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A tramp abroad by Mark Twain
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A tramp abroad (original 1880; edition 1880)

by Mark Twain

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7261012,927 (3.87)34
Member:AlfredDeakin
Title:A tramp abroad
Authors:Mark Twain
Info:London : Chatto & Windus, 1880.
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Novels, Wilfred's Room

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A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain (1880)

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English (9)  German (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
A quirky little book. Some very clever Twain humorous observations. Other parts quite bland. It was written (or he gathered material) while he was traveling with his family in Europe (mainly Germany and Switzerland) 1878-9. He makes some amusing observations about the German language, even recommendations on how to simplify it. ( )
  GeoffSC | May 31, 2015 |
A Tramp Abroad gives an account of one of Mark Twain's journeys through Europe. It is one of the author's travelogues in which he shares his observations while 'tramping' through Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy. 'Tramping' here includes the ascent of Mont Blanc by telescope. With a book as this you cannot really tell what exactly it is about apart from saying what I just said. You'd either have to tell it all or just leave it. I decided to leave it for the interested readers to explore. Just imagine an American traveling through Europe at the end of the 19th century.

To my mind there are certain things that make this book an interesting, if unconventional, read. First, there is Twain's gift for humorous depictions of people and places. Twain manages to tell his stories in a lighthearted fashion that actually makes you laugh out loud at times. Second, A Tramp Abroad contains various drawings made by the author himself to support his stories with some sort of 'proof'. Those drawings further contribute to the satirical way this book is written in. Eventually I have to say that I liked how Twain constantly tries to convince the reader of the truthfulness of what he's telling. At numerous points in the book, the author uses footnotes to heighten his credibility. There is even an appendix to fit in all the accounts Twain could not get into his main narrative. This last aspect is somewhat ironic as the main narrative is just an unconnected telling of stories in which the narrator often digresses into things that are only remotely relevant to his story. To give potential readers some idea of what I especially liked about this book and about Mark Twain in general I chose some quotations that I find quite revealing as to Twain's style. Personally, I think Twain is a genius.

I have since found out there is nothing the Germans like so much as an opera. They like it, not in a mild and moderate way, but with their whole hearts. This is a legitimate result of habit and education. Our nation will like the opera, too, by and by, no doubt. One in fifty of those who attend our operas likes it already, perhaps, but I think a good many of the other forty-nine go in order to learn to like it, and the rest in order to be able to talk knowingly about it. The latter usually hum the airs while they are being sung, so that their neighbors may perceive that they have been to operas before. The funerals of these do not occur often enough.
(on opera visits, p. 50)

The Germans are exceedingly fond of Rhine wines; they are put up in tall, slender bottles and are considered a pleasant beverage. One tells them from vinegar by the label.
(on German wine, p. 84)

Now, in the end I was not sure how to rate this book in terms of stars. A Tramp Abroad is certainly an interesting and funny read. However, I think to really enjoy it you have to have been in one of the countries that are depicted in the book or have some knowledge about Germany and Switzerland. Otherwise, you just would not enjoy the book that much, I assume. Living in Germany, though, I find the book highly recommendable. Finally a note on the reading experience. A book with little above 400 pages that is divided into 50 chapters and an appendix is nothing like the usual reading experience you have with novels. But then again A Tramp Abroad is not a novel. So you might need some time to get used to the structure of the book. It is more like some fifty plus separate stories as Twain usually tells more than one story per chapter. All things considered, I would rate the book with 3.5 stars. ( )
1 vote OscarWilde87 | Feb 4, 2014 |
ebook
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
"A Tramp Abroad", like any dated satire, is made difficult to appreciate when society is no longer innundated with the thing being satirized; in this case, 19th century travelogues from Americans travelling abroad who used a narrow lens to arrive at their impression of other cultures. Consequently I had no idea when he was kidding or not. To understand Europe in the later 1800s you'll have to seek elsewhere. Did German students pointlessly duel to the point of mutilating each other (doubtful)? Could a ship actually navigate the entire length of a winding river by dragging a chain through its belly (maybe...)? I had less patience for the chapters that were too obviously false from start to finish, like his tackling the Matterhorn.

It worked best when I read each chapter as if it were a blog entry. That format would have suited Mark Twain admirably. While I was reading his travelogue in this way, I didn't mind that the chapters felt like a mostly disconnected series of episodes, some about what he saw and did on his travels, some digressing into retelling the legends he picked up, personal foibles, etc. Then I was able to fully enjoy the obvious kidding, his talent for description, and be amused with wondering how much was farce and what was fact (is there a study guide that sorts this out?). Less frequently, it felt like the days when someone invited you over to see a slideshow of their trip. Then it was someone naddering on and on about where he went, what he did, look how beautiful this bit of scenery is, here's a shot of a person we met and let me tell you her life story, etc.

There's no denying Twain's skill for telling any kind of story about anything. A blog by Mark Twain would have had me reading daily and, sure, even an invitation to a Mark Twain slideshow would win my attendance. I'm not sure this book is the best way to sample him, but it is a way, and you'll definitely obtain a sense of his style. Remember to read the often quoted appendices relating to Heidelberg Castle, and the German language. ( )
  Cecrow | Jan 10, 2013 |
1/4 brilliant and hilarious. 1/4 wry and sometimes sophomoric puns and gags. 1/4 repetitive attempts at humor. 1/4 late 19th century travelogue. The French dueling description was a scream and the observation of German students (hacking each other up during fencing challenges) was spot-on accurate. 'Well worth the time it took to get through all this, from the perfect side story and behavioral description of a Blue Jay, all the way through the appendices.

I love Mark Twain and this is one of his better works. ( )
  Sandydog1 | Jul 20, 2012 |
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One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Europe on foot.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140436081, Paperback)

Nearly nine decades after his death, Mark Twain remains an international icon. His white-maned, mustachioed image is instantly identifiable throughout the world, the very picture of probity and high spirits (which explains why he's become the poster boy for products as diverse as beer, billiard tables, sewing machines, pizza, and real estate). Perhaps more importantly, Twain's books have retained all their power to amuse and enrage. How is it possible for the creator of a 19th-century "boy's holiday book" (Twain's own description of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) to raise so many contemporary hackles? The answer is that Twain is a contemporary writer. Not, of course, from a chronological point of view--he was born in Missouri in 1835 and died in 1910 (having insisted that "annihilation has no terrors for me"). But Twain was the first writer to elevate the American vernacular to a high art. Sidestepping the starched-shirt diction of his peers, he created an idiom that resembled (but did not precisely duplicate) the wayward, slangy, ungrammatical music of American conversation. No serious reader of Twain will want to do without the Oxford Mark Twain. This 29-volume leviathan includes not only the major works but also a treasure trove of essays and short pieces, many of them unavailable for decades. Throw in the introductions to each volume (by such heavyweights as Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, Cynthia Ozick, Gore Vidal, George Plimpton, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Walter Mosley), as well as the original illustrations, and you've got the book bargain of the millennium.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:44 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In April 1878, Mark Twain and his family traveled to Europe. Overloaded with creative ideas, Twain had hoped that the sojourn would spark his creativity enough to bring at least one of the books in his head to fruition. Instead, he wrote of his walking tour of Europe, describing his impressions of the Black Forest, the Matterhorn, and other attractions. Neglected for years, A Tramp Abroad sparkles with Twain's shrewd observations and highly opinionated comments on Old World culture and showcases his unparalleled ability to integrate humorous sketches, autobiographical tidbits, and historical anecdotes in a consistently entertaining narrative. Cast in the form of a walking tour through Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, and England, A Tramp Abroad includes among its adventures a voyage by raft down the Neckar and an ascent of Mont Blanc by telescope, as well as the author's attempts to study art?a wholly imagined activity Twain ?authenticated? with his own wonderfully primitive pictures. This book reveals Mark Twain as a mature writer and is filled with brilliant prose, insightful wit, and Twain's unerring instinct for the truth.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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