Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mark Twain's India.....not much has changed!

"In Agra and its neighborhood, and afterwards at Delhi, we saw forts,
mosques, and tombs, which were built in the great days of the Mohammedan
emperors, and which are marvels of cost, magnitude, and richness of
materials and ornamentation, creations of surpassing grandeur, wonders
which do indeed make the like things in the rest of the world seem tame
and inconsequential by comparison. I am not purposing to describe them.
By good fortune I had not read too much about them, and therefore was
able to get a natural and rational focus upon them, with the result that
they thrilled, blessed, and exalted me. But if I had previously
overheated my imagination by drinking too much pestilential literary hot
Scotch, I should have suffered disappointment and sorrow."

Mark Twain, Following the Equator

One day I was doing some research on trying to find some quotes about India....when I stumbled upon one by Mark Twain. Further research led me to what has been described as one of his "least known works of literary"......a book called FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR, A JOURNEY AROUND THE WORLD.

I found the entire work no cost, but I believe that I would truly enjoy acquiring a copy in "hardback"; a bonus would be if I could find a copy that was printed close to the year it was first published, in 1897.

This book chronicles his journeys, part of which he spent in India. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about India through his was his first visit to India as any writer, he has chosen to write about the aspects of his visit that left an indelible impression on him.

While this may have been a "sleeper" when compared to his other works; not as notable or as well read by comparison to others, I have found a "connection" and I am thoroughly enjoying every word he has penned!

Have you ever given some thought to this.....about what makes a book or movie a "sleeper".....when the author, actor or director has created what some would herald as a masterpiece in his/her past?

Without getting too "deep" in my theories on this matter.....I think in the case of Twain chronicling his "Journey"..... it is simply his inability to "connect" with his audience, largely American, who were not well traveled and could not make a connection to his words.....they could connect easily to the mischievousness and "adventures" of a Huck Finn....but found it difficult to connect to his description of his experiences while on his journey....thousands of miles away from their own, with no familiar characters to relate too.

What is amazing to me, is that his words have struck a very common chord with my experience.....our family experience.....since we have been living, working and enjoying our time in India.

Here is something that many of you may find interesting; whether you are from India.....or living in another part of the world and are thinking about visiting......Twain's words, written over 115 years ago, have relevance to the India of today.

You may find it difficult to so many positive changes have taken place since India has gained it's Independence from the British......even in the last 10 years, but it is INCREDIBLE to learn that much is still the same...similarities exist and are intertwined with life in India today.

I have provided the link to the website that has the entire book online.....Twain's time in India begins in Chapter 38 when he sails to Bombay.....and ends in Chapter 61.

Here are some of the buildings, mosques, temples, and tombs that have "thrilled, blessed and exalted" me.....since discovering them.

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