|"Mark Twain was already a famous author when he undertook a journey from the United States to Europe, the Middle East, and Hawaii, and he had long-ago demonstrated his journalistic skills. When he proposed that a major newspaper underwrite the proposed journey in exchange for weekly reports of the expedition, the newspaper jumped at the offer. Later, Twain published these accounts of his travels, as the semi-autobiographical, partly fictional book, "The Innocents Abroad." His accounts of his travels are typically outlandish and hilarious, and provide a great deal of interesting and, at times, penetrating, observations about class, culture, society, traditions, art, and justice. He travels to Europe upon a steamer. He is careful to compare his own observations and experiences of the famous sites that he visits with those in a popular guidebook of his day. The guidebook almost always comes off poorly, providing highly dubious descriptions of famous landmarks and exhibits. Twain's stand-in, the book's narrator and main character, causes much mischief by sticking to the facts or playing the innocent fool when he is shown monumental works of art by Michelangelo and others, declaring haughtily, for example, that he and the other tourists are not impressed by centuries-old artifacts created by people who have been dead for centuries. Ending his trip in the Sandwich Islands, as Hawaii was known at the time, Twain offers some amusing observations about the islanders before completing his journey and returning to the continental United States. Twain has also written other accounts of his travels, both foreign and domestic, including "A Tramp Abroad" and "Roughing It," as well as an account of his years as a Mississippi riverboat pilot ("Life on the Mississippi")."
Gary Pullman, Resident Scholar