Overview Few people know that Mark Twain wrote a major work on St. Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important but also his best work, spending 12 years in research and many months in France doing archival research. A book to inform and inspire its readers.
Publishers Description Very few people know that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote a major work on Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important but also his best work. He spent twelve years in research and many months in France doing archival work and then made several attempts until he felt he finally had the story he wanted to tell. He reached his conclusion about Joan's unique place in history only after studying in detail accounts written by both sides, the French and the English.
Because of Mark Twain's antipathy to institutional religion, one might expect an anti-Catholic bias toward Joan or at least toward the bishops and theologians who condemned her. Instead one finds a remarkably accurate biography of the life and mission of Joan of Arc told by one of this country's greatest storytellers. The very fact that Mark Twain wrote this book and wrote it the way he did is a powerful testimony to the attractive power of the Catholic Church's saints. This is a book that really will inform and inspire.
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Mark Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835, led one of the most exciting of literary lives. Raised in the river town of Hannibal, Missouri, Twain had to leave school at age 12 and was successively a journeyman printer, a steamboat pilot, a halfhearted Confederate soldier, and a prospector, miner, and reporter in the western territories. His experiences furnished him with a wide knowledge of humanity, as well as with the perfect grasp of local customs and speech which manifests itself in his writing. With the publication in 1865 of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Twain gained national attention as a frontier humorist, and the bestselling Innocents Abroad solidified his fame. But it wasn't until Life on the Mississippi (1883), and finally, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), that he was recognized by the literary establishment as one of the greatest writers America would ever produce. Toward the end of his life, plagued by personal tragedy and financial failure, Twain grew more and more pessimistic--an outlook not alleviated by his natural skepticism and sarcasm. Though his fame continued to widen--Yale & Oxford awarded him honorary degrees--Twain spent his last years in gloom and exasperation, writing fables about "the damned human race."
Mark Twain lived in Hannibal, in the state of Missouri. Mark Twain was born in 1835 and died in 1910.
Reviews - What do customers think about Joan of Arc?
historic romance honestly done Jan 22, 2008
I am not sure what got me interested in joans' story but i was pleased to find that twain had taken on the subject. the genius of this book is twains narrative gimmick; a translation of a fictional characters first hand account of the life an times of 'the maid of orleans'. the use of a fictional narrator allows him to stick to the bones of the story without endless digression and and scholarly citation that would have dried up such a wonderful story. while staying true to the important historical facts(except the physical description of joan) the trick allows twain to cobble together several years of research into a story that is readable and moving. some complain that twain made no issue of joans' divine visions, believing that the events the book describe become uninteresting to those who are of a skeptical nature. i too am skeptical but if she did have visions the story is amazing if on the other hand she made them up the story is all the more profound...
An Astounding Story Aug 10, 2007
This is one of Mark Twain's best books, in my estimation. It was the last book he wrote. He also wrote it under an assumed name, for fear that his reputation as a humorist would detract from the seriousness with which he hoped his readers would approach the topic. Moreover, it is a highly spiritual book written by a self-described atheist.
The book is narrated by Joan's aide-de-camp, and childhood friend, as an old man telling a story to his grandchildren. And what a story he tells. Of the transformation of a poor village girl into the military savior of France from the English invasion, while hardly more than a child. A transformation which not only resulted in the military hero of the century, but which is at its center based on Joan's love for God and trust in his miracle. My book buddy Marcia Makepeace read Joan of Arc, as her 21st book, in this the 30th day of our 60 day readathon. I'm close behind with 18, reading furiously in San Francisco.
Mark Twain brings Saint Joan to life! Jul 17, 2007
The master storyteller, Mark Twain, used his immense talent to create this fictionalized account of Saint Joan's life. Even though it is fiction, it is still very historically accurate and stays true to the story of Saint Joan of Arc. Because it is fiction, Twain is able to bring out Saint Joan's personality in a way that reminds us that she was a beautiful, vibrant, passionate young woman who sacrificed everything to serve God and save her country
I think the very fact that Twain would even choose to write a biography about Saint Joan is a further testament to her greatness. Twain was personal friends with U.S. Grant and could much more easily have written a biography about him. He also lived at a time when some of the greatest military leaders ever lived like Lee, Jackson, etc., so if all he had been looking for was a famous military leader he could have also chosen one of them. Obviously, he was looking for someone even greater to write about. I think his own words probably explain why he chose Saint Joan when he said that: "She was perhaps the only entirely unselfish person whose name has a place in profane history."
Whether you are a Saint Joan devotee or not I think you will enjoy reading this book. It is well written and easy to read and covers one of the greatest stories in world history. If you already know about the life of Saint Joan, I also think you will end up loving this account because of the way Twain brings her to life. Definitely one of the best of all the biographies written about Saint Joan of Arc and considered by Twain himself to be his greatest work. Five stars are probably not enough.
Beautiful and haunting Apr 27, 2007
How amazing it is to find the usually sardonic, faithless Twain so moved to write a work as glorifying, uplifting and devoted as this novel! In fact, I read this book just to find out what Twain's angle might be. There is no angle, no slant to the story.
It is told in beautiful and moving prose, with Twain using his skills to their utmost, proving by eyewitness the sanctity and goodness of a peasant girl raised to the level of a saint by the blessing of God. Twain, inspired, is quite unmatched in his use of imagery and emotional appeal. The novel is quite stunning in places.
On a historical note, though the words Joan speaks and the events are true, Twain takes liberty with minor characters and their lives in order to follow Joan more closely and give some much-needed comic relief.
Also, on the flip side of the story of the beautifully pure maiden turned warrior, is an indictment against the church who allowed an archbishop to carry out an evil scheme in order to further his own career, and against the King of France who failed to save the girl who saved him.
I will never forget this story, or the faith and courage of Joan of Arc that shone so brightly against the corruption and sin of the church in that age. I am so glad I read this novel.
unexpected pleasure Feb 21, 2007
Obviously the public didn't approve of this when it was released as it went against the grain of Twain's previous works. If you are a history maniac as I am, you will appreciate the effort Twain has taken to combine a novel with historical facts. The fact that this book is the first to use the actual transcript of the trial of Joan is a feat in and unto itself. Sit back and enjoy Twain's effort and learn about a fascinating personal history...