Essay / Literature

Book Review: “Joan of Arc” by Mark Twain

John Mark Reynolds, 2004.

Phil Johnson is the source of some of the best reading recommendations I have ever received. He taught me Trollope. And now he has had me read Mark Twain’s masterpiece, Joan of Arc. I am fairly immune to Twain’s normal charms. He is fun in small doses, but his best notes, irony and skepticism, wear after one hundred pages or so. Joan was his favorite work and it is easy to see why. It is bright, where Twain is usually grey. It is chock full of faith, hope, and charity, whereas Twain is usually just full of himself and his cleverness. There is some of his notable humor in the book, but not too much of it. There is not a slow page.I am working on a longer piece dealing with the book, but this thought for tonight: why isn’t this book taught? Twain is most often feted as skeptic and religion basher, google his web followers if you don’t believe me. This is not the Twain of Joan of Arc. He believes in Joan and her miracles. He accepts her historicity. The American curmudgeon was a final conquest of the Maid of Orleans. It revolutionizes the way I view Twain. It doesn’t fit the “story” the liberal/secular educational establishment loves to tell. . . so it is overlooked. (I think Trollope superior to Dickens. . . and overlooked for the same general reasons.)

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