"Now, the true charm of pedestrianism does not lie in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking. The walking is good to time the movement of the tongue by, and to keep the blood and the brain stirred up and active; the scenery and the woodsy smells are good to bear in upon a man an unconscious and unobtrusive charm and solace to eye and soul and sense; but the supreme pleasure comes from the talk. It is no matter whether one talks wisdom or nonsense, the case is the same..."
A Tramp Abroad (1880) is Twain's travelogue of a walking trip along the German side of the Rhine, through the Swiss Alps, and down to northern Italy, Turin and Milan. He walks with his 'agent,' Mr. Harris, loosely based on the Congregationalist minister Joseph Twichell.
Except it's a ongoing joke in the book how little walking they do. They're going to walk up the Neckar valley to see a castle, but then take the train; they're going to walk up to their hotel in Switzerland, a pleasant three hour stroll, except it takes them two days and still they cadge a ride for part of it; finally they get to the top of Mont Blanc--by telescope.
There is a lot of wonderfully jokey travelogue, but that's not Twain's only mode. Twain shows a sociologist's interest in the custom of student duelling at Heidelberg, goes to watch matches and interviews participants; he's also seriously interested in Alpine ascents, even if he only makes his own by telescope. He quotes from various accounts, including Whymple's first summiting of the Matterhorn only fifteen years earlier.
There are also embedded tales, both contemporary and retellings of fairytales, such as you might expect from the author of 'The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.'
Nothing gives such weight and dignity to a blog post as an Appendix.
The Art of Mark Twain
Or really, the drawing of Mark Twain, because The Art of Mark Twain was probably already written by some professor at Columbia in 1935 ("We see from Twain's treatment of the oppressed chambermaid on p. 109-110 of volume 13 of the so-called National edition, his incipient critique of the late-stage capitalist economy...") and is hardly going to appear in my blog post. But consider:
Yet another entry for the:
Post a Comment