Talk:The Innocents Abroad

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Doesn't seem to be a stub, are you sure this doesn't just need a cleanup?

Google scholar[edit]

First: the statement: "The google scholar links hundreds of books and articles" is not quite accurate; it links 101 books and articles.

And I have been looking through them all. (Yepp! ...I tend to do these things.) And as a very rough guide, it looks as if there is the following distribution of subjects:

  • 50%: study of Mark Twains writing (quite unlikely that the accuracy/ inaccuracy of his descriptions of Palestine are discussed at all)
  • 25%: about the Western "construction" of the view of foreign lands... some these books/articles look very much in line with the "deconstruction" school of thought of Jacques Derrida (if anybody is familiar with it?). Example: Fabricating ideology: clothing, culture, and colonialism in Melville's 'Typee.
  • 25%: used by rather pro-Israeli sources. Example: Myths & Facts Online

Conclusion I: few, if any serious scholars on the ME have cited the book. (One possible exception is the controversial Bernard Lewis, whose book "Semites and Anti-Semites" contain a ref. to "The Innocents Abroad." (I cannot see in what context, however)) Conclusion II: That the book "The Innocents Abroad" has been cited by Twain-scholars (Surprise! Surprise!) is no justification for inserting a sentence like "Twain's writings have often been cited as the preeminent primary source in chronicalling the demographics of what is now the modern-day State of Israel" It simply does not connect. Regards, Huldra 08:22, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

It doesn't matter if it's pro-Isralei sources in your eyes. Many of the sources are important scholars of the conflict and they cite Twain's book as a source for the conflict regarding this issue !! There are many sources like that depicted in the link, and of course elsewhere. It's a fact, non disputed fact. Amoruso 11:17, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
You can't say " Twain's writings have been cited by pro-Zionist writers like Ernst Frankensten, Joan Peters and Alan Dershowitz", because this "like" and pro-zionist writers is non encyclopedic classic well poisoning leading the reader tactic. Fact is it was used by prominent scholars of the conflict. Surely some of them are Israelis and surely pro-palestinian "scholars" won't use this source which negates their entire premise. Amoruso 11:20, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
My dear, if you want to remove the expression "pro-Zionist", then you certainly have my blessing to do so ;-) ...I just suspected that the writers in question (Frankenstein, Peters, Dershowitz) would be rather insulted if they were not termed "pro-Zionist". But if you can garantee that they will not be insulted (and that Dershowitz will not sue me ;-D )...well, then you may ofcourse remove the expression. (I didn´t know calling supporters of Zionism for "pro-Zionist" could be well-poisoning, so thank you for educating me on the issue.)
Secondly; you have several times stated that "prominent scholars" have used Twains book as a source. Fine. All I ask for is two names (since you use the plural form for "scholar"). The names of two "prominent scholars" who have used him. And until you come up with those two (-minimum-) names, I feel perfectly entitled to removing you claim. (That scholars have used Twain in thesises like "Fabricating ideology: clothing, culture, and colonialism in Melville's 'Typee" is simply no proof of the accuracy of his description of a desolate Palestine.) Regards, from a very pedantic Huldra 19:09, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
Well, Kathleen Christison is pro-palestinian. You see. And adding "others" there is dishonest. Refrain from adding others when in fact you haven't even had a look on the original words of Kathleen Christison. So far she's the only one. I'm not intent on the word scholars. I can use the words historians and writers if you prefer. Katz is a historian, Peters is a writer. As for others, you can see in the scholar link writers like Max Dimont, historian Yehoshofat Harkabi, and others. Also additionals like Dr. Rabinovich and Schechtman. Many many. Kindly then stop reverting. Glad it's settled. In fact, that was the last version. Too bad you reverted since you don't seem to object to it. Amoruso 11:43, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
You are quite right that I have not read Christison..but I reverted to the sentence used by Zero (who added the ref. in the first place). When he has used the word "others" I assume he knows what he is talking about. As for the other writers you mention; try, e.g. reading Huldra 12:54, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
Edward Said is an example of "others". Not the only one either. --Zerotalk 14:50, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
Said is not only an extermely baised source (a memeber of the PNC, an opponent of the Oslo accords, a proven fabricator of his own personal history), he is not a relvant scholar. His scholarship is in Comp Lit, not history. If that's the best you can do - a pro Palestinian ex-CIA analyst and a pro-Palestinian Comp Lit professor who's an opponent of OSlo - you've pretty much made Amoruso's case. Isarig 15:10, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
You don't even seem to know that Said is dead. Btw, expertise in literature is exactly what analysis of Twain requires. --Zerotalk 15:17, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
I am quite aware that he's dead. Analysis of the literary qualites of Twain's work might require expertise in Comp Lit, so if you want to add a section on that, and quote Said, go right ahead. But an analysis of the historical value of his work is something on which Said's opinion is as valuable as the opinion of the guy who pumps gas for me. As I worte, if the best example of a scholar who disputes Twain as a source is an extremist pro-Palestinian Comp Lit professor who's an opponent of Oslo - you've pretty much made Amoruso's case. Isarig 17:51, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

There is no special reason that a real historian must not cite this book. Twain was there and wrote about it, so his words are of some use. However, in practice use of the book is mostly restricted to authors with a clear motivation. They want to portray Palestine as uninhabited in order to boost the Jewish claim on it. It isn't about scholarship. A real historian would actually be offended by the charge that he/she used Twain as a "preeminent primary source", since every historian trained in that profession is taught that travel tales from untrained observers are well down in the list of reliable sources. If it was the only source, maybe, but there are hundreds and many are far more careful and written by experts or at least residents who speak the language rather than naive Americans trying to amuse their readers. That's why historians motivated by scholarship don't try to refute Twain either: it would be like an astronomer refuting astrology. Some might do it for educational or polemic reasons, but most see nothing worth refuting and don't bother. How could someone who writes like this be taken seriously as an observer:

Here was a grand Oriental picture which I had worshiped a thousand times in soft, rich steel engravings! But in the engraving there was no desolation; no dirt; no rags; no fleas; no ugly features; no sore eyes; no feasting flies; no besotted ignorance in the countenances; no raw places on the donkeys’ backs; no disagreeable jabbering in unknown tongues; no stench of camels; no suggestion that a couple of tons of powder placed under the party and touched off would heighten the effect and give to the scene a genuine interest and a charm which it would always be pleasant to recall, even though a man lived a thousand years. (Innocents Abroad, p125 in web edition)

"Besotted ignorance"? "disagreeable jabbering"? "tons of powder"? Amoruso doesn't seem to realise that reporting people like Katz use this as a "preeminent primary source" is actually slandering them. --Zerotalk 14:50, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

I just noticed this:

On the right is the ancient pasture-land of Jacob and his descendants, now well cultivated, and yielding abundant harvests of wheat and barley, and a good supply of beans, lentils, sesamum, cotton, and tobacco, and a wealth of wild flowers on every uncultivated patch of ground, especially mallows and anemones of many colours and ranunculi. ("Samaria and Plain of Esdraelon" by Mary Eliza Rogers, who spent most of her adult life in Palestine as the wife of a British diplomat, published 1881)

Why doesn't Katz use this as his "preeminent primary source"? Rogers was obviously far more qualified than Twain. --Zerotalk 14:50, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

The words "preeminent primary source" don't even appear anymore. This discussion is obsolete. Btw, I actually read Eliza Rogers (she was a companion to her brother in Palestine if I remember) and what she says doesn't refute any of what Twain says. On the contrary, she speaks extensively of Jews, refuting that Jews only came later... Katz used many sources including Volney, Chateaubriand and Melville. Nobody doubts that that were people under the Ottoman empire (obviously) which included Arabs AND Jews. But also nobody doubts Twain, Volney, Chateaubriand and Melville's estimations of population and development. Amoruso 13:03, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

False Observations[edit]

Amoruso, these are false observations again from Twain regarding the temple mount. Certainly marble stones were not only used by muslims in al-Aqsa mosque, but used at almost every mosque of that period. Much of the marble found in today's al-Aqsa mosque comes from work done by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificient... Therefore, I have no idea what Twain is talking about. Certainly he is not an architect so that has words are taken literaly. Innocent Abroad is not another bible! Almaqdisi 23:43, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

That's WP:OR. Amoruso 23:58, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

Maybe you want to read for example [1]. Also no need to be disappointed. I wanted to point out to the fact that Twain was Prejudice to anything related to anything Arabic or Islamic in Palestine. I am leaving this here untouched. But I noticed you did similar addition at al-Aqsa article. I think there facts should be more clarified because the article there is about al-Aqsa rather than being about Twain's work. Finally, his observations are not famous. Having the word famous might be misleading. Obviously he is not a famous scholar in mideast art. Almaqdisi 08:01, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

I think it's very relevant to the al aqsa article for example because it's a reference to al aqsa by Mark Twain, a very famous figure who wrote one of the best-sellers of all times. This passage is famous, it's cited in many places. The word famous is not that imporant, I don't care for it, simply it's notable enough for the section. Not sure of the reference you added here... if it doesn't discuss Twain's observation, then it belongs in a different section I believe. Amoruso 15:40, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

Thanks Amoruso. I agree with you in general, but I wanted to say that since this Observation of Twain is absoultely wrong, it needs to have more attention in the other articles. I do not mind it here of course beacuse this is what he said. But it is for sure wrong. Almaqdisi 16:24, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

I think it makes a lot of sense and others have made the same claim. The Dome of the Rock actually has palm, grape and fig designs (jewish symbols). Amoruso 17:03, 8 October 2006 (UTC)
Ah, :), I now understand what you say. I think these are because of this Quranic verse, let me find it, here it is 95:1 the verse of fig. Almaqdisi 17:07, 8 October 2006 (UTC)
? and the 12 pillars are 12 islamic tribes. Amoruso 17:30, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

Get a life, people! This book is satire, and he has plenty of disrespect for all humankind. Remember the notice at the beginning of Huckleberry Finn:

'Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR.' Barnaby the Scrivener (talk) 14:21, 2 May 2009 (UTC)


As elsewhere in Innocents Abroad, Twain was reacting to Victorian excesses in enthusiasm for foreign places. I have given the actual name and title of his source; Twain did not, because he thought Prime one example of a large class. Twain is, to my eye, engaging in considerably less Orientalism than his sources (consider his account of a Turkish bath); and is almost entirely reacting to their flamboyance.

Should we include the name (Grimes) Twain gave to Prime? Should we cite Prime's description of Gennasereth, which is factually almost identical to Twain's, but has much less rhetoric? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:49, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Kathleen Christison[edit]

An anon editor is disputing the accuracy of Kathleen Christison's comments found in her 1999 book. Because the anons comments are un-sourced it is problematic. The anons comments probably have some kernel of truth to them, so rather then deleting it out-right, I have added fact tags as a courtesy to the anon editor to provide some supporting evidence for these views. The best and easiest way is to just cite another authors published works which say these things. If this can't be supported it will have to be removed per WP:OR. -- Stbalbach 19:05, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Original Research is for deletion. If the anon comes back with a citation to a reliable source giving these opinions, we can reconsider. --Zerotalk 07:22, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
Well, it's your right to delete it outright. The purpose of fact tags is a courtesy to give the person a chance to fix the problem and to note specifically where the problem is. -- Stbalbach 15:18, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Uninvolved comment:[edit]

Do we really need massive paragraphs taken from the text? Isn't that what Wikisource is for? If it was decided earlier that they were useful, or should be included, then I would appreciate a link to the discussion and you can then disregard this comment. 04:02, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

It appears this article has turned into some sort of battleground over a subject that could easily be reduced to a single summary paragraph. -- Stbalbach 15:01, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

I've removed the blocks of text -- it is unusual for an Encyclopedia article to have such massive amounts of quoted text, in particular when the only stated reason is because "they are often quoted", which really isn't a reason - famous for being famous. The better approach is to discuss why they are often quoted, with citations, and select a few sentences and point the reader to the main text on Wikisource. -- Stbalbach 03:14, 21 February 2007 (UTC)


Since the title of the book is The Innocents Abroad, should the article title be changed to match? -- Danny (talk) 14:40, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

I'm requesting a move to The Innocents Abroad, to match the cover of the book pictured and the first sentence of the article. I asked about this a couple weeks ago, and nobody's responded. I tried to make the change, but it won't let me move the page over the redirect. I hope an administrator can make the change, unless someone objects. -- Danny (talk) 11:20, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

Support This should be non-controversial. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:51, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
This article has been moved from "Innocents Abroad" to The Innocents Abroad as the result of a move request. Dekimasuよ! 12:48, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Thank you! -- Danny (talk) 21:35, 24 September 2007 (UTC)


This entire mess is, however.

Kathleen Christison, an American author who spent sixteen years as an analyst for the CIA was critical of Twain's descriptions of the Holy Land in a 1999 book:
In modern times, Twain's exaggerations have become grist for the mills of those who propagate the line that Palestine was a desolate land until settled and cultivated by Jewish pioneers. Twain's descriptions are high in Israeli government press handouts that present a case for Israel's redemption of a land that had previously been empty and barren. His gross characterizations of the land and the people in the time before mass Jewish immigration are also often used by U.S. propagandists for Israel.<:ref>K. Christison, Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy, Univ. of California Press, 1999; p16.</ref>... Twain's description of the all-Arab town of Nablus is typical... Calling the town Shechem, its biblical name, he described in detail the ancient roots of Jews there but never mentioned an Arab presence and only once used the name Nablus.<:ref>Christison, p20.</ref> In fact, Nablus had a population of 20,000 who were almost all Arabs apart from a few Samaritans.<:ref>B. B. Doumani, The political economy of population counts in Ottoman Palestine: Nablus, Circa 1950, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol 26 (1994) 1-17.</ref>
Historical revisionism cannot alter the fact that Mark Twain's descriptions of Palestine are vindicated by official British documentation:
Peel Commission

The Arab population shows a remarkable increase since 1920, and it has had some share in the increased prosperity of Palestine. Many Arab landowners have benefited from the sale of land and the profitable investment of the purchase money. The fellaheen are better off on the whole than they were in 1920. This Arab progress has been partly due to the import of Jewish capital into Palestine and other factors associated with the growth of the National Home. In particular, the Arabs have benefited from social services which could not have been provided on the existing scale without the revenue obtained from the Jews.


Up till now the Arab cultivator has benefited on the whole both from the work of the British Administration and the presence of Jews in the country...

The shortage of land is due less to purchase by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population. The Arab claims that the Jews have obtained too large a proportion of good land cannot be maintained. Much of the land now carrying orange groves was sand dunes or swamps and uncultivated when it was bought.


Woodhead Commission

It has been alleged that the Jews have acquired the best land in Palestine. It does not appear to me a fair statement. That much of the land now in possession of Jews has _become_ the best land is a truer statement...It was impossible not to be impressed when inspecting some of the bare rocky places where Jewish settlements have been or are in the course of being made. Such remarkable efforts may well disturb statistics.


All of this is tangential to the book itself, consisting of

  • one author who chooses to kick off her description of Palestine by controverting the only nineteenth century descriptions her readers are likely to have seen,
  • and some arguments she was wrong.

Actual scholarly discussion of IA confirms the obvious: that Twain is mocking the contemporary American travel books which show the Holy Land as a land of milk and honey, as he mocks their artistic pieties about Italy and Athens. None of this is relevant to the article, and we should have, at most, a two sentence summary, after the remarks on OT kingdoms being smaller than some towns. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:01, 22 September 2007 (UTC)


The portion I removed sounds as though it were from the mouth of a critic -- but which critic? --VKokielov (talk) 05:10, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Some encyclopedic changes[edit]

I started reading Innocents Abroad, and checked out the wiki entry. Saw the request for encyclopedic writing and started to work with the material and add content. I have moved two essays to the bottom of the wiki page for further consideration how they might be altered to reflect the encyclopedic tone and so on. I've also deleted some references that were unclear, and have so noted in the comments to my edits.

I don't have a lot of time for this project and I certainly do not want to interfere with a vision or a purpose that the original editors to this entry had in mind.

Best, Pinckney2007 (talk) 16:03, 13 December 2008 (UTC)Pinckney2007

Clean up in progress tag?[edit]


I removed this clean-up tag,

and I'm not sure what to what to insert in its place, or whether a replacement is required. I'd appreciate a reminder of the editing FAQ for wiki.

Best, Pinckney2007 (talk) 16:03, 13 December 2008 (UTC)Pinckney2007

Found the material from my user page![edit]

Pinckney2007 (talk) 16:02, 13 December 2008 (UTC)Pinckney2007 added signature

Posting to talk page[edit]

I'm not quite sure why we post twice when we edit a page, or who we talk to, when we post to the talk page, but I'll say that I've added in a couple of paragraphs,

Here's one for the overview of the book from my perspective:


At first blush, Innocents Abroad is an ordinary travel book. It is based on an actual expedition, in a retired Civil War ship (the USS Quaker City). The excursion upon which the book is based was billed as a Holy Land expedition, with numerous stops along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as a train excursion from Marseilles, France to Paris for the 1867 Paris Expedition, and a side trip through the Baltic Sea to Odessa, all before the ultimate pilgrimage to the Holy Land."

Also, I added in an explanation for why I gave little serial summaries of the first 12 chapters in an overview to that section.

Pinckney2007 (talk) 16:02, 13 December 2008 (UTC)Pinckney2007

Abbreviated chapter summaries[edit]

I abbreviated the chapter summaries to focus on unique features from the book, from sights described in the chapter, and/or links to important Mark Twain projects that include Innocents Abroad in their discussion

Thanks to my mentor Kevin I'm figuring out how to talk on the talk pages.  :)

Pinckney2007 (talk) 16:05, 13 December 2008 (UTC)Pinckney2007

Pabiggin's map[edit]

Wonderful addition. Thanks for sharing it! I wonder if there's a way to give it greater emphasis. I'm thinking of adding a parenthetical explanation that highlights the depth of content on that little link, so subtly placed among other stuff.

Pinckney2007 (talk) 23:31, 17 January 2009 (UTC)Pinckney2007