An inocente on “The Innocents Abroad”

4 Sep

I have a Kindle.

I adopted it more quickly in the scheme of things than I’d like to admit to myself. Long a proponent of the book as an artifact and an object, I eschewed the idea of a freaking machine housing all the glorious books that I would want to read or show off to others. The years do not smell the same on a Kindle as they do on a book; the loveliness of underlining and re-reading those emphases (“man, I was so young to have cared for this line”, “wow,  I underlined this sentence so fiercely!”) and the connection to marginalia are relegated to a cold, straight, unfeeling underlines and typed-out notes.

But then Greg got one, and I stole it.

And then he told me I better well just get my own and leave him alone, so my parents bought me one.

And I love it.

Everything in the public domain is free and at your fingertips! Being cheap and broke, that means that I have nearly all literary periods to choose from (Romantic! Victorian! Epic Poems!), as well as many beloved authors whose works I can access for free in a manner of seconds. And unlike my old library, this Kindle doesn’t require creating new bookcases every year, nor does it necessitate frequent dustings, nor do I have to hemorrhage money moving it to a new location nor pull my muscles carrying fifteen, 30 pounds boxes of a library to a third-story walk-up in the New England August heat (not bitter about that one, at all).

So, on to the real portion of this: I have a Kindle that I sort of feel guilty about but really love, and I thought that it would be important to read Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad because I have never read it, and I felt morally obligated to do so considering I jacked the title for my blizog. And it was free on my Kindle.

And it’s super. His wry wit is still relevant today, and I recommend it highly.

The purpose of this post (which turned out longer than I had intended it to) was to share two of the quotes I found most striking (though the entire thing is peppered with thoughts and moments that are thoroughly quotable).

First, the thoughtful: Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s time. This occurs at the end of the novel, a reflection on his travels.

And, for good measure, the realistic: The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become, until he goes abroad.

We miss all of you. Now we’re off to the Jardín for a picnic on this fine Sunday afternoon. I hope you’re all well.

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