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Hailed by the New York Herald as “an oasis in the desert of works on foreign travel” The Innocents Abroad was a great success when first published and it remained the bestselling of all Twain’s works throughout his lifetime It shows the author at the height of his literary power as he records razor sharp often hilarious observations of the people he meets and places he visits during a trip to Europe and the Holy Land in 1867Originally a series of travel letters written for a San Francisco newspaper the book presents a refreshingly honest and vivid view of such places as Tangier Marseilles Gibraltar Rome Constantinople and Damascus Twain’s humor takes a particularly satirical turn toward tourists who rely on travel guidebooks rather than personal impressions to define their travel experiences The book alternates light hearted chapters with serious passages involving history statistics and descriptions of religious relics artwork and architectureFrom amusements and tribulations at sea viewing the “outrageous” cancan in Paris and witnessing the notable sights of Venice to observing the grandeur of St Peter’s ascending Vesuvius and contemplating the remains of Solomon’s Temple this classic will delight a wide audience including longtime fans of the American humorist and anyone who enjoys an entertaining and enlightening travel book This edition also includes all the illustrations from the original publication


10 thoughts on “The Innocents Abroad

  1. says:

    When I lived in Madrid years ago I used to buy pistachios from an Iranian refugee in Retiro Park I don't recall his name but I decided to call him Stan It drove him crazy but I called him Stan anyway Why did I call him Stan?One word FergusonFerguson is every tour guide that graces the pages of Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad The author and his cohort call their guides Ferguson whether in Paris or in Athens The name drives each Ferguson crazy but they do it anyway And regardless of the site or museum their attitude before the remains of some long ago Renaissance man is the same Is is he dead? This also drives the Fergusons crazyIs this admirable? No but it epitomizes the experience of Americans abroad It is brash showing at once disdain for and secret envy of the old world its people and its institutionsThis is the book that instilled in me a wanderlust that still afflicts me even though I have rarely been able to satisfy it I wanted to travel the world and call my guides Ferguson I still do


  2. says:

    I love certain travel books ones that give you an inspiring window on places you’ve never been or want to revisit while holding a humbling mirror up to the perspective and culture of the traveler “Innocents Abroad” is a classic that fulfills this goal nicely and a fun read to boot In 1867 the nearly unknown journalist Mark Twain set out at age 32 on a chartered ship from New York with a group of Americans for a three month tour around the Mediterranean with major overland side trips His itinerary overlapped some of my own school trip many years ago to educational sites Italy Greece and Turkey But it also included forays into France Russia North Africa and the Middle East capped by a facinating inland trip by horse and camel from Damascus to Jerusalem Here is a map of his journey I appreciate the combination of self deprecation wonder slapstick humor and cynicism represented in Twain’s writing The following uotes capture his nobler sentiments The gentle reader will never never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad I speak now of course in the supposition that the gentle reader has not been abroad and therefore is not already a consummate ass Travel is fatal to prejudice bigotry and narrow mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts Broad wholesome charitable views of men and things can not be acuired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime Human nature appears to be just the same all over the worldFor his sense of wonder here are a few examples of his elouence from experience of people in the streets of Constantinople of the ruins of the Appian way and of the ancient Sphinx in Egypt People were thicker than bees in those narrow streets and the men were dressed in all the outrageous outlandish idolatrous extravagant thunder and lightning costumes that ever a tailor with the delirium tremens and seven devils could conceive of Gray lizards those heirs of ruin of sepulchres and desolation glided in and out among the rocks or lay still and sunned themselves Where prosperity has reigned and fallen; where glory has flamed and gone out; where beauty has dwelt and passed away; where gladness was and sorrow is; where the pomp of life has been and silence and death brood in its high places there this reptile makes his home and mocks at human vanity His coat is the color of ashes and ashes are the symbol of hopes that have perished of aspirations that came to nought of loves that are buried If he could speak he would say Build temples I will lord it in their ruins; build palaces I will inhabit them; erect empires I will inherit them; bury your beautiful I will watch the worms at their work; and you who stand here and moralize over me I will crawl over your corpse at the last I gave it up and walked down to the Sphynx After years of waiting it was before me at last The great face was so sad so earnest so longing so patient There was a dignity not of earth in its mien and in its countenance a benignity such as never any thing human wore It was stone but it seemed sentient If ever image of stone thought it was thinking It was looking toward the verge of the landscape yet looking at nothing—nothing but distance and vacancy It was looking over and beyond every thing of the present and far into the past It was gazing out over the ocean of Time—over lines of century waves which further and further receding closed nearer and nearer together and blended at last into one unbroken tide away toward the horizon of remote antiuityHumor is tucked into every page providing comic relief without dominating the story Galloping pell mell on donkeys through the streets of a town in the Azores is one example that stands out for me The humor often barbs both ways as in this example In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own languageAnother vein of humor comes from playing practical jokes on the tourist guides which in every country they call “Ferguson” to save on mastering a foreign name In one case after getting tired of too much hype over Michelangelo’s creations the travelers keep pestering their guide with uestions about his responsibility of ancient structures like the Roman Forum For a similar deflation of their guide’s pressures to revere Columbus here is a joke they played on him He took us to the municipal palace After much impressive fumbling of keys and opening of locks the stained and aged document was spread before us The guide’s eyes sparkled He danced about us and tapped the parchment with his finger “What I tell you genteelmen Is it not so? See handwriting Christopher Colombo write it himself” We looked indifferent unconcerned The doctor examined the document very deliberately during a painful pause Then he said without any show of interest “Ah Ferguson what what did you say was the name of the party who wrote this?” “Christopher Colombo ze great Christopher Colombo” Another deliberate examination “Ah did he write it himself; or or how?” “He write it himself Christopher Colombo He’s own hand writing write by himself” Then the doctor laid the document down and said “Why I have seen boys in America only fourteen years old that could write better than thatOn the negative side personal cultural bias comes out in many places References abound to the dirtiness of the people in many countries hygiene issues such as mustache hair on the women and the rapaciousness of the beggars The great efforts to find soap at hotels throughout the journey is funny at times but overdone I sympathize with Twain over his cynicism over the obsessive collection and promotion of holy relics by Catholic churches There are just too many nails he was crucified with on display and too many bones of saints honored in shrines to foster meaningful spirituality Aristocratic excess is a perennial target for American sensibility and so is the contrast between religious pomp of prelates and the poverty of the people While his meeting with the Russian Czar in Yalta made Twain recognize his ordinary humanity just thinking about the Muslim Caliph in Constantinople with hundreds of wives makes him see hypocrisy in the whole religious enterprise Here is his anti Catholic rant on Italy As far as I can see Italy for fifteen hundred years has turned all her energies all her finances and all her industry to the building up of a vast array of wonderful church edifices and starving half her citizens to accomplish it She is today one vast museum of magnificence and misery All the churches in an ordinary American city put together could hardly buy the jeweled frippery in one of her hundred cathedrals And for every beggar in America Italy can show a hundred and rags and vermin to match It is the wretchedest princeliest land on earth O sons of classic Italy is the spirit of enterprise of self reliance of noble endeavor utterly dead within ye? Curse your indolent worthlessness why don't you rob your church?Despite this apparent cynicism it was fascinating to experience Twain’s underlying reverence with respect to the sites of the Holy Land In Jerusalem you can feel his underlying judgment of commercial hype over supposed sites where Mary supposedly stood or stayed where Christ rested a moment as he bore his cross toward Calvary etc But at many other points his awe comes through over sites that remind him how an ordinary fisherman from Nazareth who sailed the Galilee with his brothers came to change the world through his spiritual vision In process of this read I came to appreciate the evolution of Twain’s own sensibilities and the story telling skills that would shape the landscape of American literature


  3. says:

    Twenty six months after Lee surrendered to Grant the thirty one year old Samuel Clemens a ‘special traveling correspondent” for San Francisco’s Alta California newspaper boarded the recently decommissioned USS uaker City—a steamship once active in enforcing the Union blockade—and embarked on a five and a half month “pleasure excursion” to Europe and the Holy Land The Alta California payed Clemen’s 1250 fare than 20000 in today’s money in return for a series of letters describing the travelers’ adventures but Clemens—then known only as an itinerant reporter and a minor regional humorist—got out of the deal than just a fancy trip Two years later he published The Innocents Abroad or the New Pilgrim’s Progress 1869 The American public not only loved it for its humor but also valued it as a travel guide In spite of the classics that came after it was always his best selling book By 1870 Mark Twain had become a household nameTwain’s tone can often be uneven and problematic and this is doubly true of Innocents He alternates plain spoken folksy humor with flowery praises for the scenery and it is often difficult to tell whether Twain is satirizing the boorish American or whether he is indeed the American boor personified His almost complete lack of appreciation for the paintings of Italy particularly irritated me Yes I know there are a helluva lot of Madonnas but still Some of the flowery passages are impressive his descriptions of Venice and the Acropolis at midnight are excellent But it is the blunt skeptical Twain that is the most memorable always suspicious of the historicity of an ancient tradition—particularly if it is being used to pick an American’s pocket His treatment of the landmarks and relics of the Holy Land are some of the funniest passages in the bookFor the Twain fan one of the interesting things about this book is its unevenness its variability of tone It shows us a writer who is in the process of crafting his voice and by the end of the journey he has found itHere are few excerpts showing Twain’s range First Twain the skeptic’s exposes the “English Spoken Here” fraud of the shopkeepers of Paris In Paris we often saw in shop windows the sign “English Spoken Here” just as one sees in the windows at home the sign “Ici on parle francaise” We always invaded these places at once — and invariably received the information framed in faultless French that the clerk who did the English for the establishment had just gone to dinner and would be back in an hour — would Monsieur buy something? We wondered why those parties happened to take their dinners at such erratic and extraordinary hours for we never called at a time when an exemplary Christian would be in the least likely to be abroad on such an errand The truth was it was a base fraud — a snare to trap the unwary — chaff to catch fledglings with They had no English murdering clerk They trusted to the sign to inveigle foreigners into their lairs and trusted to their own blandishments to keep them there till they bought something Second Twain the romantic describes the city of Venice We see little girls and boys go out in gondolas with their nurses for an airing We see staid families with prayer book and beads enter the gondola dressed in their Sunday best and float away to church And at midnight we see the theatre break up and discharge its swarm of hilarious youth and beauty; we hear the cries of the hackman gondoliers and behold the struggling crowd jump aboard and the black multitude of boats go skimming down the moonlit avenues; we see them separate here and there and disappear up divergent streets; we hear the faint sounds of laughter and of shouted farewells floating up out of the distance; and then the strange pageant being gone we have lonely stretches of glittering water — of stately buildings — of blotting shadows — of weird stone faces creeping into the moonlight — of deserted bridges — of motionless boats at anchor And over all broods that mysterious stillness that stealthy uiet that befits so well this old dreaming Venice Third Twain the cynic takes us on a tour of the grottos of the Holy Land They have got the “Grotto” of the Annunciation here; and just as convenient to it as one’s throat is to his mouth they have also the Virgin’s Kitchen and even her sitting room where she and Joseph watched the infant Saviour play with Hebrew toys eighteen hundred years ago All under one roof and all clean spacious comfortable “grottoes” It seems curious that personages intimately connected with the Holy Family always lived in grottoes — in Nazareth in Bethlehem in imperial Ephesus — and yet nobody else in their day and generation thought of doing any thing of the kind If they ever did their grottoes are all gone and I suppose we ought to wonder at the peculiar marvel of the preservation of these I speak of When the Virgin fled from Herod’s wrath she hid in a grotto in Bethlehem and the same is there to this day The slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem was done in a grotto; the Saviour was born in a grotto — both are shown to pilgrims yet It is exceedingly strange that these tremendous events all happened in grottoes — and exceedingly fortunate likewise because the strongest houses must crumble to ruin in time but a grotto in the living rock will last forever It is an imposture — this grotto stuff — but it is one that all men ought to thank the Catholics for Wherever they ferret out a lost locality made holy by some Scriptural event they straightway build a massive — almost imperishable — church there and preserve the memory of that locality for the gratification of future generations The old monks are wise They know how to drive a stake through a pleasant tradition that will hold it to its place forever Oh I almost forgot The uaker City cruise not only made Sam Clemens famous it got him a wife as well One of the friends he made on the voyage was Charles Langdon who showed him a photograph of his sister Olivia Twain later declared it was love at first sight Soon after the uaker City returned to New York Sam and Olivia had their first date they attended a reading by Dickens On February 8 1870 Sam and his beloved “Livy” were married


  4. says:

    This novel is part stand up comedy and part history lesson Throughout the novel Twain is hysterically funny irreverent lampooning and blatantly racist a classic American traveling abroad This travel log touches upon almost every tourist spot in Europe North Africa and the Holy Land Twain covers many of the most important sites in Europe in a thorough manner The text would become tedious if not for the wit and clever turning of phrases throughout the work The humor does have uite an edge The racism and bigotry showed by the author in this piece does not kill the story in my estimation it only makes Twain a man of his timeMark Twain walks up to the top inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa visits Florence and the Vatican sees holy sites throughout current day Israel and Jordan and even visits the Sphinx and the pyramids In many ways Twain remains unchanged by his journey He feels that the clergy at every church are trying to rip him off with fake relics; of course often he is right The prejudices that he carried with him do not change He refers to Muslims as pagans and savages euating them with his low view of the Native Americans p406 He and his companions refused to use the names of their guides instead refer to one and all as Ferguson Of course the real name of the place is El something of other but the boys still refuse to recognize the Arab names or try to pronounce them p299There are some great scenes in this novel Twain at the grave of Adam in the Holy Land from Adam and Eve fame is fantastic Twain breaks down sobbing over visiting the grave of a long lost 'relative' this far from home Adam is a relation six thousand years down the family tree in the author's estimation but still a kinsman Another wonderful image is of Twain and his companions riding through the desert on battered broken horses with purple parasols to keep the sun off of them Good uotes p311 I could not conceive of a small country having so large a historyp424 Travel is fatal to prejudice bigotry and narrow mindedness and many of our people needed it sorely on these accounts


  5. says:

    This armchair travel guide is based on an actual journey made by Twain in 1867 He was only thirty two It first came out in the New York Herald peu à peu as he sent in his journal entries Only later in 1869 was it published as a book The excursion route can be seen here clicking on the map you are linked to the text in the book referring to the particular location In this way you can check out Twain's writing So what makes this a classic and why is it so highly praised? For its humor and Twain’s delightful knack at expressing himself He has a way with words He is opinionated which is uite fun; he dares to say what he thinks Some of his views are dated and uite simply not politically correct One does have to keep in mind that the book was published a century and a half ago On the other hand many cultural tendencies do not change You recognize these and smile at the kernels of truth that lie in Twain’s observations observations made long long ago and yet still valid Not all but some The book has historical content There are tons of little tidbits that are interesting According to him Damascus is said to be the oldest city in the world and some think even the Garden of Eden Twain was at the second world’s fair The International Exposition of 1867 held in Paris He tells of us his experiences first hand He and some others took another side tour to Odessa on the Black Sea and there met with the Russian Czar and Czarina Nicholas and Alexandra in their summer palace in the Crimea He visited the Leaning Tour of Pisa He tells us that it feels as though if you go to the edge you weight will topple it over He and three friends sneak out of the ship moored outside the port Piraeus; against imposed uarantine regulations they go into Athens see the Acropolis by moonlight steal grapes are chased and finally return to the ship by dawn Such escapades transform interesting factual details into personal tales Twain is perceived as a friend telling you of what he saw and experienced He is relaxed; he speaks from the heart Twain wonderfully captures the essence of many many places What makes Paris Paris and Constantinople Constantinople? Versailles Milan Venice Rome Pompeii Don’t forget to look at the map aboveThe humor is intellectual It is for those of us who have traveled and have themselves thought about cultural peculiarities Twain pokes fun Sometimes at himself and sometimes at others His travelling companions cannot be bothered to learn the names of their guides so they call them all Fergusson This they can pronounce Yet this also shows their ridiculous sense of self importance In France none of the French understand what they say but it never occurs to them that this is due to their own inability to speak the language properly Such is the humor Humor circling around culture There are pokes at the Catholic Church and the grandiose claims made in the travel guides of his timeI had planned on giving the book four stars I enjoyed it all the way through until the excursion arrived in the Middle East Here I began to have serious trouble Twain's prejudicial view of Arabs is disturbing at least for those of us with a modern sensibility From this point on his deprecatory views reverberate in all that he relates In the latter third of the book his negative views become a rant The humor became sour and repetitive His distaste for Arab nations and people prevented him from appreciating what these lands could have offered him His attitude just wrecks the fun What began as a pleasure excursion of curiosity exploration and discovery ends as a funeral excursion without a corpse These are his own words found at the book’s conclusion I feel they appropriately capture the book’s end I must clarify that despite numerous tribulations no one died on the trip The audiobook is wonderfully narrated by Grover Gardner Easy to follow and spoken at a perfect speed The Americans speaking French are totally hysterical This adds to the humor The narration is just how it should be and so have given it five starsThis book is interesting and very funny Unfortunately that ends when Twain arrives in the Middle East


  6. says:

    Travel is fatal to prejudice bigotry and narrow mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts Broad wholesome charitable views of men and things can not be acuired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetimeTwain's first published book is an account of a several weeks long ocean cruise in 1867 visiting several stops in the Mediterranean Sea including Morocco Spain France Italy Greece Turkey Russia several countries in the Middle East The Holy Land and Egypt to name a few Twain's biting 19th Century snark is in full effect as he trains his rapier wit on the inhabitants of each land their customs and businesses and especially his fellow American travelers If you decide to take this trip along with Twain make sure you pack your sense of humor so you can enjoy gems like this one In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language


  7. says:

    God you've got to love Twain A funny sacred cow roasting romp through Europe and The Middle East taking on stereotypes high society and decorum with a shotgun blast to the face However this is young amused by humanities flaws Mark Twain not embittered Fuck the World Mark Twain So there's still plenty of room for real wonder and occasional awe Plus it has the best reaction to a Mummy you will ever see


  8. says:

    10 percent humorous versus 90 percent tedium And that may even be a generous assessmentThe humor is actually laugh out loud humor and I rarely LOL while reading but the tedium oh the tedium It became and of a trudge I may yet give this another try as I really do want to read Twain but not in the foreseeable future


  9. says:

    When you read Twain you realize he is head and shoulders above other authors even really good authors How do you measure the level of his genius? I don't know Physicists used to rate the genius level of other physicists on a scale of 1 10 and then along came Dick Feynman whom everyone agreed was off scale Twain's ability as a writer might just be off scale too I have seen estimates of Goethe's and Shakespeare's Is which are at the top end of all humanity's and I'm uite sure Mark Twain is at least their eual intellectually Thank god for Mark Twain accessible to the common man and fun than a barrel of monkeys The term LOL which means Laugh Out Loud takes on a whole new meaning when you read Twain I remember the last time I laughed out loud like this was when I was commuting back and forth to work from the Upper West Side to Midtown on the IRT As you know Manhattan subways are pretty sober places and the cold fluorescent light and the bitter tastesmell of the lingering asbestos brake particles in the air and the other vaguely metallic and pungent smells of the underground train lair lends a sort of uber reality to the scene as do the grim faces of the people on the train contending as they are with the harsh business of survival in one of the roughest cities in the world I was reading Roughing It one of Twain's other works on those hard cold grey seats on the sides of the train with people on either side of me and across from me and I would burst out laughing every page or so and people would look at me as if there was something wrong with me and I would say I'm sorry this is really funny And I would hold out the book for them to see and then they would go back to staring out into the space in front of themselves rather than looking at me like I had broken some sort of Law of the Subway And then I would go back to reading and laughing out loud because Twain is so very very wry It's too bad you can't bottle what Twain has to say because if you could you'd be drunker than a 100 Indians dancing in a cornfield on the first sip It's really priceless


  10. says:

    This is one of those books which I think time has not been kind to All of the information was interesting the little stories were a mixture of merely amusing hysterically funny and over the top annoying and then there were the chapters which were absolutely fabulous so well written and beautiful that I begged for an entire book of that kind of writing Part of the problem here is that the world has become so politically correct that all the members of my book club agreed that we cringed at the freuent places where Twain was unkind cruel and usually very very wrong about the people in the area The Portugese Carthegenians and Syrians are only a few which he castigated As a group we agreed that Twain's opinions were probably the mainstream opinions of most Americans of the time There are many worthwhile chapters in the book but it should be read with the knowledge that a 19th Century man is writing it to a 21st Century audience