A Tramp Abroad
“Nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people.” Mark Twain in a letter, dated May 18th, 1867
They say that books can take you anywhere. Reading is a great way to visit far away places, without having to move an inch. I always want to go everywhere I read about.
Mark Twain is considered to be one of the great writers of the nineteenth century. I read Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in school. There was way too much class discussion about youth, naivete, racisim, fence painting and Becky Thatcher for a twelve year old girl to relate to.
What I did not know, was that Mark Twain also wrote non fiction and was one of the first travel writers. In the 1880’s he wrote books about travel: The Innocents Abroad , Roughing It, A Tramp Abroad, Following The Equator and Some Rambling Notes of An Idle Excursion.
I was told about a Tramp Abroad and wanted to read it. It was free on Apple Books and Kindle. I did not have high hopes for a book that they were giving away.
The book is about Mark Twain’s travels through Europe “on foot,” except that he takes every available opportunity to do anything other than walk. He travels by boat, raft, donkey, carriage, train, etc. Twain has little patience for the standard requirements of travel literature. He dispatches with Baden-Baden, for instance, in a single sentence: “It is an inane town, filled with sham, and petty fraud, and snobbery, but the baths are good.”
The story is a bit scattered and there are a few too many wordy passages describing mountain ranges, but it is so funny. It contains some good information mixed up with many amusing anecdotes that lampoon just about everyone. His sharp commentary on society, culture and American tourists in Europe is still relevant over a century later.
No traveler, whether today or in Twain’s time, would gain any practical benefit from hauling this not short story on a trip. It is not an essential Twain book but should be because it’s educational, informative, and very entertaining. I am loving it.