Mark Twain & Joan of Arc

About a year ago, I got a first-edition Sony ebook reader, and it has been a regular bedside companion every since. Unlike many of my friends, I don’t miss carrying around physical volumes. I’ve read many thousands of electronic book pages on this gadget and I expect to carry on indefinitely.

You don’t need an ebook reader to enjoy these documents; any computer will do. I got my copy of Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc from Project Gutenberg. Plenty of interesting documents are available at the Internet Archive, too.

Like most kids of my generation, I was force-fed Mark Twain from time to time in school. I liked the Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, but I can’t say Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn did much for me. As an adult, I came to admire Mark Twain more, both as a writer and as a social critic. I found I liked his later stuff a lot better than the more celebrated and famous material.

Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc is not funny. It’s basically a docudrama based on the life of Joan of Arc as told through various church and court records. I enjoyed every page and I recommend it highly! It turns out that this is the last full-length book Mark Twain ever wrote, and he published it in the mid 1890’s.

My best guess is that this book is not taught in schools or widely read because it’s about events that took place in France in the 1400’s. ┬áIt’s not about American society. Apparently this book took our author many years to write because he spent 12 years researching it, while the others didn’t require any preparation.

This is my favorite Mark Twain book. Does anybody agree with me? Yes – it turns out that Mr. Twain himself considered Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc to be his best book. I recommend you take a short leave of absence and read it right away. (You don’t have to pause to wonder why you’re reading a stupid blog entry right now instead of classic literature, but it might not be a bad question to ask yourself.)

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