Karen / Nonfiction / Travel Writing

The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

innocents-abroadThe non-fiction book group’s selection this quarter was the classic The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain. There has always been debate in the library world as to whether this book is non-fiction (travelogue) or fiction. It is a true story, but it seems pretty clear Twain embellished quite a bit in his writing. Does anyone mind that he did? For example, could all of the outlandish people he claims to have met be real? Was travel really that easy back in the late 1860s? Were his descriptions accurate of the Middle East, as well as Europe? These are the questions the members wanted answers to.

If you’ve never had the pleasure, this is the story of Twain’s cruise to the Holy Land. It is never fully explained why he wanted to make this trip; apparently it was “the thing to do” in those times. Of course, it was expensive and a bit dangerous, going into the unknown. But just like today, being fashionable is very, very important.

In our opinion, the destinations were not the story. The story was how Twain saw it.

We all thought Twain was his usual amusing self with his observations of the places and people he encountered. So sarcastic! But we all agree that is what makes this book (as well as his others) appealing.

Karen

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