Topeka & Shawnee Co. Public Library discussion

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Literature with Lunch > The first funny travelogue? - Innocents Abroad

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Lissa (lissastaley) | 41 comments Mod
The Literature with Lunch group's book discussion of Innocents Abroad started out focused on how this book was just a little too long and repetitive. Two things helped us -- one was learning more about the "subscription book" industry in which books were sold through door-to-door agents and were moderately expensive, so the authors had to deliver something longer to be worth the extra cost. The second was when a new group member comments that non-fiction isn't like fiction reading -- it doesn't neccesarily built toward a conclusion and isn't always conducive to being read on a deadline. Reading just a section of this at a time would have made it more enjoyable, we all agreed. Others commented that hearing Twain tell the stories (or an audiobook) would have been more humourous, and several people gave up on reading the ebook in favor of the print edition. The original book had over 200 illustrations, and those who had illustrated reprints spoke highly of the additional enjoyment these gave the experience. Twain originally took his journey on the Quaker City (ship) to Europe and the Holy Land to write letters back to a San Francisco newspaper - he then turned those letters into both a humourous lecture tour and this book.
The best online resources about this book were found from the University of Virginia Etext site. http://etext.virginia.edu/railton/inn...
The Project Guterberg version is available with the original illustrations: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3176

The line from the Conclusion "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrowmindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts." sparked much discussion about whether travel was enough to accomplish all of this. Many people felt that the attitude and willingness that the traveler brings to the experience is just as important as the travel itself. Armchair travel with a williness to truly learn and explore a new place or culture may also serve to decrease prejudice, bigotry and narrowmindedness.

Have you read Innocents Abroad? Share your thoughts here!


Kelli (KelliSmith) | 170 comments Mod
I have not read this book but I strongly agree with the conclusion. I've traveled to a variety of countries as well as all over the United States. Depending on the region, you are exposed to so many different cultures and live that way of life for a short period of time... or at least I try. When I was in South America I worked with families that struggled everyday to make a living. I wouldn't say I walked a mile in their shoes exactly, but my eyes were definitely opened to many economic and agricultural issues they faced, their food, their religion, their folklore, and their festivals.


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