Travel classic The Innocents Abroad

Zac O--Yeah on his love for Mark Twain--s travelogue The Innocents Abroad, 1869
Travel classic The Innocents Abroad
Travel classic The Innocents Abroad

As a travel writer, I have been having this long-lasting love affair with one particular travelogue &mdash namely The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain. To be honest, I wasn&rsquot particularly interested in Twain when I picked it up at Strand in New York some twenty years ago, at a point when I myself was rather innocent about being abroad. I just kind of thought that I should read at least one book by the most famous American writer... and the title sounded perfect. Ostensibly, Twain tells us the story of the first pleasure cruise (1867) by ship from the New World to the Old World (already that is a hilarious prospect), a great excursion that included the World Exhibition in Paris and holy places like Jerusalem. Travelling as a correspondent for an American newspaper he fills the book with stuff that perhaps was unprintable in the press, comic episodes such as gate-crashing the Acropolis in Athens at night, and records the places around the Mediterranean with a sharp eye, in a way that remains fresh today &mdash almost 150 years later. Whenever I feel doubts about my job, I open up the book and find inspiration in Twain&rsquos boundless energy.

Zac O&rsquoYeah is a writer and columnist whose latest book is Mr. Majestic The Tout of Bengaluru.

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