MARK TWAIN AND THE UNITED KINGDOM: A PECULIAR RELATIONSHIP?
Only scattered pieces remain of the project of a travelogue on England that Mark Twain planned in the wake of The Innocents Abroad (1869), the bestseller that had established him as a renowned traveler-writer. The baffling renouncement may be found in the author’s self-confessed unwillingness to water down his usual caustic humor in the context of the hearty welcome he received as soon as his first trip to the United Kingdom. Attentive readers, though, may find such explanation frustrating, given Twain’s sometimes ruthless treatment of other countries he also held in great esteem, as was the case with India in Following the Equator (1897).
In order to analyze the question of Twain’s puzzling treatment of the United Kingdom in the context of his travel writing, this paper starts by providing a mostly factual presentation of his stays in the United Kingdom before concentrating on the textual aspect, highlighting the particular importance of London in the author’s assertion of himself among the greatest literary masters.