Monday, June 15, 2009

The Tramping Twain

26. A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain

I really read this because a) it's Mark Twain, but b) the book I found in my school's library is the ORIGINAL EDITION with what looks like an inscription by the man himself, but must be printed, I guess. I want to steal it, even though it is kind of falling apart. I'm really surprised it's available for loan, I feel like it must be valuable. Though there is a hell of a lot of Mark Twain's oeuvre flying about the antique books world.

I even took it to Revere Beach this weekend, where I decided a nice read on my towel would be preferable to the water. The waves looked good, but I was chilly from my vantage point.

This is Twain's rant on his "pedestrian" tour of Europe. He is all about the personal touch, it's more a catalog of his experiences than a guidebook, but it's somehow still not incredibly insightful into him as a person. Which I am okay with. Twain uses his dry humor, usually effectively, to talk about the people he meets and travels with.

I learned a lot about a very few aspects of European culture at the time. He spends a few chapters on his observations of student duellists in Germany, the ceremony of a French duel, and a memorable chapter on his insomnia. He seized within me a desire to see the Lion of Lucerne, and provided me with a list of castles to check out in Germany and Switzerland. However, I feel that I must take everything he says with a grain of salt.

He purports to give his readers many examples of local folk tales and songs, many of which I suspect he invented. So, of the sights he saw, I am skeptical of what is real or not. I suppose it's worth looking up.

Any bona fide Mark Twain fan will gobble this up, and perhaps elder travelers will appreciate a chance to laugh at themselves. Still, this isn't for everyone, it's a little too dry in places and has no plot to keep it going.

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