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Mark Twain

On Europe

On Europe

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‘In a little while we were speeding through the streets of Paris and delightfully recognizing certain names and places with which books had long ago made us familiar. It was like meeting an old friend when we read Rue de Rivoli on the street corner; we knew the genuine vast palace of the Louvre as well as we knew its picture; when we passed by the Column of July we needed no one to tell us what it was or to remind us that on its site once stood the grim Bastille, that grave of human hopes and happiness...’

This is a brand new selection of Mark Twain’s views on Europe and the Europeans, taken from several volumes of travelogues recounting his journeys across the continent with wit, vivacity and humour. Few fellow travellers, locals or ideologies are left unscathed. Uproariously funny at times and often cutting with his remarks, Twain always seems to pull it back from the brink and err on the side humour rather than offence. Throughout France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, the food, the language, the customs and the people, no subject escapes analysis of the most amusing kind.

In addition, On Europe provides a captivating snapshot into life late nineteenth-century Europe – Twain’s writing documents the political zeitgeist of a changing era. The author also takes the opportunity to lambast fellow travel writers, lampooning their overwrought style and grandiose emotional outpourings. Following the age-old tradition of new-world travellers returning to the old world, Twain’s account features the usual blend of awe and disillusionment which met Americans in equal measure when confronted with lands so steeped in history and legend and yet now in the grip of modernity.

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