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)
My goal is to write a review of everything I've listened to, but I'm woefully behind. Wish I would have kept up. I'm a writer!
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.
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.
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.
All the terrific anecdotes about how the Americans interact with the Europeans. And the hilarious problems with language and guides.
How they would rename all their guides to "Fergusen"
Hadn't heard him before but he was wonderful.
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.
This book is a wonderful historical trip to Europe and the Middle East. The best of any travel Log I have read
Mark Twain, as it is written in the first person.
The Reader makes it alive, as if you are right there
Many moments were laughable as well he has very interesting comments about the times
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.
It did drag on or ramble at times, but that's Twain.
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.
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.
"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.
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