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Imperial Therapy: Mark Twain and the Discourse of National Consciousness in Innocents Abroad

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-05-21, 04:39 authored by Daniel McKay
“It may be thought that I am prejudiced. Perhaps I am. I would be ashamed of myself if I were not.” When Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910) undertook correspondence for San Francisco’s Alta California on a $1250 trip to Europe and the Holy Land in 1867 he had an established reputation as a humorist and was on the cusp of making the transition from journalist to author. Innocents Abroad, “an unvarnished tale” published in 1869 and sewn together with questionable regard for coherence or thematic consistency, sold thirty-one thousand copies in one year. Only Uncle Tom’s Cabin had done better, as Twain himself noted. What made his work such a success? “This book is the record of a pleasure trip” (I, xxi), Twain declared, yet there had already been innumerable pleasure trips and by more established authors than he.


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