Daven's Reviews > The Innocents Abroad

The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
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's review
Apr 18, 2012

really liked it
Read from April 18 to May 11, 2012

This travelogue would never, ever make it to wide release in 2012; at the least, there would be outcry of political inappropriateness, and possibly further, a holy war declared. Twain's disdain for organized religion does not bleed into his reverence for Anglo-Christian tradition and faith. But his vicious observations on the peoples and places of the Middle East / "Holy Land" are jarring. Once winces at the irreverance, and these commentaries' relic-like status cannot lift them from sinking to a level of a "white man's burden" mentality.

This is my gut take-away from these 560 pages. If anything, this is worth reading for what it says about the times in which Twain wrote. I enjoyed the classic wry Twain humor and the clever signifying of the thinly-veiled fiction of the Church's laity and clerics (e.g. nails of the Cross viewed with reverence at nearly every roadside shrine from Italy through Palestine, indentations in the stone walls from "our Savior's elbows" as he stumbled Cross-burdened through the roads of Jerusalem).

Ultimately, it's all about the sights of a whirlwind journey through the Mediterranean and the Holy Land. And although an engaging narrative, momentarily setting aside the teeth-on-age racism, my problem rests in that I spent "months" with this crew of pilgrims, and other than the narrator, didn't truly know a single one of them other than as caricatures.

I'm happy that I read this, as I gained valuable insights on the mid-19th century American tunnel-vision of a multicultural world . . . and enjoyed more than a few laughs-out-loud at Twain's unique voice.

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Reading Progress

04/18/2012 page 85
15.0% "Fully enjoying chuckling away at a wonderfully-read CD production of this. Twain's sly observations of people and their customs remains relevant over a century later."
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