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Directory of Mark Twain's maxims, quotations, and various opinions:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


THE INNOCENTS ABROAD

My first impulse was to "revise" this book before putting it on exhibition in so permanent a place as the Tauchnitz Series; but my second and wiser one was to leave it undoctored. This book is the book of a youth on his first travels, -- of a boy, I may even say; for although I really had a man's age, I was a boy, and a callow boy, too, in all other respects. Years have since gone by, I have become a man, I have travelled a good deal, I have learned something and unlearned more, -- now how is a man going to revise a boy's book, and not make a botch of it? The thing is not possible. I should simply knock out a compact brick of ignorance here and there, and insert an ineffectual clod of unsure learning; I should knock out the boy's chipper confidence, and insert the man's chilly caution; I should knock out the boy's unwitting irreverence, and insert the man's fraudful sermon; I should sweep the boy's giddy enthusiasms all away, and insert the man's shorn and subjugated impulses and wary speech. The total result would be a good book to kindle a fire with.

No, I could re-write the book, but I am not competent to revise it. It is better to leave it as it is than try to improve it by letting it laugh youthfully out of one corner of its mouth while I make it cry maturely out of the other.
- March 1879, introduction to the 1879 Tauchnitz edition of The Innocents Abroad

 

When the Lord finished the world, he pronounced it good. That is what I said about my first work, too. But Time, I tell you, Time takes the confidence out of these incautious opinions. It is more than likely that He thinks about the world, now, pretty much as I think about the Innocents Abroad. The fact is, there is a trifle too much water in both.
- Letter to unidentified person, 6 November 1886
Twain and the world
Original cartoon from CINCINNATI
COMMERCIAL REGISTER,
September 26, 1885

 

page from letter

For more insights on how The Innocents Abroad was written, see:
Reminiscences of Senator William M. Stewart of Nevada
and
New York Evening Post, January 20, 1883 - How the 'Innocents Abroad' Was Written


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