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The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims' Progress is a travel book by American author Mark Twain, published in 1869, which humorously chronicles what Twain called his "Great Pleasure Excursion" on board the chartered vessel Quaker City (formerly USS Quaker City), through Europe and the Holy Land, with a group of American travelers in 1867. It was the best-selling of Twain's works during his lifetime, as well as one of the best-selling travel books of all time. A major theme of the book, insofar as a book can have a theme when assembled and revised from the newspaper columns Twain sent back to America as the journey progressed, is that of the conflict between history and the modern world; the narrator continually encounters petty profiteering and trivializations of history as he journeys, as well as a strange emphasis placed on particular past events, and is either outraged, puzzled, or bored by the encounter. One example can be found in the sequence during which the boat has stopped at Gibraltar. On shore, the narrator encounters seemingly dozens of people intent on regaling him, and everyone else, with a bland and pointless anecdote concerning how a particular hill nearby acquired its name, heedless of the fact that the anecdote is, indeed, bland, pointless, and entirely too repetitive. Another example may be found in the discussion of the story of Abelard and Heloise, where the skeptical American deconstructs the story and comes to the conclusion that far too much fuss has been made about the two lovers. Only when the ship reaches areas of the world that do not exploit for profit or bore passers-by with inexplicable interest in their history, such as the passage dealing with the ship's time at the Canary Islands, is this attitude not found in the text. Mount Tabor "stands solitary .. in a] silent plain .. a desolation .. we never saw a human being on the whole route .. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country" Mark Twain, 1867 This reaction to those who profit from the past is found, in an equivocal and unsure balance with reverence, in the section of the book that deals with the ship's company's experiences in the Holy Land. The narrator reacts here, not only to the exploitation of the past and the unreasoning (to the American eye of the time) adherence to old ways, but also to the profanation of religious history. Many of his illusions are shattered, including his discovery that the nations described in the Old Testament could easily fit inside many American states and counties, and that the "kings" of those nations might very well have ruled over fewer people than could be found in some small towns. This equivocal reaction to the religious history the narrator encounters may be magnified by the prejudices of the time, as the United States was still primarily a Protestant nation at that point. The Catholic Church, in particular, receives a considerable amount of attention from the narrator, specifically its institutionalized nature. This is particularly apparent in the section of the book dealing with Italy, where the poverty of the lay population and the relative affluence of the church causes the narrator to urge the inhabitants-in the text of the book, if not directly-to rob their priests.
About the Author
Mark Twain, whose real name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens, born November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri, United States, and died April 21, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut, is a writer, And American humorist. After a career as a military officer, a printer and a journalist with miners in Nevada, he became known through his novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and his sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). A child of the Border Mark Twain comes from a long-established family on the American continent, whose trajectory has married the pioneer front drawn by settlers. Twain's childhood environment is therefore the world of the American "Border". However, the Clemens family, like Twain himself when he reached adulthood, did not count among the adventurers and clearing people who had set out in the vanguard of the colonization movement towards the West. It slipped into the wake of this vast population movement and settled on land already worked by settlers where social life is already relatively stable. His mother, Jane Lampton, was born in Kentucky in a family that is probably one of the first generations of pioneers to cross the Appalachian Mountains; The family legend lends him a distant ancestry with the Lampton, dukes of Durham. The paternal branch of the family is native to the South of the country. His grandfather, a farmer in Virginia, migrated to Kentucky in the early 19th century to become a commissioner of revenue. Twain's father, John Marshall Clemens, studied law in the East and returned to Adair County (Kentucky) where he married Jane Lampton in 1823. He served as an attorney and ran his life After fortune. His quest takes him successively to Tennessee, Gainesboro and then to Jamestown in Fentress County, Tennessee where he invests his savings in 75,000 acres of land. The small number of cases of justice to treat pushes it to the reconversion: it becomes a merchant, opening a store of general supply, typical of the border. He tries his luck in several localities of Tennessee and then joins John Adams Quarles, his wife's brother-in-law, in Missouri on the advice of the latter. The village of Florida (Monroe County) in which the family settles is the scene of the birth of Samuel Langhorn Clemens, the fifth child of the family.