The Innocents Abroad

  • by Mark Twain
  • Narrated by Grover Gardner
  • 18 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In June 1867, Mark Twain set out for Europe and the Holy Land on the paddle steamer Quaker City. His enduring, no-nonsense guide for the first-time traveler also served as an antidote to the insufferably romantic travel books of the period.
"Who could read the programme for the excursion without longing to make one of the party?"
So Mark Twain acclaims his voyage from New York City to Europe and the Holy Land. His adventures produced The Innocents Abroad, a book so funny and provocative it made him an international star for the rest of his life. He was making his first responses to the Old World-to Paris, Milan, Florence, Venice, Pompeii, Constantinople, Sebastopol, Balaklava, Damascus, Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem. For the first time he was seeing the great paintings and sculptures of the Old Masters. He responded with wonder and amazement but also with exasperation, irritation, and disbelief. Above all he displayed the great energy of his humor, more explosive for us now than for his beguiled contemporaries.

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What the Critics Say

"A classic work...[that] marks a critical point in the development of our literature." (Leslie A. Fiedler, literary critic)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Hilarious, but poignant

A peculiar fact about the most famous humourist of the 19th century is that of all his numerous works, it was the serious and even sentimental "Joan of Arc" that he was most proud of. This dichotomy between the merciless satirist and a man capable of deep empathy and enraged by social injustices is nowhere as apparent as in this travelogue.

Published in 1869, this book witnessed the period immediately succeeding one of the most tumultuous periods in European social history and Twain pulls no punches from his perspective of a more politically advanced and enlightened American citizen. He gets our laughs by ridiculing everything from great art ("some of us said that certain of the great works of the old masters were glorious creations of genius - we found it out in the guide-book, though we got hold of the wrong picture sometimes") to the trade in relics (of the Holy Cross: "I would not like to be positive, but I think we have seen as much as a keg of these nails"), but then immediately offers a moving description of the abjectly poor Italian masses, forced to beg in the streets.while the Roman church hoards gold and flogs holy trinkets to tourists. This work is as much a short introduction to the 19th century European politics as it is a hilarious road trip through the Old World.

Gardner's narration is wonderfully suited to Twain's mix of laughs and poignancy. His comic timing and delivery are impeccable - sometimes his narration is so dry, that you have to rewind to make sure that he really just said what you think he did. Gardner appreciates that this is Twain's gig and the text is strong enough to stand on its own without any 'nudge, nudge' encouragements from the narrator, so the laughs remain unexpected and fresh and you don't see many of them coming even after you have listened to most of the book.

Word of advice - be careful about listening to this on public transport if you have a tendency to snort.
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- Anfisa "Nuf-Nuf"

Marky Mark

What did you like most about The Innocents Abroad?

If you've ever been to any of these cities, try some mental compare and contrasting. It's interesting to note how much/little changes.


Who was your favorite character and why?

Mark. He's pretty much the only constant character.


Which scene did you most enjoy?

I loved most of the bits in the holy land.


If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

There and back again


Any additional comments?

He's incredibly sarcastic (I think?) about everywhere. Be warned if you hate sarcasm.

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- Ian

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-09-2011
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.