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Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – November 7, 2002
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There is an impossibly powerful moment when Joan is setting off on her journey where she looks back at her old home from the road, and knows without knowing, it is the last time she will ever see it. It hits like an 18-wheeler truck. The way Mark Twain writes it, the way the reader knows history plays out, the way you might imagine that really happened, if it did, if it really could have. It is all the bravery and tragedy the world has to give contained in a paragraph.
In Twain's defense, how could the rest of the book even compare? You might close it forever right there and no one could blame you. It would still be a good book.
-- Mark Twain
His Joan of Arc has gotten bad press ever since.
But Sam (MT) was right.
While critics have lampooned his Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc as dull, tawdry, uninspiring, second-rate Twain this reader suggests the critics are wrong.
Whatever the reader comes to the Twain/Clemens bibliography in hopes to find (& no matter what it is it's everywhere) that same reader will find that Twain got it right & it's all there in his ... Joan of Arc.
The joy of being a child in Twain's bucolic memory somewhere a long time ago is there in Joan's childhood. She is a real girl as real as Becky Thatcher & she lives in a real world ...
... & Twain puts her there.
Joan's story contains as much humanity as Huck & Jim's voyage down the river ever could.
... Joan has heroes & anti-heroes to compare with Grangerford & Judge Thatcher.
Its narrative is as daunting as Tom Sawyer in the cave, as heroic as Puddinhead Wilson, & as insightful of what it means to be human as the Mysterious Stranger.
MT saved the best for the last.