast to his more reserved approach in Innocents Abroad. A delightful overview of mid-19th Century Europe, Tramp is also interlaced with entertaining asides. Twain was deeply interested in people, and various "types" are drawn from his piercing gaze, rendered with acerbic wit. Some of these are contemporary, while others are dredged from his memories of the California mines and other journeys. He also relished Nature's marvels, recounting his observations. A favourite essay is "What Stumped the Blue-jays." A nearly universal bird in North America, Twain's description of the jay's curiosity and expressive ability stands unmatched. He observes such humble creatures as ants, Alpine chamois, and the American tourist. Few escape his perception or his scathing wit. This book remains valuable for its timeless rendering of characters and the universality of its view. It can be read repeatedly for education or entertainment. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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If you wish to experience the full range of Mark Twain's prolific story telling capabilities then this is the book for you. It recounts his trip round Europe in the 1870's (when he was in his mid thirties), but is it much more than a mere travelogue.

He does of course cover many factual elements, for example a particular town in Germany which I was able to look up on Google. The photographs show that it has not changed much since Mark Twain was there and his description still applies. Later in the book he cites a famous large painting (in a city in Italy) which again I was able to find on Google and I could follow his account of the various portions of the canvas.

Mixed in with the travelogue are stories of what has happened to him along the way, exaggerations of what may have happened to him, and downright tall stories of what is most unlikely to have happened to him. It is up to the reader to determine which is which. Added to this are acknowledged myths and legends from the current locality. It all makes for a rich and entertaining tapestry of wonderful narrative.

Mark Twain has the ability to make me laugh out loud. He describes in comical detail his excruciating experience of German Opera, his delight in hearing a piano played really badly in a hotel lounge, his infuriation at suffering from insomnia, and his fascination with the behaviour of the common ant - to name but a few instances.

Do not overlook the appendices when you reach the end of the main part of the book. His analysis there of the eccentricities of the German language is glorious and a gem in its own right.

This eBook version has some curiosities. There are the usual handful of printing errors that one might expect to have been eliminated by good proofreading.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By honeybunny on 15 April 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Without a doubt, this is the funniest book ive ever read and ive read quite a few over my years.Twain's account of a French duel took me half an hour to read,I had to stop reading after every sentence I read,I was laughing so much.A modern day reader may wonder how such a dated occurance can still hold any humour,if you want to know how,download this book and discover what timeless humour means.I also loved his retelling of a day in the woods when a raven disturbed his peaceful reverie by hurling insults at him as only ravens can.Though alone,this incident caused him far more embarrassment than if his feathered bully had been human.Somehow,you can identify with even the most impossible stories such as taking hours to find a sock in the dark in his German bedroom.His nature discription also reveal a heart of a poet as well as an unequalled humourist.This is going to be a book I will dip into time and time again.especially when i'm in need of cheering up,just recalling some of these stories can lift any blues.A real tonic.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Published in 1880, 'A Tramp Abroad' is a mix of autobiography and fiction covering the author's travels in Southern Germany, the Swiss Alps and Italy.

The title sets the tone for the book in that "tramp" - in either sense of the word - is a deliberate misnomer, as Mr Twain/Clemens rarely travels by foot, taking advantage of the transport available at the time - trains, rafts, carriages, steamers, mules - and the services of that all-important courier.

This is a very long book and one that I found extremely mixed in its entertainment value. When it's good it's very very good, but when it's bad it's just dull. Although I read it diligently all the way through, I would advise skipping whole sections or chapters if they don't take your fancy in the first couple of pages. For example, I found the chapter 'Harris climbs Mountains for me' - a skit on travel writing of the time, where foreign words are hurled indiscriminately into the narrative - a clever idea at the start, but it dragged on and on, labouring the point ad infinitum.

As a contrast, a chapter such as that in which the narrator attempts the ascent of the Riffleberg in evening dress with half a mile of men and mules tied together, or that in which he attempts to descend a mountain via glacier are brilliant - absurd and hilarious. The essay 'The Awful German Language' in the Appendix is also not to be missed - this is a classic with such marvellous observations as 'In Germany a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has.'

A small point on the Kindle version - unfortunately the pictures don't work that well - most of these need to be zoomed in-on to appreciate them, which disturbs the flow of reading.
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