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Joan of Arc (Ignatius Press eBook)

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Very few people know that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote a major work on Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important but also his best work. He spent twelve years in research and many months in France doing archival work and then made several attempts until he felt he finally had the story he wanted to tell. He reached his conclusion Very few people know that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote a major work on Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important but also his best work. He spent twelve years in research and many months in France doing archival work and then made several attempts until he felt he finally had the story he wanted to tell. He reached his conclusion about Joan's unique place in history only after studying in detail accounts written by both sides, the French and the English. Because of Mark Twain's antipathy to institutional religion, one might expect an anti-Catholic bias toward Joan or at least toward the bishops and theologians who condemned her. Instead one finds a remarkably accurate biography of the life and mission of Joan of Arc told by one of this country's greatest storytellers. The very fact that Mark Twain wrote this book and wrote it the way he did is a powerful testimony to the attractive power of the Catholic Church's saints. This is a book that really will inform and inspire.


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Very few people know that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote a major work on Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important but also his best work. He spent twelve years in research and many months in France doing archival work and then made several attempts until he felt he finally had the story he wanted to tell. He reached his conclusion Very few people know that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote a major work on Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important but also his best work. He spent twelve years in research and many months in France doing archival work and then made several attempts until he felt he finally had the story he wanted to tell. He reached his conclusion about Joan's unique place in history only after studying in detail accounts written by both sides, the French and the English. Because of Mark Twain's antipathy to institutional religion, one might expect an anti-Catholic bias toward Joan or at least toward the bishops and theologians who condemned her. Instead one finds a remarkably accurate biography of the life and mission of Joan of Arc told by one of this country's greatest storytellers. The very fact that Mark Twain wrote this book and wrote it the way he did is a powerful testimony to the attractive power of the Catholic Church's saints. This is a book that really will inform and inspire.

30 review for Joan of Arc (Ignatius Press eBook)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alice Poon

    This novel was Mark Twain's last completed work which he considered to be the best of all his books. He claimed that he had spent twelve years in its research and two in writing. One of his key sources of research was Jules Quicherat's Proces de Condamnation et de Rehabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc As a historical novel, this is one of those that let me learn a great deal about the historical background and the historical character(s) while keeping me emotionally engaged with the plot. It was not a f This novel was Mark Twain's last completed work which he considered to be the best of all his books. He claimed that he had spent twelve years in its research and two in writing. One of his key sources of research was Jules Quicherat's Proces de Condamnation et de Rehabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc As a historical novel, this is one of those that let me learn a great deal about the historical background and the historical character(s) while keeping me emotionally engaged with the plot. It was not a fast read, but by the time I finished reading, I felt glad that I had picked up the book. As already mentioned in numerous other reviews, Twain's deep fascination with and affection for Joan of Arc shines through the entire novel. It's been pointed out that in writing this book, the author made a deliberate departure from his well-known comedic style, as he wanted readers to take it seriously. Be that as it may, I find that his innate sense of humor is all too readily discernible. Joan's story is without question a compelling and poignant one. The fact that an illiterate teenage French peasant girl was able to make such a stunning impact on late middle-ages history of France and England, more specifically on the outcome of the infamous Hundred Years' War, is reason enough for history lovers to read this important account of her humble and glorious life. As with many historical novels set around this period in Europe, religion plays an important part in the factual details and plot twists. In the case of Joan of Arc's story, this passage can best describe how some French Catholic priests, in depraved conspiracy with the English nobility, have a hand in deciding her tragic fate: The Church was being used as a blind, a disguise; and for a forcible reason: the Church was not only able to take the life of Joan of Arc, but to blight her influence and the valor-breeding inspiration of her name, whereas the English power could but kill her body; that would not diminish or destroy the influence of her name; it would magnify it and make it permanent. If the Church could be brought to take her life, or to proclaim her an idolater, a heretic, a witch, sent from Satan, not from Heaven, it was believed that the English supremacy could be at once reinstated."

  2. 5 out of 5

    booklady

    ‘I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none.’ ~Mark Twain When an author speaks so glowingly about his achievement, it is with trepidation and care a reader proceed with a review. Twain’s novel, of the full-title, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by Sieur Louis ‘I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none.’ ~Mark Twain When an author speaks so glowingly about his achievement, it is with trepidation and care a reader proceed with a review. Twain’s novel, of the full-title, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by Sieur Louis de Conte published in 1896, is something he has a right to love and I enjoyed it very much. First it is a novel—as opposed to a straight biography—albeit very extensively researched and with great attention to detail. It is told from the perspective of a fictional character, Louis de Conte, a childhood friend, and deeply devoted companion to Joan through her short life. De Conte’s late-in-life narrative of events which happened 60 years ago in his youth suffers no loss of passion for all the intervening time. De Conte loves Joan ... and does not bother to hide his feelings. We are assured from the beginning by the Translator that De Conte is a reliable narrator and indeed his devotion to Joan, omnipresence, storytelling ability, and humorous interludes more than endear him as the spokesperson. If he seems to equate Joan’s physical beauty with her spiritual holiness, he can be forgiven as a man who has carried a torch for his unrequited love a lifetime. One just needs to remember the source. The book is divided into three books: 1) the early days of youthful innocence spent in Domrémy which ended in Joan’s ‘call’; 2) Joan’s efforts to convince others of her Divine call to save France and her brave exploits in battle; and 3) finally her even more heroic solitary stand in court—deserted by all but her ‘Voices’ until she is tricked into signing a false confession and executed. One thing, however, surprised me. And maybe it shouldn’t have, I don’t know. Twain was after all an American, and meaning no disrespect to my own countrymen as a whole, but are we especially well-versed in royal etiquette? Read on. ‘The King seemed to hesitate – in fact, did hesitate; for he put out his hand and then stopped with it there in the air over the crown, the fingers in the attitude of taking hold of it. But that was for only a moment – though a moment is a notable something when it stops the heartbeat of twenty thousand people and makes them catch their breath. Yes, only a moment; then he caught Joan’s eye, and she gave him a look with all the joy of her thankful great soul in it; then he smiled, and took the Crown of France in his hand, and right finely and right royally lifted it up and set it upon his head.’ Surely Twain knew of the Divine right of kings, that all sovereigns ruled by God’s mandate. The king and/or queen’s authority was/is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy, which is why the Bishop, Archbishop or occasionally even the Pope crowned the monarch as God’s representative. No medieval prince in his right mind would touch his crown before it was bestowed, much less put it on his/her own head. In 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte departed from this tradition—along with many others—in crowning himself. But this was still 1429. (If you would like to see an excellent depiction of the scene in the French film, Jeanne la Pucelle (Joan the maid/virgin) check this out. Although a long book, Joan of Arc seemed to leave me wanting to know more about Joan rather than feeling satisfied. Still Twain has done her proud. 4.5 stars, the 1/2 star off for the royal faux pas. This is my new book to listen to while I exercise. I have had the audio forever and have no idea why it has taken me so long to get around to reading it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Why had I never heard of this book? I was an English major! I read lots and lots of lesser books in college and no one even breathed a hint that this book existed. Thankfully, I saw it on a friend's bookshelf, and decided to read it myself. About this book, Twain said: "I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. Why had I never heard of this book? I was an English major! I read lots and lots of lesser books in college and no one even breathed a hint that this book existed. Thankfully, I saw it on a friend's bookshelf, and decided to read it myself. About this book, Twain said: "I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others need no preparation and got none." This is a beautiful piece of historical fiction, written as though it were a translation of the writings of a childhood friend of Joan, who goes on to become her scribe. It is very different from the other Twain that I have read; it is free of humor and of biting satire. The nearest I can say is that it is like a love song. Twain's Joan is kind, gentle, true, patriotic, devout, humble, compassionate, courageous. Reading this book makes me want to meet her, and more, it makes me want to be like her.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain 3.5 stars I have never deemed myself a fan of Mark Twain, but I understand that this work is quite a departure for him. I enjoyed this book for the mere fact that I did not really know anything about Joan of Arc. I found the story intriguing and even touching at times. It was a slow start for me and I wasn’t sure I could get through it at first, but then it picked up in Part II. The narrative was extremely detailed but some of Twain’s humor and Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain 3.5 stars I have never deemed myself a fan of Mark Twain, but I understand that this work is quite a departure for him. I enjoyed this book for the mere fact that I did not really know anything about Joan of Arc. I found the story intriguing and even touching at times. It was a slow start for me and I wasn’t sure I could get through it at first, but then it picked up in Part II. The narrative was extremely detailed but some of Twain’s humor and great dialogue had me laughing here and there. I chuckled out loud when Noel and Louis were discussing how Joan had the gift of the “seeing eye” in which she was always able to perceive a man’s character even though outwardly he presented a different image. When asked who she had sent for to take charge of all the new recruits for the army, who were described as “unspeakable hellions, every one”…Louis said, “Why, she has sent for Satan himself—that is to say, La Hire---that military hurricane, that godless swashbuckler, that lurid conflagration of blasphemy, that Vesuvius of profanity, forever in eruption. Does he know how to deal with that mob of roaring devils? Better than any man that lives; for he is the head devil of this world his own self, he is the match of the whole of them combined, and probably the father of most of them.” Twain was mesmerized by his heroine. It is obvious throughout the book that he loved Joan and this narrative was his tribute to her life. It was almost like a love letter in some instances with the language he used to describe her virtues and presence. I was taken in as well by her story of unflagging belief, compassion, confidence and courage in the achievement of her spiritual mission. She was an archetype of Christ and other spiritual leaders who were martyred for their cause. In some of my research about this book, I came across a story about Mark Twain’s passion for Joan of Arc. In a recent article by Daniel Crown dated April 3, 2012, he writes: "The book has puzzled critics for over a century. Susan K. Harris, a Twain expert who teaches at the University of Kansas, helped produce the novel’s 1996 Oxford University Press edition. As she pointed out to me, “By the time he's writing Recollections, he's not a believer. He is anti-Catholic, and he doesn’t like the French. So he writes a book about a French-Catholic-martyr? Ostensibly, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.” Logical or not, Twain's passion for Joan of Arc was longstanding, and his public praise of her lavish. Writing in a 1904 Harper’s essay, he referred to her as “by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced.” In the same piece, he christened her “The Miracle Child” and “The Wonder of the Ages.” "On a December night in 1905, the New York City chapter of the Society of Illustrators managed to do something many thought impossible. With one calculated stroke they left Mark Twain, author and noted quipster, speechless. The writer had just risen to address the group. As he began to speak, a girl emerged from the back of the room. Her hair was cropped just below her ears; her face was angular but radiant. Underneath a ceremonial white robe, she wore the armor of a 15th-century French soldier. With eyes fixed on the author, she glided up the aisle between the tables carrying a laurel wreath atop a satin pillow. A reporter from The New York Times in attendance that night later wrote that the “company smile” Twain had exhibited for most of the ceremony faded. By the time the girl reached his table, “Twain had every appearance of a man who had seen a ghost. His eyes fairly started out of his head, his hand gripped the edge of the table.” She presented the author with the wreath, and he accepted it wordlessly. He remained silent until the model exited the room. As the seconds ticked away, Twain’s audience anxiously awaited his response. When the writer finally spoke, he did so slowly, carefully. “Now there's an illustration, gentlemen — a real illustration. I studied that girl, Joan of Arc, for twelve years, and it never seemed to me that the artists and the writers gave us a true picture of her. They drew a picture of a peasant. Her dress was that of a peasant. But they always missed the face — the divine soul, the pure character, the supreme woman, the wonderful girl. She was only 18 years old, but put into a breast like hers a heart like hers and I think, gentlemen, you would have a girl — like that." I am glad I had the opportunity of “meeting” Joan of Arc through the lens of Mr. Twain. Contrasted with the treachery and evil of her time, she was an amazing young woman who embodied all that is good about humanity. It was a privilege to have known her and feel of her spirit through the eyes of Sieur Louis de Conte aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Poet Gentleness

    "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Socrates I don’t believe in saints. I don’t believe in angels. My trust in people has been shattered during the last years. I have serious issues with faith and god, because many times I have wondered what I could have possibly done so wrong to deserve certain things that have happened to me. But I digress. Jeanne D’Arc has always seemed to me an insane woman; a created legend, almost a fairy - or a distorted - tale. How could a teenager, b "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Socrates I don’t believe in saints. I don’t believe in angels. My trust in people has been shattered during the last years. I have serious issues with faith and god, because many times I have wondered what I could have possibly done so wrong to deserve certain things that have happened to me. But I digress. Jeanne D’Arc has always seemed to me an insane woman; a created legend, almost a fairy - or a distorted - tale. How could a teenager, barely a woman, have won so many battles against powerful and knowledgeable English generals, in a few weeks, when they had dominated France for almost a century? Also, I happened to know well almost all the paths where her battles happened, having even lived and studied in Reims, in 1991, and visited its cathedral. I traveled up and down the LOIRE VALLEY three times, in comfortable cars, sleeping in posh hotels and enjoying the region's scrumptious meals and superb wines as I learned in bits and pieces of her campaigns and doubted the reality of it. It seemed an impossible feat. I can recall vividly Chenounceau and Blois (among other castles) but what ever came to my mind when I thought about them was Henry II (of France), Diane de Poitiers and Caterine De’ Medice and their political treatises and wars. Nothing brought me overdue enlightenment of Jeanne’s story - legend (?). It still baffles me that during the many times I studied in France and Switzerland not a single book or article on Jeanne’s story was brought forth for me to study, read and deepened my knowledge. I read Kafka, Ionesco, Becket, the Greek classics, the English classics, the French classics, et cetera, but nothing on Jeanne. In England, I could have believed it was done on purpose, but in France? It is also unbelievable that after all my years of traveling, living, studying abroad and being an avid reader, I'd never heard about this work by Mark Twain (probably because he is American.). When I visited Tours, in 1992, with its enormous fortress, I was even more skeptical about Joan's sanity, yet I was fascinated by that monstrosity and its link with D'Arc (FYI: I abhor war, yet I have a weird (?) interest on why people want to dominate others). A pity my husband was not very interested in visiting it. The years passed by and I didn't return to Jeanne D’Arc’s story again, until last year, when my youngest daughter, Giovanna, received The recollections as a Xmas gift from her History and Portuguese teachers. She was young for it, eleven y-old at that time, but as she had seen a film and had fell in love with Jeanne, she asked me to read it and tell her the story. In my hectic and chaotic life, I forgot about it. Last month, I was diagnosed with a serious allergy to tablets' and computers' glare, so I had to go back to paperbacks. I stumbled upon it last week, many months after Giovanna received it. The first shock came from knowing it was written by The Mark Twain. I must confess to my undying shame: I had never read anything by Twain. But perhaps, that was for the best, because in Twain’s words, his other novels have no comparison to this, (and I might have been disappointed if I had head Tom Sayer or Huckleberry stories before). Well, I will never know, but disappointment has never crossed my mind while reading 'Recollections'. Much on the opposite. In his autobiography, Twain says that "Recollections" is, without a doubt, his best work, and yet, the readers - and critics - shunned it. He conducted a long and deep research on Jeanne’s life. He poured in this book all his passion for an incredible, un (?)-believable child-teenager-woman, an old and faithful spirit trapped inside such a delicate and courageous child, who, since she was thirteen years old, knew she was destiny to fulfill a powerful order, even if it lead to her death, (that knowledge was spared to her last moment, because she had unwavering belief in what her “Voices” told her: her place in paradise was guaranteed). This books is powerful - and painful, sad even. It is not fast-paced, but it details and recounts battles, victories, defeats and utmost betrayal; her sadness of being not believed, her ultimate demise in a poignant and brilliant style. It is one of the finest books I have ever read. Its perfect romanticized and well-researched retelling of Jeanne’s story touched deep inside my unbelieving heart and broken spirit, making me even doubt my so ingrained disbeliefs. It’s long, slow paced, retold in a beautiful baroque victorian style, respecting the seriousness of the history, but it grabbed me from the beginning. I couldn't put it down and I read it in two seatings (life demanded a break to attend to my family and daily problems). I cried over many parts - silly parts, you may say, but endearing ones - I was enthralled with the delicate and yet determined will of a "peasant" girl, and her naïve friends - I don’t like those adjectives, every human being has their talents, hidden or not. They don’t need a master’s or PhD to prove their worth. Arrogance and self-awareness only bring pain and hurt others. Jeanned defied (?) nobles, generals, kings, powerful armies with humbleness and simplicity. Her ethos was incorruptible and her purposes to be the servant of something bigger - god, visions, voices, her own insanity (?) - would set France free of the gruesome English claws. She stayed an unwavering believer throughout all the hardship of a gruesome war and imaginable torture to come, never once faltering. NEVER ONCE, she failed to believe her mission, as for her god and/or his emissaries were her master and guides, whose orders she obeyed, in blind (?) faith and pure-hearted. I knew how Joan of Arc's life ended, and I began to fear how Twain's prose would address the horror of La Pucelle's demise. But I shouldn't have. Twain handled it masterfully, of course, by addressing the feelings of her only two remaining young friends, who followed her, still harboring hope that those she dedicated her whole short life would, at that last moment, save her. But royal politics, intrigues, and a coward minister, in fear of being surpassed by that intelligent and pure girl, got in the way. All the two friends could offer her was a small comfort in her last moments, due to strict and mean position of a greed man of cloth (view spoiler)[mean, sadist, and only interested only in achieving more power to himself, which he thankfully was never granted (hide spoiler)] . In the end, all said and done, Joan's story again proved to me: we are born alone, we live alone and we died alone. Often times, even if surrounded by ‘so-called-friends’ or ‘families’, our most trustworthy company is ourselves. If we still have faith in ourselves, we can't be undermined by psychological and physical torture. What touched me in the deepest way was the inevitable web that held her trapped, spun around her by those who were supposed to be her friends, (view spoiler)[and then deserting her, even those she put her trust on, even the king she returned to his throne (hide spoiler)] and how almost everyone stood aloofly, selfishly expecting her to pay dearly with her life for what she had done for their and her country's benefits. She could have stayed in her small country city, enjoying the simple pleasures of being a happy teenager in the cusp of womanhood, stitching and helping her mother. (view spoiler)[The ones who benefited from her unselfishly dedication, turned their back on her; they condemned her to a gruesome death - led her to it. (hide spoiler)] And yet, she died with a prayer on her lips for her king, her betrayers and a firm conviction that her soul was going to be saved. Such was her devotion that a few of her English enemies took pity on her. Before I finish, I must quote a passage that has been haunting me for a few nights after a recently calamity befell me. Of course I had been expecting such news every day for many days; but no matter, the shock of it almost took my breath away and set me trembling like a leaf. I suppose that without knowing it I had been half imagining that at the last moment something would happen, something that would stop this fatal trial: maybe that La Hire would burst in at the gates with his hellions at his back; maybe that God would have pity and stretch forth His mighty hand. But now—now there was no hope. Monsier Louis Le Conte, in the ‘Recolection’, by Mark Twain. My image of Jeanne is now this: Mine is an inept review of this outstanding workmanship. It's brilliant, masterfully written, sad, real… Read it. Rio de Janeiro, July 2014. P.S. - After writing my review, I was still surprised and motivated to continue researching Joan of Arc Mark Twain's passion. I came across this interesting article. link: http://www.theawl.com/2012/04/the-riddle-of-mark-twains-passion-for-joan-of-arc. It's worth reading!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I am extremely glad I read this book, but I can give it no more than three stars. I will explain, in the hope that other prospective readers can accurately determine if this book will fit the bill for them. Are you curious about the history of Joan of Arc? Are you interested in an accurate and detailed exposition? In such a case this book is for you. Although a book of historical fiction, it is accurate and detailed and well researched. Mark Twain considered this his best opus. I think I would ag I am extremely glad I read this book, but I can give it no more than three stars. I will explain, in the hope that other prospective readers can accurately determine if this book will fit the bill for them. Are you curious about the history of Joan of Arc? Are you interested in an accurate and detailed exposition? In such a case this book is for you. Although a book of historical fiction, it is accurate and detailed and well researched. Mark Twain considered this his best opus. I think I would agree. This book is the retelling of Joan’s experiences by Sieur Louis de Conte, aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens, her childhood playmate. This friend was there too, throughout all the events: battles, incarceration and court proceedings. What is fictional are his personal thoughts about Joan and his musings over the historical happenings. These thoughts are based on Twain’s twelve years of thorough research. He clearly admired Joan; this shines through. I am convinced I have been given a correct recount. You will learn about the Hundred Years’ War, about the political intrigues, religious and mystical beliefs prevalent of the times. To enjoy this book you must be interested and curious about history! It is a book about history. It is a book about the politics and machinations of the English and the French the plebeians and the Burgundians; it is a book about the controversy over religious beliefs. The setting is primarily northern France, and the time is the 1420s and 30s. It culminates with Joan’s famed burning at the stake in Rouen. When you close the covers of the book, you will understand in detail what has happened. I promise you that. However the prose, the philosophical musings of Louis de Conte are repetitive and tedious. The language fits those times, not ours. The book was first published in 1896, and the language is of those times. It is also hard to empathize with the characters. The detailed events make the story long and yet still only at the very, very end was I emotionally moved, exasperated by what happened to her. Only at the very end was I mad and furious and frustrated and felt like punching someone. Mark Twain was not a Catholic, and I am not even religious, so it is hard for me to believe in prophesies and religious incarnations. I was up against a wall; I could not believe; I just listened. Aha, that prophesy came true too! I read of it and thought it must have been so, but I cannot understand because I am not a believer. I just put it down to history and say that again real history is stranger than fiction. I would not recommend this book to those of you who want a good story where you “feel” for the protagonists, where the emotional connection is more important than the history. If you prefer a book of historical fiction that is more fictional than factual, then perhaps choose other books. I have yet to read The Maid or An Army of Angels: A Novel of Joan of Arc, but I will tackle them too. Someday….. I know the history now so I am a bit hesitant. I believe I will be annoyed if the fictional takes precedence over fact. I tend to want the truth….. Let me add, the book is not devoid of humor. Although dated, some of the lines of the dialog will surely have you laughing. I listened to the audio version narrated by Michael Anthony. He well captured Joan’s sentiments and vocal intonations, but his pronunciation of French phrases and cities and complete sentences was deplorable. Even the pronunciation of the city of Rouen was off. Please, if a book takes place in France, the French must be correct. Michael should have taken a course on French pronunciation! I am very glad I read the book because I now understand the history of Joan of Arc. I prefer fact over fiction, but the passage was tedious. It is also fun to have read Twain’s own favorite book! But it is nice that it is over. Deed accomplished :0) !!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Lee

    As Americans, we are required to consider "Huckleberry Finn" to be Twain's best work. It's the book in which Twain confronts racism and first proclaims that a white boy can have a black, escaped slave as a father figure. Twain confronted much of his America's foolishness in the raft trip down the river. He also at the end provided an easy answer: Jim was not an escaped slave after all, he'd been freed. Tom Sawyer could fix things without telling this. Perhaps one shouldn't criticize Twain for lov As Americans, we are required to consider "Huckleberry Finn" to be Twain's best work. It's the book in which Twain confronts racism and first proclaims that a white boy can have a black, escaped slave as a father figure. Twain confronted much of his America's foolishness in the raft trip down the river. He also at the end provided an easy answer: Jim was not an escaped slave after all, he'd been freed. Tom Sawyer could fix things without telling this. Perhaps one shouldn't criticize Twain for loving a character based on himself, much less for writing his own vision. Huck was brave enough to decide that he would aid Jim in escape. Twain delivered that decision without consequences. His "Joan of Arc" cannot be so delivered. He had a history book to follow. With no such option, twain focused on the humanity behind the story -- a humanity he so often despised. He begins with a story about the destruction of fairies by the adults of the village. He is already symbolically foreshadowing the tragedy of Joan's life. For doing what is right, for daring to be great, she must be destroyed. Twain wrote this story to criticize humanity at its worst. At the same time, he allows us through his narrator to love humanity at its best. He decries ignorance through his writing, as he always does. You have almost certainly read Huckleberry Finn, and perhaps Tom Sawyer. If you want to find out why Twain was truly great, look at some of his other novels and stories, and especially "Joan of Arc."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    After 12 years of research, the famous Mark Twain beautifully set down the story of Joan of Arc in a way that only a master storyteller could. What an amazing young woman she was! She was soft and humble as only a young person could be, and yet she had the courage and strength of a lioness. She could lead a charge into combat and then, after winning, comfort a dying enemy in her arms. That was the kind of woman that she was. Despite being called to a "man's work," she kept her femininity ever pre After 12 years of research, the famous Mark Twain beautifully set down the story of Joan of Arc in a way that only a master storyteller could. What an amazing young woman she was! She was soft and humble as only a young person could be, and yet she had the courage and strength of a lioness. She could lead a charge into combat and then, after winning, comfort a dying enemy in her arms. That was the kind of woman that she was. Despite being called to a "man's work," she kept her femininity ever present encouraging her soldiers to piety, showing compassion to those she battled, and always guarding her virtue. She listened to the voice of the Spirit and looked at others with what Twain called the "Seeing Eye." "[T]he common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul, finding there capacities which the outside didn't indicate or promise, and which the other kind of eye couldn't detect." What a great example on how to look at others. This gift of discernment is so important and something that we should work to develop. Joan reminds me of Marina in Shakespeare's Pericles. Both Joan and Marina could see past the outside (past the bad behaviors) and see the potential. And others always rise to the occasion when someone has faith in them. What if we always looked at our family members with the Seeing Eye? It would create such a change in our relationships. Rather than being annoyed with the kids' squabbles or irritated by a spouse's forgetfulness, we would champion those we love. We would cheer and uplift them and help them see their true identity--the person that they have always been and the person that they are meant to become. What if we could look at ourselves with the Seeing Eye? There would no more comparing the worst of ourselves to the best of others. No more worrying about weight or intelligence or coolness. Experiencing the quiet strength and security that comes from understanding our true nature and identity would allow us to go forth creating a better world through service and compassion. When the 19-year-old Joan of Arc was tried by the Church court for heresy, she courageously resisted all the snares set for her by the priests and lawyers. Despite digging into her past hoping to find proof with which to accuse her, they were daunted at every turn by her spotless reputation. Recognizing that they would need to deal treacherously with her, they sent a disguised priest, Nicolas Loyseleur, into Joan’s cell. He claimed to be her supporter and being a priest, he offered to officiate for her in the Sacrament of Penance. Having been denied the rites of the Church for so long, she eagerly poured her soul out to him in sacred confession, not realizing that the confidentiality she expected from the clergy had been breached. Her accusers listened in on every detail. Twice during her trials, Loyseleur thus dealt falsely with Joan. Later, when they could not get Joan to admit to the crimes of heresy, Loyseleur was one of the churchmen to vote for using torture to exact an admission of guilt. After the illegal series of trials concluded, Joan was finally sentenced to die. On the day of her punishment, she came forth to bravely confront death. Loyseleur frantically raced through the crowd and threw himself on his knees crying for her forgiveness. Twain wrote, “And Joan forgave him; forgave him out of a heart that knew nothing but forgiveness, nothing but compassion, nothing but pity for all that suffer, let their offence be what it might. And she had no word of reproach for this poor wretch who had wrought day and night with deceits and treacheries and hypocrisies to betray her to her death.” Joan of Arc is one of my heroes. She listened with spiritual ears, she saw with spiritual eyes, and she acted with spiritual strength. All young women should read this book as an example of the strength of femininity. In valiantly doing what she was called to do, she became a shining example of womanhood, charity and love.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Joan of Arc, called of God at the age of thirteen to save France in the 100 Year War against the English. At the age of seventeen she asked to have her own men at war and be sent to the king, or the Dauphin. She was denied the first time she asked and she then went a second time and she received the help of two knights. She was sent before the king and she gave him a sign, yet she was still sent before a jury of judges and priests to perceive if she was sane or a heretic. She passes with flying Joan of Arc, called of God at the age of thirteen to save France in the 100 Year War against the English. At the age of seventeen she asked to have her own men at war and be sent to the king, or the Dauphin. She was denied the first time she asked and she then went a second time and she received the help of two knights. She was sent before the king and she gave him a sign, yet she was still sent before a jury of judges and priests to perceive if she was sane or a heretic. She passes with flying colors. The king named her Commander in Chief and sent her to battle the English. In the space of only three months she made more progress than the French had in 96 years. She was wounded in two of the battles, yet was stalwart until the end. She was captured by the English in May of 1430 and was imprisoned until May of 1431, at which time she faced five trials to determine if she was a witch. She received no aid from the French, faced the trials on her own and yet she was tricked into signing a paper which she knew nothing of what was written upon it. In the end Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, innocent as she was. She was later retried and proven innocent 24 years later, she is now revered as a saint in the Catholic church. She is a Woman of God, pure and innocent. This is a must read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    So many people are unaware that Mark Twain wrote about Joan of Arc, yet this is one of the most thoughtful and charming of books, part historical novel and part loving biography. I join many others at goodreads in recommending this book as an outstanding read and a wonderful introduction to a fascinating period of history.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I had no idea that Mark Twain had written a book about Joan of Arc, and I happened to stumble across this book and I'm very glad I did. When I think Mark Twain, I only think about Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, and this is one that is probably way under everyone's radar. Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by the Sieur Louis de Conte, is a historical fiction account of the life of Joan of Arc. Conte tells this fascinating story and is an excellent narrator, starting with Joan as a young gir I had no idea that Mark Twain had written a book about Joan of Arc, and I happened to stumble across this book and I'm very glad I did. When I think Mark Twain, I only think about Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, and this is one that is probably way under everyone's radar. Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by the Sieur Louis de Conte, is a historical fiction account of the life of Joan of Arc. Conte tells this fascinating story and is an excellent narrator, starting with Joan as a young girl, then becoming her page, and standing by her side through her capture by the English and her very infamous trial where she was burned at the stake as a relapsed heretic. For such a short life, she accomplished so much and her life was very impactful in the grand scheme of history. Joan was only 17 years old when she valiantly lead the French army against the English in the battles of Orleans' and Pate'. In my limited reading of history, I keep thinking about "what-ifs". What if Joan hadn't risen from her very humble and modest origins to effectively become the savior of France and drive the English out of France? What if she had immediately been killed by the English? Europe as we know it today would be very much different, and France would have been absorbed into the Kingdom of England. It boggles my mind how Joan accomplished so much and was so effective at such a young age. The primary take away I got from this story is that Joan of Arc seemed to have a very similar story to Jesus Christ. She came from basically unknown/humble origins, she had an unshakable faith, and claimed that God and His angels spoke directly to her through visions and voices that came to her. She was also persecuted by leaders of the church, handed off to the secular arm/government to enforce her punishment and then put to death at a very young age because she was viewed as a threat and deeply feared by them. Her trial was completely and unfairly fabricated simply to convict her as a witch/sorceress and as an agent of the devil. There are so many parallels and I have to parse through fact and fiction or dramatic exaggeration that I'm sure were used to enhance the story, but she was seen as being the daughter of God and Divine by her contemporaries (and probably by herself). Joan of Arc's story is so fascinating and impractical that it is hard for me to believe it is true. She was a heroine/savior for France, and has been martyred as a Saint there. This book tells her unbelievable story very well, and I highly recommend it. I also recommend this LibriVox audiobook, it is free, and the reader was really great.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kristopher Swinson

    I'd already read a book on Joan in preparation for a trip to France, but a friend happened to mention this literally in the eleventh hour, so I took it with me. I wasn't disappointed. I always hated Twain's Finn and Sawyer, but curiously seemed to enjoy his Connecticut Yankee much more. Perhaps he should have stuck with historical fiction. This, his labor of love, stands out in more ways than one. Having actually looked long and hard into the obscure trial proceedings, Twain brought them to life I'd already read a book on Joan in preparation for a trip to France, but a friend happened to mention this literally in the eleventh hour, so I took it with me. I wasn't disappointed. I always hated Twain's Finn and Sawyer, but curiously seemed to enjoy his Connecticut Yankee much more. Perhaps he should have stuck with historical fiction. This, his labor of love, stands out in more ways than one. Having actually looked long and hard into the obscure trial proceedings, Twain brought them to life with a respect and angle others haven't approached. One sample (243): "The Bishop plagued her straight along, till at last she said, in a weary tone--'I came from God; I have nothing more to do here. Return me to God, from whom I came.' It was piteous to hear; it was the same as saying, 'You only want my life; take it and let me be at peace.'" But that's jumping in at practically the end of the story. It's a remarkable one, worthy of investigation. This remarkable woman, rather after my own heart (and in the remainder of this sentence, I'm not saying her near perfection of certain of my ideals is in any way suggestive that I approach her level), had never sworn (261); extended mercies like Captain Moroni (such as on 161), and didn't like to shed blood; defied her age in offering that to which Mormon is an exception (preface page quotation from Louis Kossuth: "Since the writing of human history began, Joan of Arc is the only person, of either sex, who has ever held supreme command of the military forces of a nation at the age of seventeen."); and, like Joseph Smith, only learned long after the onset of her visions (40) how and by whom deliverance would come...herself. Yet she herself would, following a year of harsh captivity and interrogation, betrayed by those who owed her the most, only find deliverance in the fire of martyrdom. What Twain offers is a lively pretended first person eyewitness account to Joan's life. Its sympathies are not undue, nor is its praise exaggerated. Read it, and be moved. Historical research, conducted by some so impartially or skeptically as to practically be hostile, confirms that aspect which also holds true of Joseph Smith's life: even her enemies were astounded by her accomplishments wholly beyond her every opportunity and the time period itself. Her character could "be measured by the standards of all times without misgiving or apprehension as to the result. Judged by any of them, it is still flawless" (xi). Those who have questioned the rightness of military action in any time or capacity often judge it by the unfortunate character of certain actors therein, or whatever color or interpretation can be given as to causes for entry. Just as Twain could comment on Joan's unselfishness (xii), exemplified in her merely seeking tax exemption for her hometown when offered a request by the king, Elder Maxwell has spoken of genuine leadership in times of crisis: "Of unselfish George Washington it has been written: 'In all history few men who possessed unassailable power have used that power so gently and self-effacingly for what their best instincts told them was the welfare of their neighbors and all mankind' (James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man [1984], xvi). Power is most safe with those, like Washington, who are not in love with it!" The correct analysis of history is not that strong measures are never required, but that they are best directed by spiritually sensitive individuals, such as those who can retain their humanity even amid the carnage imposed by the decisions of others. (Joan often expressed that she'd rather be at home weaving or keeping sheep but, with Joseph Smith-like alacrity, she knew whatever God commanded was right; also similar to Captain Moroni's day, she begged the English to simply go home and remove the necessity for conflict--but she was perfectly willing to bring it to them rather than leave her people in the dust.)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Terrence

    It is unbelievable that after all the years of school through completing two masters degrees, I never heard of this work by Mark Twain AKA Samuel Clemens until I found it on the shelves of a religious bookstore in Emmitsburg, MD on a pilgrimage to visit the shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. And yet, Mark Twain wrote that he considered Joan of Arc the best of all his books, "twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing." Why do the so-called intellectual elite omit mention of this book It is unbelievable that after all the years of school through completing two masters degrees, I never heard of this work by Mark Twain AKA Samuel Clemens until I found it on the shelves of a religious bookstore in Emmitsburg, MD on a pilgrimage to visit the shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. And yet, Mark Twain wrote that he considered Joan of Arc the best of all his books, "twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing." Why do the so-called intellectual elite omit mention of this book when discussing the works of Mark Twain? Please note that Mark Twain placed on the page preceding his dedication of the book to his wife this quote from Louis Kossuth, a Hungarian freedom fighter of the 18th Century: "Consider this unique and imposing distinction. Since the writing of human history began, Joan of Arc is the only person of either sex, who has ever held supreme command of the military forces of a nation at the age of seventeen." As a re-educated former male chauvinist father of four daughters, I had to read this book. Of all the reviews, please refer to Jenny's review inserted 18 May 08. She captured the very essence of what any reader should draw from reading this book. Here is link St. Joan, ora pro nobis.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Randolph

    This is the only book out of thousands that I have ever abandoned and never come back to. It is so dull and plodding that I just could not pay attention to it. I tried the audio book and just could not concentrate on it. Then I tried to read it with a similar result; I would go through pages and not retain a thing due to its dilatory pace. Maybe it gets better but I have a better use for my time. Twain considered it his best book (?).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    I did not realize that Twain dabbled in hagiography at the end of his life. Apparently closely adhering to the historical record, this is an account of Joan’s life narrated by a fictional childhood companion. The tone was adoring. I think I like Twain as a humorist better. But I did enjoy learning more about Joan of Arc.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Mark Twain faithfully captures the history in novel form. As far as I can tell every event and biographical detail was accurate to history. We see Joan as child growing up in a peasant town, her remarkable acceptance by the Dauphin to lead his army, her even more remarkable victories as she inspired the French, the treachery of the new King’s court that led to her capture, her indomitable spirit as she repeatedly rebuffs the prosecutors at her trial, the fraudulent conviction, and her tragic exe Mark Twain faithfully captures the history in novel form. As far as I can tell every event and biographical detail was accurate to history. We see Joan as child growing up in a peasant town, her remarkable acceptance by the Dauphin to lead his army, her even more remarkable victories as she inspired the French, the treachery of the new King’s court that led to her capture, her indomitable spirit as she repeatedly rebuffs the prosecutors at her trial, the fraudulent conviction, and her tragic execution. If Joan comes across as a bit two dimensional, that is because Twain was constrained to follow the history or he would have had to invent human failings for her, and that would have come across as trite since we know that those failings were not documented. But more important, I believe Twain intentionally strove to idealize Joan because it suited his artistic purposes. The deeper you get into the novel, the more Twain is bitter with the treachery Joan suffered. Twain’s misanthropic themes come to the forefront, and having Joan as the pure, saintly youth serves as a contrast to the treacherous figures that betray her. Twain really is in love with Joan of Arc because she transcended human malice and corruption. Reading the last part of the book was difficult. It was like watching train wreck where the disaster is unavoidable. Poor Joan. I have nothing but contempt for Cauchon (the chief prosecutor) and those that participated in the farce. They wanted this poor young lady burnt and they lied and deceived her without an ounce of pity or shame. I pray that Joan received some justice in eternity. Twain did a masterful job with the ending. He captured Joan’s indomitable spirit, Cauchon’s malicious workings and his increasing frustrations as Joan repeatedly rebuffed him, and the overall sense of pity of the tragic outcome. Reading through the novel, Joan of Arc became very dear to me. I gave this novel a solid four stars. It helps to read the history and have Joan’s historical timeline available. There is much available on the internet. The novel also got better as it went along, as Joan became more separated from the historical events and placed in a confrontational trial setting where her personality was able to be more fully developed. This novel is definitely a departure from Twain’s comic writings. Nonetheless his themes of the virtues of a natural, simple person faced against the corrupted society are there. Twain was not a Roman Catholic, but he embraced it in the novel, and even linked Joan’s virtues to it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Wiswell

    This novel should have dispelled a lot of insipid stigmas about Twain’s writing, but nobody read it. The Europeans didn’t read it because it was an American tampering with their history (and a very unflattering bit of their history, too). The Americans didn’t read it because it wasn’t funny. Most professional critics wouldn’t admit they disliked this book just because it wasn’t funny because that would also admit how dumb they really are. But it stands: this a long, largely serious novel about a This novel should have dispelled a lot of insipid stigmas about Twain’s writing, but nobody read it. The Europeans didn’t read it because it was an American tampering with their history (and a very unflattering bit of their history, too). The Americans didn’t read it because it wasn’t funny. Most professional critics wouldn’t admit they disliked this book just because it wasn’t funny because that would also admit how dumb they really are. But it stands: this a long, largely serious novel about a strong, intelligent, passionate and sympathetic female protagonist, based on the real events, not showing any sympathy or bias to Twain’s home country (it didn’t exist in Saint Joan’s time). In one book he proved he could write something other than humor, that he could write a deep female character, and that he didn’t have to be “American” in his American prose. It is tragic for its obvious conclusion, but it is more tragic for all the build of her journey and the people around her. And don’t take my sternness too far – there are funny bits. One of her hangers-on, the Paladin, is funny in a comic-relief sort of way, and his life culminates in a great scene that serves as a commentary on the nature of oral storytelling. There are elements natural to Saint Joan’s life that comment on humanity’s problems: scathing looks at deceit, duplicity, chauvinism and authoritarianism. But this book isn’t about a parable, one theme, one lesson or one argument; as another deviation from Twain’s stereotypes, it’s about a person. A person well-worth a great author.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    Beautifully written and historically accurate depiction of the now Saint Joan of Arc. Twain was meticulous with his research, taking twelve years, with another two to write the story. Twain is clearly mesmerized with his subject, repeatedly touching on her youth, intellect, beauty, and impeccable character. It was fascinating to read about this incredible woman, who had no education (she couldn't read or write) yet she was able to conduct complex military operations. She was diminutive in size, Beautifully written and historically accurate depiction of the now Saint Joan of Arc. Twain was meticulous with his research, taking twelve years, with another two to write the story. Twain is clearly mesmerized with his subject, repeatedly touching on her youth, intellect, beauty, and impeccable character. It was fascinating to read about this incredible woman, who had no education (she couldn't read or write) yet she was able to conduct complex military operations. She was diminutive in size, yet led her troops to battle. She was treated horrifically during her imprisonment and multiple trials. I cried when she was burned at the stake. This was the only thing of which she was terrified. I liked this quote that Twain included at the beginning: Consider this unique and imposing distinction. Since the writing of history began, Joan of Arc is the only person, of either sex, who has ever held supreme command of the military forces of a nation at the age of seventeen. Louis Kossuth

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christina McQueen

    This book is a beautiful marriage of heroic truth/historical accuracy and beautiful story-telling. I have been looking for an uplifting book, and who better to turn to than Joan of Arc? Honestly, it's the best book I've read in a long while for many reasons. I've never really paid much attention to Twain before (not even sure I've read any of his other books?) but that's alright because according to him, this is his best and favorite of all his works. It IS long, and I'll admit I skipped some pa This book is a beautiful marriage of heroic truth/historical accuracy and beautiful story-telling. I have been looking for an uplifting book, and who better to turn to than Joan of Arc? Honestly, it's the best book I've read in a long while for many reasons. I've never really paid much attention to Twain before (not even sure I've read any of his other books?) but that's alright because according to him, this is his best and favorite of all his works. It IS long, and I'll admit I skipped some paragraphs, but this book landed in my lap just when I needed it to. I would recommend to ANYONE who enjoyed (or could push through) Twain-like writing and who needed a role model. Joan of Arc is truly my inspiration.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Hadrian

    This is a unique offering from Mark Twain - it is neither the scathing attack on humanity of his later years, nor the gentle mocking of his earlier career - although a bit of that does creep in - he cannot wholly deny that impulse. Instead, he shows a picture of chivalry and adventure and some genuine piety and courage - a bit different from Connecticut Yankee or The Prince and the Pauper. He paints Joan of Arc as a reverential hero, pious and fearless and brave, and a martyr. Best suited for the This is a unique offering from Mark Twain - it is neither the scathing attack on humanity of his later years, nor the gentle mocking of his earlier career - although a bit of that does creep in - he cannot wholly deny that impulse. Instead, he shows a picture of chivalry and adventure and some genuine piety and courage - a bit different from Connecticut Yankee or The Prince and the Pauper. He paints Joan of Arc as a reverential hero, pious and fearless and brave, and a martyr. Best suited for the young who want a peerless adventure story from history, and the very old, who want some last glimpse in the better parts of youth in humanity.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    I thought this book was simply fantastic, Twain clearly did his research (12 years of it, in fact) and also loved his subject. I knew so little about this great heroine and now I feel like I have a full picture of who she was and what she accomplished in my head. And it was simply a pleasure reading it too, Twain keeps his irony and sense of humor except in the grimest parts of the story, and he thankfully keeps those short and straightforward, never laboring on or over dwelling on the details o I thought this book was simply fantastic, Twain clearly did his research (12 years of it, in fact) and also loved his subject. I knew so little about this great heroine and now I feel like I have a full picture of who she was and what she accomplished in my head. And it was simply a pleasure reading it too, Twain keeps his irony and sense of humor except in the grimest parts of the story, and he thankfully keeps those short and straightforward, never laboring on or over dwelling on the details of the crimes commited against her. Recommend reading for just about anyone.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robin King

    I find Twain's eloquent writing style captivating. I had to stop several times to remind myself that the author was not there and that he was writing as a fictional character. Most of us know at least a little about Joan of Arc, but this book gave me a whole new insight into her mission and eventual death. Twain's descriptions of real life characters, though somewhat bias by his own leanings, became real to me. I actually felt like I knew them. Even though this book is one of Twain's less comed I find Twain's eloquent writing style captivating. I had to stop several times to remind myself that the author was not there and that he was writing as a fictional character. Most of us know at least a little about Joan of Arc, but this book gave me a whole new insight into her mission and eventual death. Twain's descriptions of real life characters, though somewhat bias by his own leanings, became real to me. I actually felt like I knew them. Even though this book is one of Twain's less comedic accomplishments, I still found many instances of humor.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    Brilliant! One of the top five best books I've ever read. Mark Twain's writing is amazing. I was so captivated by this book, and by its subject. I *love* Twain's style in this book. It is far and away the best book he's written. He wrote with such warmth, such rich detail, and obviously did an amazing amount of research. I learned so much and was enthralled with Joan of Arc. Twain had me laughing out loud, while I was also in such sorrow for the fate of this young girl. This book truly impressed Brilliant! One of the top five best books I've ever read. Mark Twain's writing is amazing. I was so captivated by this book, and by its subject. I *love* Twain's style in this book. It is far and away the best book he's written. He wrote with such warmth, such rich detail, and obviously did an amazing amount of research. I learned so much and was enthralled with Joan of Arc. Twain had me laughing out loud, while I was also in such sorrow for the fate of this young girl. This book truly impressed my heart.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alesia

    Very few people know that Mark Twain actually wrote a book about Joan of Arc. It took him years and many trips to France to collect the necessary information. The story of the famous peasant girl is told in a lively manner, with a special Mark Twain touch, but preserving the historical preciseness as well. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the story of Joan of Arc.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    Virtually unknown compared to Twain's other books, this is a terrific, well-researched read ... probably the best bio of Joan of Arc ever written.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sharif

    At first I thought I'd heard this story before, but not quite like this. I genuinely appreciate historical fictions, and I have always admired Joan of Arc. How could you not be fascinated by a God-fearing seventeen-year-old who changed the history of the world. Pros: the prose was enjoyable and allowed the reader to feel as though we lived in the camp and fought right alongside the Maid of Orleans. It's interesting that the characters that are brash and annoying initially become rather endearing At first I thought I'd heard this story before, but not quite like this. I genuinely appreciate historical fictions, and I have always admired Joan of Arc. How could you not be fascinated by a God-fearing seventeen-year-old who changed the history of the world. Pros: the prose was enjoyable and allowed the reader to feel as though we lived in the camp and fought right alongside the Maid of Orleans. It's interesting that the characters that are brash and annoying initially become rather endearing in the end. Cons: The storyteller introduced far too much of his own thoughts and feelings into the narrative. Sometimes I felt like telling him "It's not about you, it's about her." I would've loved to hear Joan's innermost thoughts, but fortunately Twain expertly described every gesture and expression leaving little doubt of her feelings and her beautiful heart. This book reminded me of Judge Deborah in the book of Judges. In both examples we see men who were reluctant or unwilling to wage war unless accompanied by women. Her primary opponents were envious generals and treacherous priests, mainly because she was a woman ... regardless of her extraordinary accomplishments. Why is it that men, especially those of the cloth, take issue with women in leadership? Didn't God appoint a female leader in ancient Israel? (Judges 4) Isn't it written, there is neither male nor female but we are one in Christ? (Gal. 3) This book is a must read for any historical fiction enthusiast and the best by far that I've read from Mark Twain.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine Myers

    Mark Twain's biography of St. Joan For Christians, the saints are extraordinary role models. Whatever one's interests or occupation, there's a saint for that. Joan of Arc, obviously, is there for soldiers and patriots, but she also serves even in our time as an example of perfect obedience and humility and deference to authority, as well as a paragon of courage and conviction. Mark Twain, writing on a subject unlike his other more typical books like Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn, does not display the w Mark Twain's biography of St. Joan For Christians, the saints are extraordinary role models. Whatever one's interests or occupation, there's a saint for that. Joan of Arc, obviously, is there for soldiers and patriots, but she also serves even in our time as an example of perfect obedience and humility and deference to authority, as well as a paragon of courage and conviction. Mark Twain, writing on a subject unlike his other more typical books like Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn, does not display the wit and liveliness of those works, but the character of Joan shines like a precious gem in the darkness of war, violence, death, and betrayal. I found the greater part of the book, which follows Joan and her soldier-narrator through the various battles in the Hundred Years War, sometimes tedious and repetitive, despite flashes of Twain's trademark humor in the interactions between the soldiers under Joan's command. But what was there was a realistic, no doubt familiar even to modern veterans, rapport between men in combat. The last chapters, focused on Joan's captivity and ultimate martyrdom, where the narrator follows her, acting as scribe through her trial rather than soldier, are harrowing; although between his description of her grim environment in prison and the cruel machinations of her inquisitors the narrator passionately reveals the Joan whose courage and fierce honesty wins over a generally hostile crowd of spectators, planting hints of how her humiliation and cruel death ultimately leads to her vindication, beatification, and the crown of sainthood. Twain apparently considered this his favorite, if not his best, work.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    Cloying historical fiction about a girl led by angels to become a knight fighting for her king. Where is the satirist who mocks religion, chivalry, monarchy?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    "Very few people know that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote a major work on Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important but also his best work. He spent twelve years in research and many months in France doing archival work and then made several attempts until he felt he finally had the story he wanted to tell. He reached his conclusion about Joan's unique place in history only after studying in detail accounts written by both sides, the French and the Englis "Very few people know that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote a major work on Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important but also his best work. He spent twelve years in research and many months in France doing archival work and then made several attempts until he felt he finally had the story he wanted to tell. He reached his conclusion about Joan's unique place in history only after studying in detail accounts written by both sides, the French and the English. A remarkably accurate biography of the life and mission of Joan of Arc told by one of this country's greatest storytellers." ~~back cover I read 88 pages of this book, and I was struggling all the way. I couldn't get comfortable with the writing style -- I had expected much more of Mark Twain's notorious tongue-in-cheek humor than was evident so far. At 88 pages Joan hadn't even left her native village, so I could tell it was going to be a long slog through the remaining 364 pages, so I gave up and moved on.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Feisty Harriet

    Did you know Mark Twain wrote a lengthy biography on Joan of Arc? Did you also know that he considers it his best and most important work? At age 17 Joan was appointed the Commander in Chief of the French armies by Charles VII, the uncrowned heir to the broken French thrown. At that point France and England were 90-some odd years in to the Hundred Years War, 6 or 7 years earlier Henry V had won English accolades at the Battle of Agincourt when his tiny force defeated tens of thousands of French Did you know Mark Twain wrote a lengthy biography on Joan of Arc? Did you also know that he considers it his best and most important work? At age 17 Joan was appointed the Commander in Chief of the French armies by Charles VII, the uncrowned heir to the broken French thrown. At that point France and England were 90-some odd years in to the Hundred Years War, 6 or 7 years earlier Henry V had won English accolades at the Battle of Agincourt when his tiny force defeated tens of thousands of French troops; he also won the title The Butcher of Agincourt by the French citizens. France was on her knees and unable and unwilling to fight. Joan rallied the troops and led them into battle for 10 weeks, breaking the English army and forging the way for the French to force the Brits out of their country. She crowned Charles VII at his coronation ceremony. She was then given strict orders not to march on Paris and liberate the capital…so she stayed in the country, fighting small skirmishes here and there, including one where she was captured by the British and then sold to a twisted French priest who imprisoned her for 9 or 10 months and then put her on trial for witchcraft as she attributed all her military victories to God. Joan was on trial daily for 3 months without knowing the exact accusation, without legal representation, and using only her wits and tongue to fight against 50 or 60 French judges who were insistent she be killed. It still took them 3 months to find anything with which to kill her. (It should be noted the French King Charles VII did nothing to intervene on her behalf, because he was a scoundrel and a miscreant.) At the end of the day, the French priests tricked illiterate Joan into signing a confession of all sorts of sorcery, and then they burned her at the stake. I loved this book, I loved that I knew many of the stories and captains due to my nerdy love for all things Shakespeare (Henry V and Henry VI, Pt 1 both deal with the Hundred Years War with France, the latter featuring Joan of Arc as a character), and I really enjoyed reading more about the French army and position. I was also enraged by some of the ridiculous and asinine claims the French Catholic church/priests brought against her, all of which was recorded in the months-long trial documents. These men were English sympathizers and were promised titles and money from the English if they besmirched Joan’s character and eliminated the growing support she rallied for the French cause. Twain tells his story from the perspective of a young man, a childhood friend from Joan’s village, who follows her to battle to be her scribe. I can’t aware this 5 stars because Twain is so enraptured with his subject that he literally cannot find a single thing negative to say about Joan of Arc…in almost 500 pages. Now, I realize she was canonized as a Catholic Saint not long after her death (she was posthumously re-tried and declared a martyr), and that she spoke with God and angels on a regular basis, but it is hard for me to believe that she never once said an unkind word or crossed her eyes at a kitten, nothing. After a couple of hundred pages I wanted some tiny little acknowledgement of humanness, and Twain didn’t deliver on that, so, minus one star.

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