In April 1878, Mark Twain and his family traveled to Europe. Overloaded with creative ideas, Twain had hoped that the sojourn would spark his creativity enough to bring at least one of the books in his head to fruition. Instead, he wrote of his walking tour of Europe, describing his impressions of the Black Forest, the Matterhorn, and other attractions.
Neglected for years, A Tramp Abroad sparkles with Twain’s shrewd observations and highly opinionated comments on Old World culture and showcases his unparalleled ability to integrate humorous sketches, autobiographical tidbits, and historical anecdotes in a consistently entertaining narrative.
Cast in the form of a walking tour through Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, and England, A Tramp Abroad includes among its adventures a voyage by raft down the Neckar and an ascent of Mont Blanc by telescope, as well as the author’s attempts to study art - a wholly imagined activity Twain “authenticated” with his own wonderfully primitive pictures. This book reveals Mark Twain as a mature writer and is filled with brilliant prose, insightful wit, and Twain’s unerring instinct for the truth.
Public Domain (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“[A Tramp Abroad] is delicious, whether you open it at the sojourn in Heidelberg, or the voyage down the Neckar on a raft, or the mountaineering in Switzerland, or the excursion beyond the Alps into Italy.” (William Dean Howells)
This is a hoot, as Mark Twain goes on a "walking tour" of the forests of Germany and the mountains and lakes of Switzerland. ("Walking" is in quotes because he spends most of his time on trains or cadging rides from raftsmen on the Nekar River.) There's quite a bit of real history and folklore here, as well as some beautiful travel writing; but Twain can't resist the temptation to pad his mountain-climbing and forest-browsing exploits with tall tales worthy of ... well, Mark Twain. It's hard to imagine that anyone could listen to Twain's description of arduously "climbing" one of the Swiss Alps -- actually, tracing the view to the top of the mountain by means of a hired telescope -- without roaring with laughter. His travelling companion, in real life the pastor Joe Twichell, here referred to as Twain's "agent, Harris," gets to play the straight man for much of Twain's humor. It's not as well known as some of Twain's other travel books, but it's as funny and delightful as the best of them. Grover Gardner gives his usual outstanding performance.
I love to read travel stories about the places I visit before I go on trips, and I read this book before traveling to Germany. It does have some of Twain's signature wit and humor, but it also drags a bit at times. If you are a big fan of Mark Twain or have an interest in Germany or German culture, you will likely enjoy it. It is fun and entertaining at times, but it does not have the pacing or storyline that tend to make travel books gripping. I am glad I read this book and I did enjoy it, but I did not love it, and at times I was bored.
Few authors could ever come close to the nuanced comedy found in Twain. Poignant and hilarious moments all written masterfully. The appendix on the German language and boiling thermometers to mark altitude nearly killed me.
Grover Gardner is perfect and you feel as if Mark Twain is speaking to you directly.
This is charming Mark Twain, quirky, whimsical, personal, with delightful observations of characters and events as he journeys through Germany. There are longueurs, but Grover Gardner's familiar narration glides over them. A find!
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