the innocents abroad
It was ’round about this time, in 1867, that Mark Twain set out on his grand tour of Europe and the Middle East. The letters he wrote, to be published in papers back home, became the basis for a book.
Hemingway, whom I’m slowly falling in love with again, once said that all modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain – Huckleberry Finn – but I’ve always maintained you haven’t read Twain until you’ve read his essays and letters. The Innocents Abroad is as good a place to start as any…
“Speaking of our pilgrims reminds me that we have one or two people among us who are sometimes an annoyance. However, I do not count the Oracle in that list. I will explain that the Oracle is an innocent old ass who eats for four and looks wiser than the whole Academy of France would have any right to look, and never uses a one-syllable word when he can think of a longer one, and never by any possible chance knows the meaning of any long word he uses or ever gets it in the right place……We don’t mind the Oracle. We rather like him. We can tolerate the Oracle very easily, but we have a poet and a good-natured enterprising idiot on board, and they do distress the company.” – Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad