The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

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Contemporary audiences may call to mind The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when they think of Mark Twain, but it was Innocents Abroad that both predated and outsold both of them, and also inspired Twain to publish Roughing It, a travelogue from a previous trip he had taken across America.

The Innocents Abroad details a five-month voyage aboard a retired Civil War ship and its expedition of Europe and the Holy Land. Twain, though self-deprecating in things pertinent to himself, explores the theme of conflict between history and the emerging modern world. He identifies—and lampoons—things that may be all too familiar to travelers today: the outright profiteering of historical and cultural artifacts, or the over-infusion of meaning or story in areas where there isn't any.

One might argue that it was Twain's own observations of these themes—and how they are repeated by institutions—that laid the groundwork for his famed aforementioned miscreants.