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Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – November 7, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

After the Civil War, Samuel Clemens (1835-1910) left his small town to seek work as a riverboat pilot. As Mark Twain, the Missouri native found his place in the world. Author, journalist, lecturer, wit, and sage, Twain created enduring works that have enlightened and amused readers of all ages for generations.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 329 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Trade Paperback Edition edition (November 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486424596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486424590
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. Ian on May 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
I came upon this book by accident. I had heard of "Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Pierre DeConte." I looked it up in Amazon Com and found to my surprise that it was written by Mark Twain! Now, I've talked to a lot of folks, and this book is not altogether unknown, but most folks have never heard of it, let alone read it. This is way different from Tom and Huck, and the multitude of clever quips we've all heard from Mark Twain. Evidently he considered it his best work, a work of love, even though he knew that it would never hit it big time on the market.

I found the book fascinating, moving, and best of all, true. I not only enjoyed it immensely, but I read it over the period of several readings to a bunch of 5-7 graders, who also really enjoyed it (these are kids who are usually "too big" for being read to).

It is plain that Twain took great pains to make sure that the book was as historically accurate as possible, accepting the fact that he wrote it in first person through the person of Sire Louis DeConte. The only question I would like cleared up for me is how much license he took with that one character, and what is actually known about him from history.

I don't recommend many books, but I would highly recommend this one. Following my tendency I bought the budget edition, but if I had spent a bit more, I could have a book that I could lend out to friends more. I have lent this one to various teen-agers, but it is showing the wear and tear.
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Format: Paperback
A paean to the bravery and spirit of Joan of Arc, this novel by Mark Twain is also his most scholarly, having taken twelve years to write. Clearly fascinated by Joan's "voices" and her sense of mission, Twain delves into her religious passion and her belief that God has chosen her to free France from England and restore the Dauphin to the throne. Often focusing on the arguments and trials in which Joan participates throughout her life, Twain shows her childhood attempt to "save the fairies," her struggle to become general of France, and ultimately, her defense against heresy and sorcery. Through these, Twain attempts to reconcile her spiritual commitment with the tumultuous temporal world in which she is engaged.

Born in Domremy in 1412, seventy-five years after the beginning of the Hundred Years War, Joan, an Armagnac, supports the isolated Dauphin, son of Charles VI; another faction supports the Duke of Burgundy, allied with the British. When Joan is fifteen, her angelic voices tell her she will lead God's armies, win back France, and restore the Dauphin. By the time she is seventeen she is General-in-Chief of France. After lifting the siege of Orleans, achieving many victories, and finally, standing beside the Dauphin at his coronation, she is, however, captured by the Burgundians. Sold to the English, she is later surrendered to an Inquisition in Rouen for trial as a heretic and sorceress. The Dauphin fails to intervene, and at age nineteen she is burned at the stake.

Twain creates a fast-paced story about this tumultuous period, creating a series of repeating characters who anchor Joan's story from the time of childhood until her death.
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The thing that sucks is the best part of the book is the beginning, and it slowly loses energy after that. If it's ever sounded bizarre to you that Twain's favorite book he wrote was this, you're not wrong for thinking that. It shouldn't be surprising to note that the parts that really shine are the village scenes early in Joan's life, where Twain's skill at rendering local heroes and villains is incredible, and so fun.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Mark Twain wasn't the only pseudonym used my Samuel Clemens. When this book was first serialized in Harper's Magazine in 1895, it was presented as "Freely Translated out of the Ancient French into Modern English from the Original Unpublished Manuscript in the National Archives of France" - a found manuscript with no connection to the famous author. The book presents itself as a memoir by a fictional companion of Joan's written for his family in the final years of life. The narrator claims to be a childhood friend of hers who, being one of the few people of her village that can write, accompanies her and becomes her secretary during her military career. After her capture and imprisonment, he sneaks into Rouen, where she is to be tried, and becomes an assistant to the official recorder of the the events. Thus, the author has established a single voice that can tell the complete history of the brief, miraculous life of the Maid of Orleans.

The events of the book have been simply summed up in a paragraph in WIKIPEDIA's entry on the Hundred Years War as follows:

By 1428, the English were ready to pursue the war again, laying siege to Orleans'Their

force was insufficient to fully invest the city, but larger French forces remained passive.

In 1429, Joan of Arc convinced the Dauphin to send her to the siege, saying she had received

visions from God telling her to drive out the English. She raised the morale of the local

troops and they attacked the English redoubts, forcing the English to lift the siege.

Inspired by Joan the French took several English strongpoints on the Loire.
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