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The Innocents Abroad: Or, The New Pilgrim’s Progress | [Mark Twain]

The Innocents Abroad: Or, The New Pilgrim’s Progress

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“A classic work…[that] marks a critical point in the development of our literature.” (Leslie A. Fiedler, literary critic)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Cynthia Franks New York, NY United States 05-08-12
    Cynthia Franks New York, NY United States 05-08-12 Member Since 2006

    Sootyfootyput

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    "Twain's Hidden Gem"

    If you've not read Innocents Abroad, this is a great way to experience it. Many don't read this and it is one of Twain's hidden gems. It is Twain at his best, "Is he dead?" The first time I read it, it made me laugh out loud in public places. If you have travelled at all you will enjoy it. If you travelled to these places you'll get an extra bang out of it. Human nature is timeless and there is no better proof of it than the observations of a master. He gives the straight dope on traveling in Holy Land.

    For a long time the only version of "Innocents Abroad," was narrated by Flo Gipson. The first time I heard it, I thought it was horrible. But I've listened to it more than once, it makes great bed-time listening. I downloaded this version because it was narrated by a man, but I have to say, I think Flo Gipson captured Twain's irreverent tone better than Grover Gardner. Grover Gardner has a more pleasing sounding voice than Flo, though. So it's a toss-up.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian Farnborough, United Kingdom 09-14-12
    Ian Farnborough, United Kingdom 09-14-12 Member Since 2003
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    "Its Twain....just buy it!"

    Twain is one of my favourite fiction writers. All his talents are also there in full strength in this non-fiction work.

    Telling the story of a journey through the Mediteranean and the "Holy" land by a group of Americans it is laced with all the humour, irreverance and intelligence that I love in his work. As a travel book it gives just enough flavour of the countries and places it visits to be relevant and contains some interesting historic details that were the currency of the day. I came away with a clearer picture of the reach of the Turkish (Ottoman?) empire than I had before and a better notion of some of the scale of the geography.

    But you're not going to enjoy this for geography or history. You're going to enjoy it if you're interested in people and intelligent and witty comment on their behaviour. That is what Twain did best and this is one of his best.

    Grover Gardner does an excellent job of the narration. Just the right level of old man growl to fit the words perfectly.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson Jonan-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Japan 01-31-14
    Jefferson Jonan-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Japan 01-31-14 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

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    "Pre-Fame Mark Twain Does Europe and the Holy Land"

    Imagine going on a five-month package tour of Europe and the Holy Land in 1867 with a pre-Tom Sawyer Mark Twain--his acerbic wit aimed at tourists, countries, peoples, artifacts, and monuments. One of the most interesting features of Twain's The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim's Progress (1869) is seeing what the world was like back in the 1860s through his eyes: Italy lurching into unification; a prince from Denmark ruling Greece; Napoleon III remodeling France; America completing the transcontinental railroad; Russia being friendly with the USA; and cholera threatening Europe. At the same time, many things are eerily similar to today's world: packaged tours, "asinine" tourists, passport and quarantine problems, beggars and peddlers, guides in cahoots with shops, etc. And some things transcend time: the pyramids and ancient art.

    Twain and his fellow American "elect pilgrims" on the steamship Quaker City are only ironically "innocents"; through popular literature and guidebooks they have imbibed romantic images of the places they visit, and they are guilty, like all tourists, of becoming "asses" abroad. At the outset Twain states that one of his purposes is "to suggest to the reader how he would be likely to see Europe and the East if he looked at them with his own eyes instead of the eyes of those who traveled in those countries before him." To do this, with an angry glee he debunks various "frauds" about Europe and the Holy Land perpetrated by idealizing writers and avaricious guides, shop owners, and government officials. Any conventional wisdom about culture or religion or travel is fair game.

    Twain is bracingly--abrasively--politically incorrect. He scorns Europeans for never bathing with soap and says things like "Italy is one vast museum of magnificence and misery" peopled by "fumigating, maccaroni-stuffing organ-grinders" and beggars who should exercise some self-reliance and rob the rich churches in their poor neighborhoods. The farther East he travels, the more hideous and importunate he finds the beggars and peddlers. He lumps Arabs with Native Americans as dirty savages whose habit of silent watching makes the white man want to exterminate them. He longs for Russia to go to war with Turkey to clean the world of the blot of the Ottoman Empire ("a people by nature and training filthy, brutish, ignorant, unprogressive, superstitious--and a government whose three graces are Tyranny, Rapacity, Blood."). He and his friends take to calling any guide from any country "Ferguson." He often compares the exotic things he sees with familiar things in America (like the Sea of Galilee with Lake Tahoe). As he moves through the Islamic world, he feels the pain of being disliked as a Christian by "heathens."

    All that said, Twain also skewers Americans and the USA. Some of his fellow pilgrims are "reptiles" in need of squashing, people who paint their names on monuments and hack away souvenirs from them wherever they go. And he excoriates both the ugly American noisily carrying on in English in foreign restaurants and the pretentious "hermaphrodite" American showing off by mangling foreign languages. His account of trigger-happy pilgrims firing pistols at imaginary Bedouins is disturbing and hilarious.

    Twain boldly reveals his ignorance about or lack of taste for sacred cows. The Old Masters are overrated, because they painted the same subjects (martyrs, saints, Mary, etc.) ad nauseam while bowing and scraping to their patrons. He mocks tourists for Oohing and Aahing over da Vinci's Last Supper when they are really unable to see the figures in the time-worn and dirt-caked painting. He tears the romantic veil from famous lovers like Abelard and Heloise and highlights the bloodthirsty nature of medieval knights and Old Testament war heroes. He even "discovers" humorous "apocryphal" accounts of Jesus' miracles as boy wonder.

    Twain does not only mockingly debunk. He is moved and impressed by places and things like Versailles, Milan's cathedral, and Lebanon's Baalbec temple complex. He is open to sublime phenomena and skilled at evoking awe and pleasure in them, as with the Sphinx, "grand in its loneliness; it is imposing in its magnitude; it is impressive in the mystery that hangs over its story. And there is that in the overshadowing majesty of this eternal figure of stone, with its accusing memory of the deeds of all ages, which reveals to one something of what he shall feel when he shall stand at last in the awful presence of God." He generally finds magic and beauty in the moonlight (e.g. the Acropolis) or at a distance (e.g. Damascus)--until the sun rises or he gets too close, when squalor and noise assert themselves.

    Even early in his career, Twain is a great writer, describing things so vividly you can easily imagine them, as with Nazareth "clinging like a whitewashed wasp's nest to the hill-side." And he writes funny riffs on things like Constantinople's dogs (ubiquitous and unambitious), true cross relics (ubiquitous and suspicious), Joshua's wars (comprehensive and bloody), and Holy Landscapes (sun-blasted and rocky).

    I wish he were less biased against Islam and Moslems. His antipathy makes him exaggerate their people as "savages," their music as "infernal," their language as "ugly," and their cities as squalid and ignore the appeal of things like St. Sophia ("the rustiest old barn in heathendom"). He takes travel writers and tourists and art lovers to task for romantically exaggerating the merits of Oriental exotica, and then cynically exaggerates their demerits, as when he says, "Of all the unchristian beverages that ever passed my lips, Turkish coffee is the worst," producing "a tickling aggravation that keeps you barking and coughing for an hour." At times his humor tires.

    Grover Gardener gives his usual smooth, clear, and appealing reading of the book. He sounds like Twain uttering his own frequent irony and occasional awe.

    Finally, this is a big, biased, funny, embarrassing, and enriching book. It is a little like reading the Twain of "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" (1895) anatomizing Cooper's "bad" writing with comically gross exaggeration: entertaining, but perhaps not wholly fair or accurate. Twain fans and travel fans should read it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. S. Cohen New York, NY USA 03-06-13
    M. S. Cohen New York, NY USA 03-06-13 Member Since 2003
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    "Wow! 100 years old and totally fresh today!"
    What did you love best about The Innocents Abroad?

    All the terrific anecdotes about how the Americans interact with the Europeans. And the hilarious problems with language and guides.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Innocents Abroad?

    How they would rename all their guides to "Fergusen"


    Have you listened to any of Grover Gardner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Hadn't heard him before but he was wonderful.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Not really.


    Any additional comments?

    For anyone who thinks Mark Twain is just Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn, they should listen to this book. It is just wonderful. And tells you a lot about life in the 19th Century.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Tualatin, Or 97062 02-21-13
    Emily Tualatin, Or 97062 02-21-13
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    "Delightfully Mark Twain"
    Where does The Innocents Abroad rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book is a wonderful historical trip to Europe and the Middle East. The best of any travel Log I have read


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Mark Twain, as it is written in the first person.


    What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The Reader makes it alive, as if you are right there


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Many moments were laughable as well he has very interesting comments about the times


    Any additional comments?

    no

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margo Appleton, WI, United States 07-01-13
    Margo Appleton, WI, United States 07-01-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Hilarious even now"

    This is a travelogue, pure and simple. However, Twain uses it as a vehicle to display his sardonic wit at its best. It is amazing that after 150 years, much of the interaction with traveling companions has changed not one bit. Any international traveler will immediately sympathize with the petty annoyances Twain describes, and realize current experience is not really much changed. Now, the speed of transport has certainly increased, and no one nowadays can take the leisurely six months off described here, but the bureaucrats Twain tangles with, and the multitude of demands for "bakshish" will be familiar to anyone.

    The performer did not do justice to Twain's style; in my opinion, Twain is more like Andy Rooney, which the narrator did not seem to appreciate. Still, great to listen to in the car when you are traveling anywhere.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alison Petersham, MA, United States 10-04-12
    Alison Petersham, MA, United States 10-04-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Classic Twain"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would recommend this book to someone who wanted to read Twain specifically or to someone about to travel to Europe and the Middle East.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    It did drag on or ramble at times, but that's Twain.


    Did Grover Gardner do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    He didn't really try to differentiate the characters because it was written in first person. I do wish he had taken bigger pauses between subject changes though. Twain can make some big topic jumps but there was no breath between so more than a few times when I was doing something else I had to rewind to catch the transition.


    Do you think The Innocents Abroad needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mayita Reno, NV, United States 07-13-14
    Mayita Reno, NV, United States 07-13-14 Member Since 2006
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    "'Politically incorrect' but that's to be expected!"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHESTER LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-22-14
    CHESTER LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-22-14 Member Since 2007

    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.

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    "WORLD TRAVEL"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reuel South Bend, IN, United States 10-29-12
    Reuel South Bend, IN, United States 10-29-12 Member Since 2010

    drj

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    "Twain raises expectations, unmet"

    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.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Ian
    Nuneaton, United Kingdom
    11/10/13
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    "Excellent early-ish stuff"

    A fascinating survey of France, the Mediterranean and Asia Minor in the late 1860s. It's the little snap-shots that provide most pleasure. The pen-portraits of Napoleon III and Tsar Alexander II are worth setting again more standard historical summaries. There are, as might be expected, playful digs at aristocratic pretension and the dirt, laziness and corruption of many ordinary people, but Twain is similarly unforgiven about some of his own countrymen. The Crimean War is referred to on occasion, but it is interesting to note the lack of real reference to the more recent American Civil War in a work that relies on building parallels for readers back in the USA – readers who understood the copious Biblical and classical allusions more than their more counterparts.. There is throughout a balance between naive expectation and ultimate disappointment, which will speak to many a tourist who finds that guidebooks and popular imagery often distort a more prosaic reality. I personally preferred his subsequent "A Tramp Abroad" on Germany and Switzerland, though the range of discussion is broader here. The reading in this version is faultless.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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