Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain

The Innocents Abroad was Mark Twain’s first book. It details his travels throughout Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. Reading through this book I felt like I was stuck in a bubble inside Mark Twain’s head, trusting to his descriptions of whatever he saw. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I felt I got more of Mark Twain’s writing style than actual descriptions of what he was seeing. Let me try again. Mark Twain’s writing style coloured and perhaps obscured everything he saw.

That is not to say that Mark Twain’s writing style is a bad thing. Anything but! His writing makes the book a very pleasant read. Yet I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Huckleberry Finn and Pudd’n Head Wilson.

I was surprised too by how much he disdained the Middle East and its peoples. He didn’t seem to have much that was nice to say about them at all. His descriptions of The Holy Lands showed what a chasm there is between literature believed to be the word of God, and the places and peoples from where those great events took place. It made one ponder heavily the difference between myth and reality.

Perhaps The Innocents Abroad is not a good place for Mark Twain novices to begin with. Start with Huckleberry Finn to find out why Twain is so good. This one is more for the student or devoted fan of his work.

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