Hello! I am currently reading The Innocents Abroad. The writing is incredibly fantastic (as always) but the content of the book is not very much stimulating.
Would anyone like to read it with me? (If you have the book that is.) Please message me if you do.
I started to read this book years ago, when I first went abroad, right after graduating high school. It is another one of those books which requires a certain amount of life experience to fully appreciate. I tried reading a bunch of Herman Hesse at around the same time, and most of Faulkner, and while those two are somewhat more 'serious' authors, the same issue applied.
Some criticisms of The Innocents complain that the book is a bit wordy and drags in places. When I first read it, I felt it was impenetrable - just boring - kind of the way I feel about the Danzig Trilogy. But, picking the book up fresh with two more decades and several European trips under my belt, I find I'm far better equipped to appreciate Clemons' disquisition on Americans, Europeans and Western Civilization writ large. It's still quite pithy, but has lost all of that sensation of drudgery and tedium - the are we there yet? feeling. Now I pause on every sentence, to savor and fully appreciate each phrase. To borrow from the book's modus operandi: in a sense, it's a bit like visiting the Rijksmuseum to see the great Dutch masters, after you take a class in painting. You may not had advanced much beyond paint-by-numbers yourself, but suddenly it's not an endless series of similar dark canvasses - suddenly, a whole different universe unfolds in layer after layer of information you could previously see is revealed to you.
I strongly, strongly recommend this book - both to get a better appreciation of the American perspective - who we (they?) are - and how we view the Western Canon (where we come from). Clemons' is a genius and a wit; he really is an American treasure.
The Bibliophile Club are reading 'The Innocents Abroad' here: http://www.shelfari.com/groups/35185/discussions/355723/May-2011-Book-of-the-Month-Travels-with-Twain .