“Every noun has a gender, and there is no sense or system in the distribution; so the gender of each must be learned separately and by heart. There is no other way. To do this one has to have a memory like a memorandum-book. In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl. See how it looks in print -- I translate this from a conversation in one of the best of the German Sunday-school books: Gretchen: "Wilhelm, where is the turnip?" Wilhelm: "She has gone to the kitchen." Gretchen: "Where is the accomplished and beautiful English maiden?" Wilhelm. "It has gone to the opera.” Mark Twain brings excellent humor and adventure to this second novel about European travel by unsuspecting tourists.
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Nearly nine decades after his death, Mark Twain remains an international icon. His white-maned, mustachioed image is instantly identifiable throughout the world, the very picture of probity and high spirits (which explains why he's become the poster boy for products as diverse as beer, billiard tables, sewing machines, pizza, and real estate). Perhaps more importantly, Twain's books have retained all their power to amuse and enrage. How is it possible for the creator of a 19th-century "boy's holiday book" (Twain's own description of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) to raise so many contemporary hackles? The answer is that Twain is a contemporary writer. Not, of course, from a chronological point of view--he was born in Missouri in 1835 and died in 1910 (having insisted that "annihilation has no terrors for me"). But Twain was the first writer to elevate the American vernacular to a high art. Sidestepping the starched-shirt diction of his peers, he created an idiom that resembled (but did not precisely duplicate) the wayward, slangy, ungrammatical music of American conversation. No serious reader of Twain will want to do without the Oxford Mark Twain. This 29-volume leviathan includes not only the major works but also a treasure trove of essays and short pieces, many of them unavailable for decades. Throw in the introductions to each volume (by such heavyweights as Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, Cynthia Ozick, Gore Vidal, George Plimpton, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Walter Mosley), as well as the original illustrations, and you've got the book bargain of the millennium.From the Inside Flap:
In "A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain's unofficial sequel to "The Innocents Abroad, the author records his hilarious and diverse observations and insights while on a fifteen-month walking trip through Central Europe and the Alps. "Here you have Twain's inimitable mix," writes Dave Eggers in his Introduction, "of the folksy and the effortlessly erudite, his unshakable good sense and his legendary wit, his knack for the easy relation of a perfect anecdote, and some achingly beautiful nature writing."
This Modern Library Paperback Classic reproduces the text of the first American edition and features new explanatory notes and a critical Afterword by Kerry Driscoll, professor of English at Saint Joseph College in Connecticut.
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