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Can-Cans, Cats and Cities of Ash (Penguin Great Journeys) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Feb 2007
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About the Author
Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835, Mark Twain spent his youth in Hannibal, Missouri, which forms the setting for his two greatest works, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Trying his hand at printing, typesetting and then gold-mining, the former steam-boat pilot eventually found his calling in journalism and travel writing. Dubbed 'the father of American literature' by William Faulkner, Twain died in 1910 after a colourful life of travelling, bankruptcy and great literary success.
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He writes in a congenial manner that suggests he is quasi oblivious to the architectural and cultural wonders he encounters, being rather more concerned with the behaviours of his fellow American travelling companions. Indeed, the very title of the book suggests his overall perceptions and impressions of cities such as Paris, Genoa and Athens and Tangiers. There is tangential, almost apologetic, mention of architecture and culture whilst absorbing the less salubrious aspects and commenting in the style of those involved in visits to a zoo.
His estimation of his fellow countrymen abroad (who still form a relatively small percentage of the total population)lends an insight into a weltanschauung that is still found to be prevalent today. By this I mean a rather superficial interest in cultural values and architectural splendour, with rather more in the expression of condescending largesse expressed through what accords with a visit by superintendent V.I.P.'s comparing notes for a Congressional Report.
I enjoyed the book for these and other insights into the mind of an American tourist abroad. I would recommend it for this alone but there is also the amiable congeniality of Twain himself wherein one finds echoes of American attitudes and values expressed in the adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.
A good read - thank you again Amazon!
Like other books in the series this is less travelogue and more, well, an observation of the tourist abroad. However, unlike other books in the series, witty, his writing simple and yet dramatic, I actually found myself rather liking this collection of anecdotes, a collection of excerpts from the author's first major work, The Innocents Abroad.
Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper