Book Review: “A Tramp Abroad” by Mark Twain

This time we want to present you a real classic. A Tramp Abroad (German: Bummel durch Europa) is a partly fictitious and satirical travelogue by Mark Twain and was published in 1880.

It is based on Mark Twain’s trip through central Europe (Germany, the Alps and northern Italy) with his friend Harris, who is based on his real life friend Joseph Twichell.

The book describes their way from north to south. Initially they wanted to make all the way by foot but throughout the trip they are discovering new means of transportation. The first-person narrator (Mark Twain himself) is personated as a typical American tourist in the 19th century; pretending to understand anything happening but in reality he doesn’t.

A lot of peculiarities of the Europeans, especially Germans and Swiss, are pointed out throughout the book. The mixture of the American tourist discovering and exploring all those things that are new for him and the will to discover everything interesting on his route is making the book one of the most entertaining I’ve ever read, even if it’s not a modern travelogue. Awkward and humorous situations such as when he wants to make a basic mountain hike but makes it up like a huge and expensive expedition with numerous alpine guides and entourage are another point why.

Mark Twain has also added some German legends in between his stories as they are mostly describing the things he sees and the circumstances he comes upon while his travels.

In the end of the book he has added some short essays such as his famous essay “The awful German language”, a description of German newspapers (both held in satirical style) and the story of “The legend of the castle”.

If you are looking for a good and entertaining book to read while travelling, at the beach or just while enjoying your tea at home, this might be exactly what you are looking for. Be aware that this book will make you chuckle many times, entertain you with adventures but won’t let you down with boring descriptions.

The book is available by FQ Books in English language for example, the German translation is published on the Anaconda Verlag.

Happy reading and home you’ll like it!

Hendrik

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