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Mark Twain is undisputedly one of the most prolific writers of all times. With an uncanny inability to see things as they were combined with an exceptional sense of humor, Twain's popularity transcended time and space. While all his writings left some impression on the readers, his travel books were so outstanding that they created a genre of their own. "The Innocents Abroad" and "A tramp abroad" were two important books that belonged to this genre with "A Tramp Abroad" being the less popular of the two. If Tramp was less successful than Innocents, it was primarily due to Twain's setting of standards with his other travelogues.
If ever an attempt to compare and contrast the two books is made, it is highly recommended that we start with the Innocents. The reason for this is obvious. 'Innocents' came before Tramp made its appearance and was definitely the more celebrated of the two books. 'Innocents' was derived from Alta letters but significantly changes were made to mitigate traces of resemblance with the source. New sections appeared which included the one on Paris and Egypt and the Sphinx. Apart from that, in this book his audience was the more sophisticated people on the Eastern side which was one reason why Twain removed coarse phrases such as "slimy cesspool" and "bawdy house" that appeared all too often in Alta letters. In Innocents which, is actually about Twain's highly disappointing trip to Europe, the author also tried to use expressions and comments that would appear less harsh even if the intent was just as cunning. For example in talking about the pilgrimages and the Holy Land, Twain was more careful since he was hoping to reach an audience that preferred sophisticated commentary and did not appreciate religion being the target of humor or satire. The theme of the book was clear from its sub-title that read "The New Pilgrims' Progress."
Innocents' popularity is grounded in the structure of the book. The entire book has a sense of shape and design that makes it much better that the succeeding Tramp that lacked structure and was too loose to keep the readers interested. Innocents on the other hand boasted a design that gave book its strength and its theme was made clear from the very beginning when Twain wrote that the book suggested "to the reader how he would be likely to see Europe and the East if he looked at them with his own eyes instead of the eyes of those who had traveled in those countries before him." The fact that Twain presented a funny picture of Europe is all too obvious, what is however even more interesting in the reality that's hidden in his often blatantly satirical observations. Twain's main purpose was to highlight the fact that reality is often different from our expectations.
The disappointment, the sudden bursting of excitement bubble, the disbelief that reality could actually be so ordinary were some of the things that Twain talked about in this book. He explains that nothing that he saw in Europe was what it was made out to be. The Parisian gardens, or the Arabian stables or the Holy Land itself were all nothing but misinterpreted products created by false stories yearning and anticipation. Twain felt that even Jesus Christ wouldn't want to visit the Holy Land again since it was so disappointingly ordinary. The author gets a sense of revenge by exploring and denouncing the myths surrounding Europe:
After years of waiting, it was before me at last. The great face was so sad, so earnest, so longing, so patient. There was a dignity not of earth in its mien, and in its countenance a benignity such as never anything human wore. It was stone, but it seemed sentient. If ever image of stone thought, it was thinking. It was looking toward the verge of the landscape, yet looking at nothing -- nothing but distance and vacancy. It was looking over and beyond everything of the present, and far into the past. It was gazing out over the ocean of Time -- over lines of century-waves which, further and further receding, closed nearer and nearer together, and blended at last into one unbroken tide, away toward the horizon of remote antiquity. It was thinking of the wars…[continue]
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