In June 1867, Mark Twain set out for Europe and the Holy Land on the paddle steamer Quaker City. His enduring, no-nonsense guide for the first-time traveler also served as an antidote to the insufferably romantic travel books of the period.
“Who could read the programme for the excursion without longing to make one of the party?”
So Mark Twain acclaims his voyage from New York City to Europe and the Holy Land. His adventures produced The Innocents Abroad, a book so funny and provocative it made him an international star for the rest of his life. He was making his first responses to the Old World—to Paris, Milan, Florence, Venice, Pompeii, Constantinople, Sebastopol, Balaklava, Damascus, Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem. For the first time he was seeing the great paintings and sculptures of the Old Masters. He responded with wonder and amazement but also with exasperation, irritation, and disbelief. Above all he displayed the great energy of his humor, more explosive for us now than for his beguiled contemporaries.
Public Domain (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“A classic work…[that] marks a critical point in the development of our literature.” (Leslie A. Fiedler, literary critic)
This was a romp! As a traveler myself, and to many of the places on the "innocents'" itinerary, it was a kick to hear Twain's take on the people and places and various travel annoyances, many of which haven't changed in the past 150 years. It was also great fun to get a picture of how international travel took place in those days, and left me wishing I had 5 months and a sponsor to send me following in their wake.
Twain was not immune to the ethnic stereotypes and prejudices of the period, which can certainly make the more culturally sensitive among us cringe; however, I often suspected that many of his more outrageous and condescending remarks were just his way of satirizing their own (and our) ignorance of how the rest of the world lives. In any case, it was easy to just consider the source and appreciate the cleverness, if not always the content, and bear in mind that it is in fact possible to encounter the embodiment of our stereotypes from time to time.
I very much enjoyed Grover Gardener's narration, as his tone sounded to me like what I would expect Mark Twain to sound like. In sum, a good time was had by all!
Chet Yarbrough, an audio book addict, exercises two cocker spaniels twice a day with an Ipod in his pocket and earbuds in his ears. Hope these few reviews seduce the public into a similar obsession but walk safely and be aware of the unaware.
As mentioned in previous essays, Mark Twain is an acquired taste for some. “… Innocents Abroad” fascinates those who are travelers, either for fun or vocation. It is a joy to hear Twain’s reminiscence of a mid-nineteenth century voyage to Europe, Egypt, and the Holy Land. There is added pleasure to a Nevadan because of Twain’s comparisons to Nevada’ open spaces, Lake Tahoe, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
To this listener’s ear, “...Innocents Abroad” is an irreverent primer on travel to foreign countries; not because everything is the same but because some 21st century world travels are similar; and all world travels are given perspective by Twain’s observation.
Grover Gardner's performance makes "The Innocents Abroad" an entertaining experience.
This is a journal of his trip in 1867 to France, Italy, and the Holy land, missing a few due to plague and quarantine. Twain is sometimes surprisingly biased and it's often not clever or funny. He is unfailingly credulous about Christianity, albeit critical of Roman Catholicism, and dismissive of all Arabs, most Italians, and many other foreigners. His cleverness surfaces describing himself and fellow travelers, but too rarely. Overlong.
From a modern perspective, Mark Twain's cultural attitudes are dated. In fact, to me he comes off as a but of an arrogant a**hole, but one who could write amusingly and engagingly about his travels.
I have loved other things written by Train, but it seems like his personality shone through this work, and it is a personality I didn't much care for.
That said, It is a fascinating look at 19th century travel in Europe, the Holy Land, and the Black Sea area (Where he has lunch with the czar!)
Worth a listen, but be prepared for a bit of 19th century racism and a myopic perspective.
63 years old-retired-hate winters-like growing potatoes-ride a Harley-built a couple of electric bicycles-vietnam vet-like audible
It is sadly the same old story--the people selling the book give it far better reviews than those who bought it. Every narrator tries to sound like the writer would sound and speak like the writer too. They seldom succeed. Mr. Twain goes on the dream trip and spends most of the time complaining. Poorly narrated. Twain exhibits his genious for story telling. What is missing is a story teller.
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