A matchless eye with an acidic pen - Americas post-Civil War years brought a renewed interest in the European scene. Journeys known as Grand Tours led tourists to take ship to the Continent. They fanned out across the landscape with the intent to know Europe. Their return home resulted in a flurry of published accounts. Twain satirizes both the tourists and their writings with delicious wit. Ever a man to play with words, his tramp refers to both himself and the walking tour of Europe he purports to have made. By the time youve reached the end of the account of the walking tour incorporating trains, carriages and barges, you realize that the longest walk Twain took occurred in dark hotel room while trying to find his bed. He claims to have covered 47 miles wandering around the room.
Twain was interested in everything, probing into both well-known and obscure topics. His judgments are vividly conveyed in this book, standing in marked contrast to his more reserved approach in Innocents Abroad. A delightful overview of mid-19th Century Europe, Tramp is also interlaced with entertaining asides. Twain was deeply interested in people, and various types are drawn from his piercing gaze, rendered with acerbic wit. Some of these are contemporary, while others are dredged from his memories of the California mines and other journeys. He also relished Natures marvels, recounting his observations. A favourite essay is What Stumped the Blue-jays. A nearly universal bird in North America, Twains description of the jays curiosity and expressive ability stands unmatched. He observes such humble creatures as ants, Alpine chamois, and the American tourist. Few escape his perception or his scathing wit. This book remains valuable for its timeless rendering of characters and the universality of its view. It can be read repeatedly for education or entertainment.
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