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The Innocents Abroad (Gift Classics) Hardcover – 13 Jun 1985

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (13 Jun. 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000424673X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0004246734
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,564,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The Stanfords Travel Classics series, now totalling 15 titles, showcases some of the finest historical travel writing in the English language. Every title is reset in a contemporary and easy-to-read typeface, to create a series that every lover of fine travel literature will want to collect and keep. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary J. Thurlow on 15 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you have ever wondered why Mark Twain is a pivotal author of American Literature, this book is for you. In this, his first book, Mark Twain is at his best. In 1867, he records a five month cruise through Europe, The Middle East, The Holy Land, and Northern Africa. His rich descriptions vividly chronicle his journey - that in many ways would echo what a traveller may see, think and feel even today. His caustic criticisms are full of self deprecating humour and 'tongue in check' wit. All the way through the 500 page book, you will laugh aloud. Reading along as he undertakes his journey is surprisingly fascinating. It is very interesting to 'hear' the thoughts and perceptions of an American, a Christian, a 19th Century man ... of Mark Twain himself. Delightful!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 168 reviews
80 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Take a Tour of Europe and the Holy Land with Mark Twain the inimitable Missouri traveler 7 Nov. 2008
By C. M Mills - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mark Twain is the Lincoln of our literature. Sam Clemens (1835-1910) wrote Huckleberry Finn in 1885 which has been acclaimed as our greatest American novel. Lesser known are his wonderful travelogues: "Roughing It' "Following the Equator"; "Life on the Mississippi and "The Innocents Abroad" published in 1869. This book is worth reading even 140 years after its publication. Twain style is a joy to read for he was a born storyteller and communicates his thoughts well on the page.
Twain was a reporter who joined the six month expedition to Europe and the Middle East on board the steamer "Quaker City." The pleasure tour had
been organized by the famous pastor Henry Ward Beecher (sibling of Harriet Ward Beecher) and Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. Neither of these notable made the trip citing other obligations.
Twain roomed with a young man from Elmira New York. He would later visit Elmira and meet his friend's sister Olivia. She would become his wife and the mother of the couple's three daughters.
The Innocents Abroad is a long book of 400,000 words covering over 500 densely written pages. Twain takes a sardonic, humorous view of European art as he guides us through the Louvre, Florence Italy and Rome. We visit London, Paris and meet with Czar Alexander II in the Crimea. Twain had a keen reporter's eye and a humorist's ability to paint word pictures of his fellow passengers,tour guides and natives of the fascinating cities and countries he visited on a busy itinerary.
As a Presbyterian pastor I found the most interesting part of the book dealt with Twain's tour of Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece and Israel. He was upset by the filth, disease and cruelty he saw in the land of Moses and Jesus Christ. Despite all his asides and digressions the observant reader can gain a good picture of what these places were like in 1869. Twain was an agnostic but knew his Bible.
Mark Twain was our greatest author. In this fine book you will get to know this fascinating man better as he shares his globe trotting journey with his readers.
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
The funniest book ever written-in the history of time! 10 Nov. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ok, maybe that is a minor overstatement, but this is one hilarous book, to be read by people who have travelled, who plan to travel, and generally, people who want to laugh. A lot.
The book is also surprising for its timeless points about the journeying of certain upper white, middle class people going on a grand tour of Europe. I frequently had to remind myself that it was written in 1869 because his observations and the behavior of his shipmates is so close to the way people I studied abroad with acted-only a few years ago.
Twain also puts those "cosmopolitan" people who claim to have traveled, but don't know anything about any place they have been but and just like to lord it over everyone else that they have "travelled" and you have not.
Reading this book is like listening to a very wise, old man tell you about his adventures. Its not like a book, more like one long conversation. Twain takes nothing seriously-not himself, his fellow travelers or the places they visit. The words are another adventure-sometimes, you know he is setting you up for something, other times he is serious for a while, then you end up in the middle of a joke.
I know this is against the rules, but the other posters who don't like this book-don't be so serious and p.c. all the time. Twain is making humorous observations, at a time when a different standard was acceptable. Not to mention, he does manage to get a few zingers in there about what people are willing to accept and what they do not.
You will laugh yourself silly and want to book a trip-not to Europe, just to anywhere, after reading this book.
43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Twain, the Terrible Tourist 2 Dec. 2005
By Stephen A. Haines - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Cliches aside, retrieving the outlook of mid-19th Century isn't easy. Having successfully concluded the upheaval of the War Between the States, the people of the USA, while bruised, felt confident. Their sense of righteousness was enhanced - they'd quelled a rebellion and freed slaves. Some took that attitude to other lands. The 1867 SS Quaker City excursion to Europe and the "Holy Land" was but one of those forays. It was special in that it carried one of the more discerning observers the United States had produced - Sam Clemens of Hannibal, Missouri and points West. He was to post letters to the San Francisco newspaper "Daily Alta California" describing the journey. The trip and the account opened Clemens' eyes and those of his readers over numerous legends.

In Clemens' baggage was a strong religious sense imparted by his mother, Jane. This cargo was balanced by Twain's more worldly experience on the Mississippi and his life in the mining communities in the West. When he crossed the gangplank to board the steamer, his gaze was sceptical and his pen ascerbic. His portrayal of the Quaker City's passengers began as they traversed the Atlantic, but it is his depiction of "foreigners" in their homelands that both shocks and enlightens. Starting with the Azores stopover, Clemens' observations of the islands are a tribute to their charms. Of the people, however, he has little positive to impart. They are dirty, noisy, conniving and devious. In general, they're "not American".

The use of the "innocents" is exemplified by Twain's description of contact with the Europeans. Educated in the minimal language training of the day, the travellers struggled to impart their wishes in French shops and restaurants. Twain seems to lay responsibility for this on the French "failure to understand their own language", but his description of the exchanges makes it clear where the problem lay. There was another side to this coin, however. Europeans were caught up in their own affairs. The United States was a remote and unknown element to them - "they'd had a war with somebody recently". Twain notes his shipmates were even then tinged with the arrogance that would fully blossom later. Respect for "tradition" had a variety of expressions in the "Quaker City" passengers. Twain depicts them all with delightful detachment.

As the ship made landfall in Mediterranean ports, Clemens and his comrades visit the "standard" tourist haunts. Paris is a must, Genoa is a treat, Rome is a maze of cathedrals and art galleries. Quickly disenchanted with "guides" he renames them all "Ferguson" and rebukes them at every opportunity. Michaelangelo seems so pervasive in Rome that the Pilgrims ask if Greek or Egyptian artefacts are his work - to the consternation of the "Ferguson" of the day. Twain's flexibility and ability to adapt to events leads some of the "innocents" to take the train from Rome to Naples - a city under quarantine. While the "Quaker City" lies still in the harbour, Twain and his companions tour the city and visit Vesuvius. A similar ploy works in Greece.

It is in the "Holy Land" that Clemens' descriptive powers and distrust of "authorities" flowers most brilliantly. Like many of his fellow passengers, he's been subjected to many tales from "Scripture" and a spate of earlier travel writers in Palestine. Unable to criticise the Bible outright, he lets the words speak for themselves, allowing logic and common sense to question dogma. The effusive travel writers, who had insisted Palestine was a "paradise" are brought out in contrast with Twain's observations of the barren desolation that was the Levant. He is scathing in his criticism of people who fabricate conditions there in order to sell their books. His veracity, of course, nearly had the opposite effect. "The Innocents Abroad" manuscript was originally rejected by Twain's publisher.

Sam Clemens' reputation was "made" with this book. It touched on many aspects of how people in the United States viewed themselves and the world. The subtle, but incisive, comments on tradition and legend were seeds finding fertile ground in a dynamic nation setting the practical foremost. "Innocents" was a challenge to dogmas and a paean to the sense of "realism" that permeated the post-Civil War era. The "Romantic" Era, still evident in mid-19th Century in the earlier accounts of Palestine, would be whisked aside. "Innocents" would be instrumental in that sweeping it away. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Honest, but humorous story of Twain's Grand Tour of Europe 12 April 2013
By Lynda L. Blevins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was attracted to this book because...

I need to research traveling by ship in 1867. This book was the perfect answer to learn about traveling in Europe in this time period, as well as an idea of writing in the time period. Matt Twain went on a Grand Tour of Europe and the Holy Lands in 1867. This book met all my research needs.

This book was about
Mark Twain had an opportunity to take a Grand Tour of Europe and the Holy Lands on the Quaker City with 64 other Americans. The voyage took about six months. He relates the experience of the trip in his own words. He sent newspaper reports throughout the voyage. As cholera was rampant in many places they visited, they often experienced quarantines in many ports lasting various time periods. Some were over nights and others where they were completely blocked from entering and had to move on. When the time period was short, Twain was always in the group which managed to go into town anyway.

As humor often does, Twain's approach to classical art, historical locations and sacred art and places, revealed a great amount of truth lacking in writing that respects the traditions of these objects.

Spoiler Alert: There is absolutely no political correctness in this book. (Makes you wonder what Mark Twain would do today.) If you are Muslim, Catholic, Mormon, well not Protestant, French, Russian, well not American, American Indian, Police, and other groups I didn't pick up on, and a member of Congress, read this book with caution.

Things I liked about this book
I confess. I have the same sense of humor as Mark Twain. So I enjoyed the way he documented the trip, his fellow travelers and the places they visited. He often drew parallels to locations he visited to places in America. I found this very helpful. He used Lake Tahoe several times. I know the first time I visited Lake Tahoe in the dead of winter, I thought it has to be the most incredible place on earth. I found the comparisons of other localities on point. It also helped me have a better understand the size of the landscape he was describing.
If you replace gas lights with electric lights and horses/carriages with mini-vans, you would think you were reading about a trip today. (Although it would be interesting to see the Holy Lands on donkey/horseback.
If I get a chance to go back to Europe and visit the Holy Lands, I'm taking this book with me.

Why you should read this book
This is considered the best travel book ever written. According to Leslie Fiedler, who wrote the afterward in the Readers Digest Edition, "it became an instant best seller (.429)"... "and for a long time it outsold all of Twain's other books, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (p. 430)"
The prose can be wonderful. After one draw on a Turkish narghile pipe, he writes, "For the next five minutes I smoke at every pore, like a frame house that is on fire on the inside." (p. 240)
Recently, I've read some posts on how memoirs an be a great way to break into consideration as a serious writer. This book took Mark Twain from a `newspaperman' into a professional writer in Twain's mind, as well as the general public.
In the Afterward, Fiedler says this is the book where Samuel Clements found his voice as Mark Twain. As a writer, it is worth the read to see that voice develop.

This book lived up to the back cover copy
Actually, I have this book on my Kindle and I got my hard copy from Half-Price Books, so I don't have a back cover. It did live up to what I read on the internet and to the comments in the Afterward by Leslie Fiedler. If your copy has the Afterward, I would recommend reading it first.

Contact the Author
Click for Mark Twain's Amazon Page
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Not Twain's Best 17 Dec. 2008
By T. Hooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Innocents Abroad covers the travels of the steamer Quaker City and its cargo of American tourists headed on a pilgrimage to the holy land. One thing that you notice right off the bat is that Americans haven't really changed since Twain's time. We still make the same remarks and complain about the same things and are prone to the same bad habits as then.

The funniest parts of this book is when Twain is talking about the paintings of the old masters or about the relics of Europe's churches. Twain likes to give his honest opinion in saying that he enjoys newer painting more than the old faded and cracked paintings of the old masters, and he is sure to torture any tour guide that gets within his grip with the fact. As for the relics, Twain notes that there are enough pieces of the true cross to make several copies over. The skeptic in Twain comes out and he points out everything that he thinks is false or a sham.

The reason that I say this isn't Twain's best is that this was written by a young Twain as a newspaper writer, so in a sense he he writing to appeal to a larger crowd. He takes every opportunity to criticize the people and races that he encounters on his travels. To the modern reader, some of this criticism will read like racial stereotyping, so at times it may be uncomfortable for the modern reader to read. The more tolerant Twain that we often hear quoted doesn't develop until later in his career.
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