Buffalo Express [unsigned]
1869: October 16


If any book of late years has so generally interested the press of the country and received so extensive and favorable an introduction to the public as has Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad, since its appearance, we fail to remember the instance. We gave to our readers last week, in a supplementary sheet, some specimens of the notices we have found in our exchanges. Numerous as were the excerpts here collected, they represent but a fraction of what have fallen under our observation, and the notable fact is, that, instead of the mere mention so commonly accorded to a new book, almost every journal has given it an unusually elaborate review, written not in a simple spirit of courtesy, but evidentally with an inspiration of interest excited by reading the work. The truth is, we believe, that no one of an ordinary disposition of mind can dip into the volume without being snared by a curious fascination. It is so different from any narrative of travel that ever was written before. The mere tickle of an ever pervading humor is not all that makes it delightful, but that humor is like an atmosphere, in which the old world scenes that so many tourists and travellers have led us into, take on a new and altogether novel appearance, so that we follow our droll excursionist from place to place as eagerly as though we had never been carried to them by any narrative before. It would be a great mistake to suppose that the book is just a big package of Mark Twain's jokes, to be read with laughter, and for the sake of laughter. It is the panorama of Europe and the Holy Land as they were seen by one who went abroad with no illusions; who carried about with him a shrewd pair of American eyes, and used them to get his own impressions of things, as they actually presented themselves, not as he had been taught to expect them; who bore with him, moreover, as acute an appreciation of sham and humbug as his sense of the humorous and ludicrous was keen. What he saw he tells, and we believe there is more true description in his book than in any other of the kind that we have read. What is to be told soberly he tells soberly, and with all the admiration or reverence that is due to the subject. But he does like to wash off false colors, to scrape away putty and varnish, to stick a pin into venerable moss grown shams -- and it is a perpetual delight to his reader to see him do it in his droll, dry way. We have yet to find the person who could open the book and willingly lay it down again, for, certainly, it is not often that more or livelier entertainment can be had in the same compass. The work has been published by the American Publishing Company, at Hartford, and is sold by agents who canvass for subscriptions.

[MT was part-owner and editor of the Express. Frederick Anderson suggests J.N. Larned may have written this notice (MT: The Critical Heritage, p. 25) -- or MT could have written it himself.]

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