Paragraphs from Notices of this Book.
[These excerpts from newspaper reviews of Innocents Abroad were originally published by MT in the Buffalo Express (9 October 1869), then included at the end of the salesman's dummy edition of the book, under the title given above. Six notices of the lecture MT derived from the book were also published in the dummy, under the title "Opinions of the Press"; they are included here.]
From the Hartford (Ct.) Courant.
That the odd genius who described the "Jumping Frog," should go to see and describe the art-treasures of Europe and the ruins of Egypt and the Holy Land, has something in it very comical. Mark Twain is a true Californian, with the original, quaint humor of the Pacific; a very shrewd observer, not by any means unpoetical, but yet delighting to take the traditional poetry out of things. You may be sure that if he went to Italy or Jerusalem he would not idealize, but would try to photograph. His very exaggerations are all of the disenchanting sort, and are a very fair set-off to the usual rhapsodies of most tourists, who see what they have been educated to expect, and who have tradition so soaked into them that if they sat shivering in Naples in January, with snow in the streets and ice in the fountains, they would write home about sunny, delicious Italy. We doubt if the classic lands ever had exactly such a traveler through them as Mark Twain, who went out on the famous Quaker City excursion to the Holy Land, with a lot of passengers collected especially, it seemed to him, for the Holy Land, and this book is a dreadfully real, also a whimsical record of what they did and what they didn't do and see, with sketches of the pilgrims that all of them cannot regard with complacency. This record has been put into a large and handsomely printed volume of 651-pages, illustrated with two hundred and thirty-four cuts of various sorts, views from photographs, portraits, odd costumes, characters, scenes occurring on shipboard and on land, grave, funny, absurd, but a very good accompaniment to the text. The book has a great deal of entertainment in it. It has bits of excellent real description, and when Twain tries to reproduce a scene or describe a place, he does it with wonderful faithfulness. The author is not straining to be funny; he is not trying to make a joke book; and there is nothing in it of that painfully unnatural sort of wit that is so wearisome. Very few will be able to read it without laughing at least half the time. It may be absurd, but it certainly is funny. In the midst of the most serious passages, some quaint observation is dropped that has a good deal of the quality of the best humor. To attempt anything like a criticism of Mark Twain's peculiar humor, or to try to explain why it is that he is able to make people laugh in spite of themselves, is unnecessary now. The book is full of bright things, shrewd observations, that lurk here and there, and must be read with the context to be appreciated.
From the National (N.J.) Standard.
This is the raciest book we have met with for many a day. Much as we had expected to be pleased, we must truthfully say that we had no idea so much humor, wit, geniality, fine description and good sense, could be contained within the covers of any one book. It is a splendid book in every meaning of the word. It is readable, enjoyable, laughable; it is keen, satirical, comical, and funny; its descriptions are beautiful, and its style is unique, and not of a common stamp; its morals are of a high tone, and cannot be impeached; it will give the reader a new view of the countries and people that it describes, showing them upon a side never before exposed. It is not a book filled with caricature and stale jokes, but a clear, well-written volume upon most interesting subjects, yet viewing them from an entirely new stand-point, and portraying them in an original and characteristic manner. We turned over the pages, without selection of pieces, and commenced reading, and invariably in less than two minutes we were boiling over with laughter. Our sides ache, and we lay aside the volume to rest, and to advise our friends and readers, one and all, to buy the book at the first opportunity, and read it through. It is full of excellent illustrations, in fact, taken all in all, is the jolliest, pleasantest, most fascinating, and handsomest volume we know of.
From the Meriden (Ct.) Republican.
We hope our readers will purchase one new book just as soon as the Agent for this place shall put in an appearance. We refer to Mark Twain's new book entitled the "New Pilgrim's Progress." Mark Twain, always interesting, in this book has outrivaled himself. It is instructive, humorous, racy, full of quaint expressions that make you laugh unexpectedly, and before you are quite ready; critical, sometimes caustic, but always good natured; never prosy or wearisome. You begin the book and do not want to leave it till the last line is reached. Mark never describes a place, or sees a sight as others do. He is intensely original; and for us there is where the charm lies. It is a work permanently adapted for home reading aloud, and will invariably call up around the fireside a spirit of mirth and congeniality. No one can read its pages without feeling there is still beauty and sunshine in the world.
From the New York Express.
It is one of the most quaint and enjoyable books of travel that has been issued from the press. Certainly, Mark Twain succeeds in dispelling many of the old traditions which travelers have so long inflicted upon a confiding and long suffering public. He has gone over the ground with a genuine Yankee spirit, determining to see everything that is to be seen, to see it thoroughly and like a man of sense, to go into ecstacies [sic] over but few things, and to speak the plain, unvarnished truth under all circumstances. And this truth is told to us in such a winsome form, that we cannot but listen to it with agreeable sensations. Throughout runs an undercurrent of genuine native humor. Not what we are so apt to accept as such, and which is principally remarkable for its vulgarity and insipidity, but a real, crisp, tangible wit, that speaks in every line of the vitality, the vigorous honesty of the man, and of how fully he is imbued with all the better of the national characteristics. The book is a Golconda of wit and a very mine of sparkling entertainment.
From the Newark (N.J.) Register.
It is a rare and wonderful combination. The humor is natural, never forced; the narrative is instructive, and the descriptive passages are some of the finest in the English language, abounding in choice expressions and beautiful metaphor.
From the Winsted (Ct.) Herald.
The book opens richer and richer with every leaf you turn. The next best thing to having been one of this Holy Land excursion party, is to read this enchanting account of it. Indeed we guess the book will afford more enjoyment, in proportion to the cost, than did the trip itself. The book and the trip are just alike in one respect,--when you once get aboard you cannot get away from it. Perhaps, however, there will be no danger in accompanying the author as far as off Sandy Hook.
From the New York Leader.
Twain's irony is delicious and far-reaching; his facetious satire penetrates the very soul of appreciation. His drolleries are wickedly amusing. No one in full sympathy with humor can read Mark Twain's best things and not laugh heartily over them. Of course his latest work is his best, as it is his most elaborate effort.
From the Norwich Bulletin.
If people don't stop laughing so immoderately in the dead hours of the night as to keep their neighbors awake, there will probably be trouble, that's all. The cause is said to be Mark Twain's new book, which everybody is reading. But that is no excuse.
From the New York Herald.
The "Innocents Abroad" must be read to be thoroughly enjoyed. It is an oasis in the desert of works on foreign travel, with which we are deluged at the present day. We have read it through with pleasure, and if Mark Twain will do no worse in future efforts at Book Making, we will always heartily welcome him at our desk.
From the Mohawk Valley Register.
Buy it, and you will bless Mark Twain to the end of your existence.
From the Liberal Christian, N.Y.
It is the record of a party on a holiday excursion, and every page is touched with the mirth of the happy merry-makers, and in every paragraph you feel a giggle if you do not hear a laugh. Here are no homilies; no essays on politics, no discussion of philosophies, or art, or archaeology; yet the book preaches nevertheless, and is full of health and aglow with that cheerful, hopeful, wholesome religion which has so much faith that it does not fear to crack a joke or to make one. It tells a great deal that other and more serious writers consider it beneath their dignity to tell, and it keeps striking the spear-point of its shrewd Yankee common sense into the cracks and crevices of antique customs and institutions until we half expect a general tumbling down of European civilization upon the Pilgrims' heads.
From the New York Evening Post.
It contains many scenes of real merriment that few can read without laughter. The cleverness, frankness, and catholic spirit of the writer are everywhere apparent.
From the Central Baptist, St. Louis, Mo.
It abounds in historical and legendary lore, and written in the quaint and serio-comic strain peculiar to the author, will readily recommend itself to the public.
From the New York Tribune.
It is refreshing to find a tourist who does not care what other tourists have said before him. Mark Twain must be rated as the chief representative of that peculiar kind of humor whose principal elements are not bad spelling and verbal burlesque, for he does not practice these arts. The greater part of his book is pure fun, and its freshness is wonderfully well sustained.
From the True American, Trenton, N.J.
The work abounds in historical facts, descriptions of different countries and important personages, scenes and incidents, so bound together by wit, pleasantry and flashes of grotesque humor, as to make one of the most readable and amusing books of the period.
From the Providence (R.I.) Morning Herald.
He has described with his rare skill and in his best style, the adventures of the company, as well as his own, which are among the best things in the book. He has left the beaten path of tourists, and has never pretended an admiration which he did not feel, or which was yielded in obedience merely to invariable custom. He claims to adhere to the truth and to facts, and in his book has shorn many of the venerable shams of the old world of the false charms they have pretended. The stand-point of the traveler is certainly new, and the book throughout bears the impress of originality. The piquant humor and rare felicity of the text is well sustained by the numerous engravings, upwards of two hundred in number, with which the book is embellished.
From the Providence (R.I.) Journal.
The book is funny clear through; and if any doubt that fun can be sustained through so many pages, they can be cured by entering their names upon the subscription list.
From the Norwich (Ct.) Daily Advertiser.
The drollest, funniest, most truthful and readable book of the season is Mark Twain's account of the pleasure trip of a party on the Quaker City, up the Mediterranean. The writer sees the humorous side of every thing, or gives a humorous side to serious things, but is not lacking in power to be sober and wise, and even eloquent, when those qualities seem necessary for effect. If any one wants a book that will really interest and instruct him about one of the most remarkable portions of the earth, and at the same time to keep in rollicking good humor, he cannot afford to be without this book.
From the New York Times.
About one-third of this pleasant book is given to the sacred parts of Asia Minor and Egypt--showing the mental proclivity of the majority on board the Quaker City. The volume is a large one of 650 pages, beautifully printed, and swarming with illustrations which, in their own way, are as effective and amusing as the letter press. It is altogether a very taking book; and a great many persons who would not care to read the graver accounts of travel through these world-renowned places, will find themselves very much interested in Mark Twain's humorous way of getting over the same ground.
From the Rochester Chronicle.
Twain's book is valuable for pricking many of the bubbles and exploding the humbugs of European travel.
From the Newark (N.J.) Daily Advertiser.
We have one earnest caution for our readers who may buy this book. The writers seeks to rest your ribs by occassional [sic] fine passages of true eloquence, or sentiment, or sensible description. But he does not succeed. The book must be taken in interrupted doses. There is more fun in it than it is safe to swallow at once.
From the Hartford (Ct.) Times.
We are indebted to the publishers for a copy of a new and really unique volume of travels by that rollicking humorist, "Mark Twain." It is a lively, laughter-exciting book, such as one rarely meets among volumes of travels; yet the fun is not the only feature of the book. It abounds in interesting information, conveyed in a wide range of facts, adventures, and personal experiences. It is fresh, racy and sparkling as a glass of iced champagne, and a good deal better for the health and digestion. Seated under a shady tree, with this instructive picture book before him, one can, in most moods, be better entertained than with a living companion. It gives us living scenes and pictures of life and experience in far distant lands, so graphically portrayed that the book will make an attractive addition to the treasures of the library and the drawing-table, for the benefit of one's self or friends in a winter evening. Everybody should buy and read it.
From the New Jersey Journal.
Criticism of the work is almost impossible; as sufficient gravity of countenance for the purpose, can hardly be maintained over the volume. To think of, or look at it, is to smile, but to read it is to overwhelm all criticism with uncontrolable [sic] laughter. It is truly an original affair, and does credit to its author. He treats of subjects of which we supposed we were fully acquainted in such a manner that we come to the conclusion finally that we are swallowing sugar-coated statistics,--and are aware that we are digesting much useful and important information,--learning facts we never knew before,--getting glimpses of scenes and places from entirely new stand-points, and catching new and quaint ideas, expressed in the most original and funny manner. Altogether the book is a good one; one we can heartily recommend to our readers. It is pure in morals, and just the thing for fire-side reading. Buy this Book, say we, and, our word for it, you will not regret the outlay.
From the Springfield (Mass.) Union.
This is one of the most readable and entertaining books of the season. For years the quaint humor of Mark Twain has enlivened the columns of the newspapers, and few readers finish a column of his correspondence without wishing, like Oliver Twist, for more. The present volume, while brimfull [sic] of humor in almost every page, is by no means a mere jest book, but contains more information in regard to the places visited by the "Pilgrims" than would be gathered from many dry books of travel. It is profusely illustrated, and the views, which profess to be real, are authentic and well-executed; while the comic and fancy sketches aptly illustrate the drollery of the text.
From the Springfield (Mass.) Republican.
Mr. Clemens brings to his work a free spirit, a lively fancy and an indescribable emancipation from old trammels of thought and feeling. He is as different from the stock traveler as he is from Montague or Bunyan's Pilgrim,--sees things that nobody else saw, says things that nobody else ever thought of saying, and throws over his whole work the charm of an uncouth freshness.
From the New York World.
No American book of travels contains so much genuine fun. It aims to entertain and it does. There is a genuine American tone about it which is refreshing to see after the snobberies of some other American travelers.
From the New York Sun.
He pricks a great many bubbles blown by previous travelers, both in print and out of it; and where anything seemed to him an imposition or a delusion, he bluntly says so. One cannot read half a dozen pages of the book without enjoying as many hearty laughs at droll fancies of the author and the comical tint which he gives to every picture. Aside from its mirth the book abounds in clear and graphic description, and now and then the author indulges in sentimental writing and bursts of eloquence quite in contrast with his levity on other pages. Altogether this book is both instructive and entertaining, which is more than can be said of all travelers' tales.
From the Paterson Daily Guardian, N.J.
It is a large book, but a reading of a few pages is sufficient to convince the reader that Mark is equal to it, and could stand a good deal larger one. The public could also.
OPINIONS OF THE PRESS.
The author of this work during the past winter delivered in scores of cities in the West, his popular lecture termed "The American Vandal Abroad," to large and delighted audiences. The material for that lecture was drawn from this book, and is a fair specimen of its style and quality. The lecture is spoken of in the following manner by the press:
At Cleveland, Ohio.
LIBRARY ASSOCIATION--LECTURE OF "MARK TWAIN."--We shall attempt no transcript of this lecture, lest with unskillful hands we mar its beauty, for beauty and poetry it certainly possessed, though the production of a professed humorist.
We know not which most to commend, the quaint utterances, the funny incidents, the good-natured recital of the characteristics of his harmless "Vandal," or the gems of beautiful description which sparkled all through his lecture. We expected to be amused, but we were taken by surprise when he carried us on the wings of his redundant fancy, away to the ruins, the cathedrals, and the monuments of the old world. There are some passages of gorgeous word-painting which haunt us like a remembered picture. We congratulate Mr. Twain upon having taken the tide of public favor "at the flood" in the lecture field, and having conclusively proved that a man may be a humorist without being a clown. He has elevated the profession by his graceful delivery and by recognizing in his audience something higher than merely a desire to laugh. We can assure the cities who are awaiting his coming, that a rich feast is in store for them, and Cleveland is proud to offer him the first laurel leaf in his role as lecturer, this side the "Rocky slope."
At Toledo, Ohio.
MARK TWAIN'S LECTURE.--White's Hall was filled from cellar to garret, last night, by one of the best tickled audiences that ever assembled there to hear a lecture or see the speaker. Mark Twain tickled them. And he did it so easily and almost constantly, that they didn't know what they were laughing at more than half the time. Twain is witty, and his wit comes from his own fertile brain. His style is original; and his manner of speaking is not after the manner of men generally. His serious face and long drawn words are, of themselves, sufficient to make one laugh, even if there were not in every sentence expressed a sparkling gem of humor and original idea. His anecdotes, with which the lecture is replete, are rich, and, as he tells them, irresistibly funny. In some of his descriptions of European places and characters the lecturer delivers, at times, most eloquent passages, brilliant in thought and word. That Mark Twain is a success as a lecturer, as well as writer, we think no one who heard "The American Vandal Abroad," last night, will dispute.
At Sharon, Penn.
MARK TWAIN.--This combination of letters spells a name and designates a man for whom we have the most intense veneration. We had the privilege and pleasure of hearing his quaint and instructive lecture, the "American Vandal Abroad," on Saturday Evening last. A large and appreciative audience greeted him, all anxious to hear and see the man who had placed himself so high in their esteem by the many brilliant witticisms from time to time seized with avidity by the public press, and through it placed before the world. Mr. Twain was heard and admired. New and warm friends were added to his list and the old ones retained. Such a deep interest was manifested in the lecture that at the close a general dissatisfaction was apparent that he did not speak longer. It seemed too short, but upon consulting the time it was discovered to the great surprise of all that he had talked one hour and a half. A sermon of the same dimensions to the self-same audience would have found many dozing, and at the hour of high noon! The lecture was a grand success. Everybody was pleased. He is about to issue a work of some six hundred pages, "The Innocents Abroad, or the New Pilgrim's Progress." We long to see it, and predict for it an extensive sale.
"MARK TWAIN" ON THE SPHYNX [sic].--Among the gems of fine description in the lecture of Mark Twain, Tuesday evening, that of the mysterious Sphynx thrilled his audience with admiration.
From the Elmira, N.Y., Daily Gazette.
MARK TWAIN'S NEW BOOK, "THE INNOCENTS ABROAD, OR THE NEW PILGRIM'S PROGRESS."--Advance sheets of the new work have incidentally come under our notice--and from them we are prepared to speak highly of Mr. Clemens' prospective book. It has for its foundation a description of the sights and scenes of famous places abroad, while they are treated in that peculiarly attractive vein of power and genuine humor, which has made him widely famous, and placed him at the head of the witty writers of America. Mr. Clemens, however, is something besides a literary humorist. There occurs in his writing a blending of sentiment and thought as fine and striking as they are beautiful and sparkling--ideas as clear and penetrating as his humor is fresh. From what we have seen of his new book we are led to believe that it will do much towards advancing his reputation, and establish it on an enduring basis. That it will be a success is already assured.
From the Mohawk Valley, N.Y, Register.
By a private note from "Mark Twain," we learn that he is about to issue his new book, "The New Pilgrim's Progress," and then transform himself into a pilgrim again and start for California. The first part of the information we hail with the utmost satisfaction, but we regret that he is soon to leave the Atlantic coast. However, as many people will kill themselves with laughter over his book, he might be subject here to the annoyance of frequent arrests for being accessory before the fact to numerous cases of manslaughter. In California he would be safe among his earlier friends, who know him better, and would let him off more easily.