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Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
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Joan of Arc (1896)

by Mark Twain

Other authors: Louis de Conte (Pseudonym)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 35 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
I read this book during college in the ‘90s after finding it in the stacks on a search for a forgotten topic. Having been raised Catholic, I knew all the major saints stories including Joan of Arc who I considered one of the cool ones. Most of the stories I read came from saint’s cards or booklets from the church. When I saw Twain’s book, I felt shock at his writing her story and, along with a large dictionary, read the book in a couple of days.

I recently reread the book to determine if my impressions of it would remain. While it’s not a perfect book, his scholarship and details create images of the places and people that evoke an emotional response. His descriptions of how she understands her voices helps to understand her. It also helps to understand how those voices drove her to such an incredible leadership position at that time and in that place. Twain keeps her fury through the book, which is remarkable considering when he was writing.

I wondered why Twain wrote this book. What compelled him to write a somber book about a furious Catholic girl who died as a heretic? To me, in the pre-Internet era, Twain’s obsession with Joan of Arc was a big riddle. While he had published two books set in midieval Europe, this book differed considerably in tone and topic. Twain wrote it as personal recollections sourced from the trial transcripts and a history of France. I read the story through my feminist lenses as a strong, resolute woman who never backs down even in the face of an incredibly painful and public death.

In a strange coincidence, a local call-in radio show was hosting a Twain scholar not too long after I read the book. He said he did not expect a question about that book. I didn’t expect him to tell me that Twain viewed Joan differently than I did. In Twain’s narrative, Joan’s virtue, her youth and subsequent purity, appealed to Twain and in later years he would rail against those who portrayed her as a stout, almost masculine figure. He said that Twain was in a period in which he increasingly valued innocence and came to saw it embodied in young women.

I still find the book remarkable no matter the intent of the author. We see our historical “heroes” as we want to see them. Twain valued her for her purity in the face of unrelenting suffering. I value her for her integrity and incredible courage. It’s a remarkable book. ( )
  tafergus70 | Apr 2, 2019 |
I think ol' man Sawyer got in a ways over his head with this one, but I'll give him five stars anyway just for having the gumption to try it. ( )
  NathanielPoe | Mar 6, 2019 |
Joan of Arc was Mark Twain's favorite historic figure, and it shows here in this historic fiction version of Joan's life. Fawning phrases such as "...she was such a vision of young bloom and beauty and grace..." are consistent throughout this novel. Just too gushing for me, even though the writing basics were solid. ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Sep 7, 2017 |
This book tells the story of Joan of Arc as narrated by a fellow soldier and life-long friend. You cannot read this book without being moved at how God's grace moves people beyond any common human capacity. In this book we see a human being, a youth who shows forth heroic virtue beyond any imagining. She is always devoted to loving God and faithful to her religion. At the same time she is courageous, being true to herself and her calling while being faithful to her friends and showing kindness toward her enemies. We see her beautiful bright character shine forth even when her earthly King betrays her unto death. The marvel of all this is that she is illiterate - yet always precise in speaking with eloquence to all manner of people - whether noble or simple soldier - all the while being a mere youth, never seeing her 20th birthday. Her ambitions: never selfish - but to restore France's sovereignty to the rightful king and return home to her family, to the the life of a common shepherd. France ultimately regains self-rule after Joan's martyrdom with fire at the stake.
  allenkeith | Jun 11, 2017 |
19th century American American literature biography Catholic classic classics fiction France hardcover historical historical fiction history humor Joan of Arc Kindle literature Mark Twain medieval Middle Ages non-fiction novel read religion saint saints to-read Twain unread war
  Shepherdbooks | Jan 8, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Twain, Markprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Conte, Louis dePseudonymsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pyle, HowardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0898702682, Paperback)

Very few people know that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote a major work on Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important but also his best work. He spent twelve years in research and many months in France doing archival work and then made several attempts until he felt he finally had the story he wanted to tell. He reached his conclusion about Joan's unique place in history only after studying in detail accounts written by both sides, the French and the English.

Because of Mark Twain's antipathy to institutional religion, one might expect an anti-Catholic bias toward Joan or at least toward the bishops and theologians who condemned her. Instead one finds a remarkably accurate biography of the life and mission of Joan of Arc told by one of this country's greatest storytellers. The very fact that Mark Twain wrote this book and wrote it the way he did is a powerful testimony to the attractive power of the Catholic Church's saints. This is a book that really will inform and inspire.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:05 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Regarded by many as the most luminous example of Twain's work, this historical novel chronicles the French heroine's life, as purportedly told by her longtime friend ? Sieur Louis de Cont. A panorama of stirring scenes recount Joan's childhood in Domremy, the story of her voices, the fight for Orleans, the splendid march to Rheims, and much more.… (more)

» see all 10 descriptions

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