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Personal Recollections of Joan Of Arc - Volume 1: By Mark Twain - Illustrated

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Few people know that Mark Twain wrote a major work on St. Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important but also his best work, spending 12 years in research and many months in France doing archival research. A book to inform and inspire its readers.


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Few people know that Mark Twain wrote a major work on St. Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important but also his best work, spending 12 years in research and many months in France doing archival research. A book to inform and inspire its readers.

30 review for Personal Recollections of Joan Of Arc - Volume 1: By Mark Twain - Illustrated

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lila Kims

    This is the best of Mark Twain's works that I have read so far. He claims that Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is the best of all his novels, and I think I might agree with him (I'd have to read all his novels, of course). Believe me, it's amazing. His is the kind of prose that makes your heart beat a little faster. The way he strings words together is powerful and beautiful and AAAAAAHHHH. I just love his style so, so, so much. <3 <3 <3 All his characters blew me away, especially This is the best of Mark Twain's works that I have read so far. He claims that Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is the best of all his novels, and I think I might agree with him (I'd have to read all his novels, of course). Believe me, it's amazing. His is the kind of prose that makes your heart beat a little faster. The way he strings words together is powerful and beautiful and AAAAAAHHHH. I just love his style so, so, so much. <3 <3 <3 All his characters blew me away, especially Joan. I worried I wouldn't like her, but even though she was pretty much perfect, she was still extremely likeable and felt so real to me. At the same time, I was in awe of her. I mean... there's no way not to be in awe of her - especially not in this book. I don't know how Twain did it, but it's brilliant. Another thing I worried about was that the side characters would be bland or even virtually nonexistent. NOT SO, MY FRIEND. The narrator, the Paladin (loved the Paladin <333), Noel, La Hire, Catherine Boucher... They all popped off the page. It was just really good. You should read it. *finger guns*

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    I ordered this book not realizing it was fiction....based on historical accounts, but fiction. The work is criticized for "romanticizing" the story of J of A, which I can both appreciate and challenge, thinking, how can you NOT romanticize such a story, and figure? Joan of Arc looms large in our psyches and collective unconscious as both a historical and archetypal figure. Once I transcended the dichotomy of history/mythology and allowed myself to appreciate the value of both, I began to enjoy I ordered this book not realizing it was fiction....based on historical accounts, but fiction. The work is criticized for "romanticizing" the story of J of A, which I can both appreciate and challenge, thinking, how can you NOT romanticize such a story, and figure? Joan of Arc looms large in our psyches and collective unconscious as both a historical and archetypal figure. Once I transcended the dichotomy of history/mythology and allowed myself to appreciate the value of both, I began to enjoy this book and found myself inspired by the work. I'll get to the true history of Joan soon enough, and for now am enjoying this jaunt through Twain's imagination.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Review to be attached to Volume 2.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Thom Swennes

    What better inspiration for a great storyteller than the most beautiful, modest and controversial French girl general Joan of Arc. Mark Twains Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is a fascinating story of love, faith and innocence. His own love of history adds not only color but humor in a story of danger, turmoil and massive suffering. I feel sure that he fell in love with pure and humble heroine of the Hundred Years War. She is masterfully portrayed as the flowering bud of innocence that What better inspiration for a great storyteller than the most beautiful, modest and controversial French girl general Joan of Arc. Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is a fascinating story of love, faith and innocence. His own love of history adds not only color but humor in a story of danger, turmoil and massive suffering. I feel sure that he fell in love with pure and humble heroine of the Hundred Years War. She is masterfully portrayed as the flowering bud of innocence that saved the French, put the crown on a French king and paid the ultimate price. Her matter-of-fact certainty of calling inspired her countrymen to think the unthinkable and do the undoable. That’s why I can’t help but think Mark Twain had a love of this heroine of Orleans. He modeled her as the red rose of femininity with the spirit of a stallion and the heart of a lioness. By loosely using scanty fact, she and her time are presented to the reader in a timeless account of a very short life. The story bristled with nonessential scenes and conversations that are pure Twain. At one point he transmits an argument as to the guilt of a man’s stomach if only the head was evil. Although the argument was complete nonsense Twain presented it beautifully. To my amazement this isn’t one of his better known works as I see a man here at the apex of his art. First published in 1896 this book was acclaimed as a masterpiece but was later sorely criticized after the author’s death. I think all criticisms absurd and this book should take its rightful place in American literature. I highly recommend it to all Twain lovers and anyone that loves to believe in the power of the innocent.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rogerio

    This is really a great work by Mark Twain. The prose and richness of detail is superb, especially when reconstructing events that happened 500 years earlier. I always wanted to read about Joan of Arc and this is a great start, easy for all ages and levels. Detailed and captivating with good background research also.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Grant Frazier

    5 stars!!! I read the volume for a school project, and ended up loving it. Told from the perspective of Joan's secretary, the story of her heroic victories and heart-wrenching martyrdom is brought to life. Great read, I'd recommend it to anyone.

  7. 5 out of 5

    G L Meisner

    This was probably one of the best pieces of Historical Fiction I've read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    This was a very interesting book. I would give it a rating of 3 as far as how much I liked it while reading it, but I'm raising my rating to a 4 because I really learned a lot. It was not mere entertainment. It took effort to read it, but I found that effort rewarding. I read the entire work collected in one volume rather than split into three volumes. I read it for my book group which was good, because I would not likely have picked it up otherwise. In fact, I had no idea Mark Twain had ever This was a very interesting book. I would give it a rating of 3 as far as how much I liked it while reading it, but I'm raising my rating to a 4 because I really learned a lot. It was not mere entertainment. It took effort to read it, but I found that effort rewarding. I read the entire work collected in one volume rather than split into three volumes. I read it for my book group which was good, because I would not likely have picked it up otherwise. In fact, I had no idea Mark Twain had ever written anything about Joan of Arc. This was the last book Twain wrote, after he was already famous for books like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Twain worked on his historical fiction account of Joan of Arc for 12 years, ten years of intensive research and two years of writing it. He considered it his finest work, though it has not remained popular. Apparently Twain admired Joan of Arc for most of his life, ever since he had read about her when he was a young man. He was intrigued and inspired by her. I did not think Twain was very religious, but he wrote this book from a perspective of faith. He was convinced that Joan was genuine and miraculous and he works hard to convince the reader. He has a point: Given her background and situation, how could she ever have accomplished what she did, if she were not inspired and aided by God? This is a serious work rather than humorous. But there are still traces of Twain's trademark wit and satire, particularly in characters such as the Paladin. The book is written in a slower, older, romantic style. There are long passages of flowery description which I started just skimming after a while--I could only endure so much about Joan's bucolic, pastoral childhood. Twain idolizes her to the point of claiming she was the most innocent, pure, pious, beautiful, accomplished, intelligent, charming, perfect person ever to live. While I can certainly believe Joan was inspired, I would have preferred to see her portrayed as human, too. On the other hand, the evil, conspiring bishop who condemns Joan to death on false charges, is described as horribly ugly, warty, fat, etc. It can be seen as a literary device, but it is also obviously a fallacy to assume that someone who is beautiful inside must also embody perfection on the outside, or that a loathsome character would naturally be physically repulsive, as well. So attitudes like that made this book feel old to me, too. But it is old; it was first published in 1896. Twain also romanticizes war as glorious and exciting much of the time, yet other times he will shock the reader by describing how a cannonball suddenly killed a child. While many details of Twain's narration are fictional, I learned a lot of history from this book. For instance, I knew about the famous Battle of Agincourt mostly from the English perspective because of Shakespeare's play Henry V and Kenneth Branagh's excellent movie version of that play. But Twain's narration shows the conquering English from the French perspective, that the English were the aggressors and terrorized the French to the point that the whole country was totally demoralized until Joan of Arc arose to give them courage and faith and lead them to victory. I also learned a lot about the weak, indolent French king who listened to bad advisors and nearly spoiled Joan's victories. She believed her mission from God was to lead the army and see the king crowned at Rheims, and she did that. But afterward when she was captured, the king did not ransom her when he could have. Instead, he left her to die. Yet her victories against the English still prepared the way for the end of the war and kept France intact as the nation it is today. I also learned a lot about the details of Joan's trial and execution for "heresy." In the 1400's, no one questioned the reality of Joan having visions. They only wanted to know if the visions were from God or from the devil. An ecclesiastical court had earlier examined Joan and found no fault in her. Yet the charges against her in the court which condemned her to death were things like the fact that she wore male clothing to battle. Points that we find crazy today, they took seriously. Twain shows Joan's lack of education as a downfall in the end. Because she was illiterate, she was tricked into signing a false confession. Also, she did not know that she could appeal her case to the Pope, to an ecclesiastical court in Rome. If she had done that, she would likely have been acquitted. The corrupt judge's motives for condemning Joan were political and also personal greed because the English bribed him. So she died young at only 19 years old as a religious martyr. But her influence has been lasting. The Catholic Church has since "rehabilitated" Joan of Arc and designated her as a Saint. This review is much longer than I normally write, sorry.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jefferson Fortner

    I have always been a huge Mark Twain fan, but this one didnt do it for me. I have read that Twain thought it was his best book, and that the critics do not agree with that assessment. I am closer to the critics in opinion. It actually starts out well, for the first third of the book, while Joan is trying to raise the Siege of Orleans and while she is trying to get the Dauphin to follow her to Rheims to be crowned as king. However, as soon as Joan is captured the story becomes laborious. I have always been a huge Mark Twain fan, but this one didn’t do it for me. I have read that Twain thought it was his best book, and that the critics do not agree with that assessment. I am closer to the critics in opinion. It actually starts out well, for the first third of the book, while Joan is trying to raise the Siege of Orleans and while she is trying to get the Dauphin to follow her to Rheims to be crowned as king. However, as soon as Joan is captured the story becomes laborious. Throughout the book, Joan never develops as a character; she is a saint, and an uninteresting one, first to last. However, Twain does have one comic character, “The Paladin,” who breathes a bit of life into the tale and captures a hint of what was always the best of Twain’s work. Unfortunately, that character dies defending Joan when she is captured and the fun is over. Twain’s sort of asexualized admiration for this “pure” girl becomes excruciatingly boring. Still, I am glad I finished it. Now, I never have to finish it again. I will only go back to the beginning and follow the adventures of “The Paladin”

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    The Personal Recollection of Joan of Arc was one of the best books I have ever read. I definitely give this book 5/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone. The story is from the perspective of one of Joan of Arc childhood friend, The Sieur Louis De Conte. The book is of him reflecting back on memories that he had of Joan of Arc as he was with her throughout her life. It was fantasizing to see how she acted like a young girl to the way that she led armies as a teenager. The personal Recollection The Personal Recollection of Joan of Arc was one of the best books I have ever read. I definitely give this book 5/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone. The story is from the perspective of one of Joan of Arc childhood friend, The Sieur Louis De Conte. The book is of him reflecting back on memories that he had of Joan of Arc as he was with her throughout her life. It was fantasizing to see how she acted like a young girl to the way that she led armies as a teenager. The personal Recollection of Joan of Arc was an inspiring read and one that I plan to reread in the future.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Bragg

    Such a beautiful interpretation of a story that is as much fact as legend. It feels like a fantasy story with a shining hero overcoming fantastic adversity. As I started it, it felt like I was reading a fairy tale. The prose felt like poetry. I could imagine reading this to a child (at least the first half...it gets quite dark...surprise, surprise). I have almost no knowledge of the Joan of Arc story, so I have no idea how historically accurate it is (another reviewer called it a biopic, which I Such a beautiful interpretation of a story that is as much fact as legend. It feels like a fantasy story with a shining hero overcoming fantastic adversity. As I started it, it felt like I was reading a fairy tale. The prose felt like poetry. I could imagine reading this to a child (at least the first half...it gets quite dark...surprise, surprise). I have almost no knowledge of the Joan of Arc story, so I have no idea how historically accurate it is (another reviewer called it a biopic, which I think is a good description), but the storytelling is masterful.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eddie

    So far I have very much enjoyed Joan of Arc. The story is pretty amazing and Joan is a person who we can all learn from. I didn't give it 5 stars because I felt that the "storyteller" (her secretary in the story) is a little slow moving through the story and gets hung up on complimenting her over and over to the point of exhaustion (mine). But all in all, I've enjoyed learning more about Joan's endeavors, makes me want to know where line between fiction and non-fiction/history is drawn.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brian Cohen

    Excellent reading. Well paced, interesting, exciting, and even though its not one of his humorous books, quite funny. The characters are all incredibly visualized, and its a pleasure to take part on their adventure. The story is told by one of Joans friends and confidants, not by Joan herself. The events were thoroughly researched by Twain, but I suspect he blends facts with a heavy dose of imagination. He does bring Joan to life, though. Looking forward to Part 2. Excellent reading. Well paced, interesting, exciting, and even though it’s not one of his ‘humorous’ books, quite funny. The characters are all incredibly visualized, and it’s a pleasure to take part on their adventure. The story is told by one of Joan’s friends and confidants, not by Joan herself. The events were thoroughly researched by Twain, but I suspect he blends facts with a heavy dose of imagination. He does bring Joan to life, though. Looking forward to Part 2.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Thuan

    this review is for book 1 and 2. one of the best books ive read. i never knew much about joan of arc before this, but now i love her. mark twains love for joan shows on every page, in every sentence. joan of arc is probably the most remarkable person ive read about. she was incredible. i love this book. it was so entertaining. i really love joan of arc niw, she was such an inspiring person.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cherylg

    Epic👍👍👍👍👌👌👌👌👌💥💣💫📿 There in the midst of the fighting... was a girl? Oh, and she was kicking butt. Wow!!! Its the Maid of Orleans! Whohoo!!! JOAN OF ARC!!!!! 👍👌💥💣💫📿📿Its all about God Epic👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👌🏻👌🏻👌🏻👌🏻👌🏻💥💣💫📿 There in the midst of the fighting... was a girl? Oh, and she was kicking butt. Wow!!! Its the Maid of Orleans! Whohoo!!! JOAN OF ARC!!!!! 👍🏻👌🏻💥💣💫📿📿Its all about God

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennae

    I listened to this on audio. I enjoyed the parts about Joan, but all the ramblings about other characters and the tree I felt were a bit long. I would have liked it better if it had been a little more concise. I do like the story of Joan and the inspiration of her character and faith.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jessie Barrett

    Hands down, the most beautiful account of Jean of Arc.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Bobbitt

    What an interesting book. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be taken seriously or just serve as a nice anecdote collection, but it's well-written and translated.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Trish Hughey

    Love Mark Twain, love Jeanne darc, how was I not going to love, love this book? And it did not disappoint. Love Mark Twain, love Jeanne d’arc, how was I not going to love, love this book? And it did not disappoint.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    3.5 stars

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bernadette

    I had to read it twice because its so unlike what I expected. I think this is his best work- even though it took sone getting used to. A far cry from Huck or Tom. I had to read it twice because it’s so unlike what I expected. I think this is his best work- even though it took sone getting used to. A far cry from Huck or Tom.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julie Wilka

    Very long book and worth every minute!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Mark Twain called this his favorite book. The subject is treated very seriously, and many of his fans prefer his other books that have a stronger vein of humor. He wrote the book before the Catholic church made her a Saint, and perhaps the book might be considered a kind of prophesy, for he makes it clear that she did not deserve to be burned. Twain's biting sarcasm made a few appearances. For example, at the end of one chapter denies the charge that she had cursed, saying it was not in her Mark Twain called this his favorite book. The subject is treated very seriously, and many of his fans prefer his other books that have a stronger vein of humor. He wrote the book before the Catholic church made her a Saint, and perhaps the book might be considered a kind of prophesy, for he makes it clear that she did not deserve to be burned. Twain's biting sarcasm made a few appearances. For example, at the end of one chapter denies the charge that she had cursed, saying it was not in her nature. In the next chapter, the judge at her trial roundly curses a subordinate, and it appears to have been very much his nature. Apparently, the judge, Bishop Pierre de Couchon, was promised by the English that he would receive an archbishopric if he could get rid of Joan in a way that would not make her death a rallying cry to the French. I don't think he got it; In another place, Joan declares that even if she should confess under torture, that she would afterwards deny it, insisting that it was not she, but the torture that so spoke. Twain's narrator marvels at Joan's wisdom, noting that "everyone" always knew that torture would produce truth, but that Joan's comments were like a revelation to him that this isn't so. Twain was, no doubt, tweaking the common knowledge of his day about the efficacy of torture. Unfortunately, people today remain convince that torture is justified in pursuit of truth. Joan and Twain are right, but people remain people, I guess. I have considered Joan one of my ideals since my college days, having read L'Alouette for French class and Shaw's St Joan in those days.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Darling

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was clearly a monument to a great woman whom Twain admired immensely. One can't help following along with his esteem as he moves from virtue to virtue. At the same time, he doesn't allow the reader to forget that he is being romantic. The main character takes the reader into his confidence about his own romantic notions, his absolute devotion to Joan, and his inability to think ill of her. In this way the reader is reassured that the author knows exactly what I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was clearly a monument to a great woman whom Twain admired immensely. One can't help following along with his esteem as he moves from virtue to virtue. At the same time, he doesn't allow the reader to forget that he is being romantic. The main character takes the reader into his confidence about his own romantic notions, his absolute devotion to Joan, and his inability to think ill of her. In this way the reader is reassured that the author knows exactly what he is doing and how it will be perceived. And yet he continues to the end with his unabashed tribute. In spite of his devotion, Twain goes some way in removing a bit of the legend from the truth. At the same time, the reader walks away with the inclination to believe in Joan's voices and their divine source. If she was mentally ill, then she was crazy like a fox. If she was a deceiver, her lie was completely convincing and held up under every scrutiny, and yet she delivered. One cannot help doubting that a young, illiterate farm girl could come up with all she did without divine intervention. Mark ... Joan, how did you do it? Read Joan of Arc for a different view of Mark Twain and for a grand introduction to a controversial historical figure. Read it for the simpler side of great literature, for Joan will never enter the ranks of Huck Finn. However, there is still a good drink of truth to be gained at this fountain.

  25. 5 out of 5

    calliopeswhisper

    For me this is Twains greatest work. I was so involved in the story I couldnt put the book down. Joan of Orleans is one of the most interesting characters of French history.Not to much is known about here upbringing and early life. What we do know is that she was able to to something no grown man of here time was able to. She is very fascinating and has a mysterious aura. Came the voices she heard from god or an illness? We may never know,but we can take here has great example of what we are able to For me this is Twain’s greatest work. I was so involved in the story I couldn’t put the book down. Joan of Orleans is one of the most interesting characters of French history.Not to much is known about here upbringing and early life. What we do know is that she was able to to something no grown man of here time was able to. She is very fascinating and has a mysterious aura. Came the voices she heard from god or an illness? We may never know,but we can take here has great example of what we are able to archive even in the most of unlikely circumstances. This book tells the story of her who went from poor French peasant to general of the French army in a time that had a completely different picture of woman and there place in society. The part I liked the most was the chapters about here trial and execution. It was heartbreaking and hard to swallow ,but contained the sad truth that often in history we killed our greatest teachers because we were not ready for their truth. Maybe today we don’t burn people on the stack yet we silence them in other ways due to them making us feel uncomfortable in our worldview. However in the case of Jean this wasn’t very successful her memory lives on till today. She was revived from her status as heretic and is now a saint and national symbol of France. Interesting how fate takes its turns. If you love Twain,Joan or medieval themed books please read this one.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jay Magidson

    This is one of those great books that will change your life. Twain considered this his best work. I believe he worked on it for over ten years. The characters come to life in Twain's capable hands. Yes there is humor, excitement, adventure, but it is no fluff piece. It is a serious work of history, albeit historical fiction. You know the basic story, but you don't know what went on around Joan to get her to to become someone so special in history. Did she save France from absorption into Great This is one of those great books that will change your life. Twain considered this his best work. I believe he worked on it for over ten years. The characters come to life in Twain's capable hands. Yes there is humor, excitement, adventure, but it is no fluff piece. It is a serious work of history, albeit historical fiction. You know the basic story, but you don't know what went on around Joan to get her to to become someone so special in history. Did she save France from absorption into Great Britain, possibly. Did she hear God's word, she is certain she did, and so are those who followed her. A teenage girl rose to lead France to defend herself - that is history. That she was discarded to be burned at the stake, that was cowardice. Read this book! Note (I refer to all volumes as one book).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was an interesting book. It is so different from Twain's comedic works. What really surprised me was the detail, down to the way various battles progressed. He must have spent so much time in research. Not that I would use this as a historic text! Clearly, Twain greatly admired Joan of Arc and made no effort to remain objective. That's OK, because it isn't that kind of book. He writes in the persona of Joan's personal secretary (she was unable to write, so she would have needed someone to This was an interesting book. It is so different from Twain's comedic works. What really surprised me was the detail, down to the way various battles progressed. He must have spent so much time in research. Not that I would use this as a historic text! Clearly, Twain greatly admired Joan of Arc and made no effort to remain objective. That's OK, because it isn't that kind of book. He writes in the persona of Joan's personal secretary (she was unable to write, so she would have needed someone to do that for her) and childhood friend. From his perspective, Joan truly does see and hear heavenly messengers and is completely prophetic. After all, so little is really known about Joan of Arc, doesn't everyone pretty much just decide how they want to view her and proceed under that premise?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gale Brow

    Mark Twain was a Godsend, no doubt. His humor and his books lift us all but this particular book was beyond even his normal writing skills. Knowing that he researched the book for so many years and then was able to put it together as a story of history which was written so that it flowed like a great adventure; which of course it was an incredible adventure. He was able to tell this incredible adventure in a way that brought Joan to life as a real person, not as many historical documents are Mark Twain was a Godsend, no doubt. His humor and his books lift us all but this particular book was beyond even his normal writing skills. Knowing that he researched the book for so many years and then was able to put it together as a story of history which was written so that it flowed like a great adventure; which of course it was an incredible adventure. He was able to tell this incredible adventure in a way that brought Joan to life as a real person, not as many historical documents are written with just the historical facts through at the reader. This book is the book that I continually give, buy and then give away again. It is an incredible read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vickie

    I wish I would have read this before I read The Maid. It was harder for me to read since MT tends to go off on little tangents, which might have made the book more interesting if I wasn't intent on mainly learning about Joan of Arc. I'm not sure if I'll go on to read Volume 2 and 3.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kesha

    "Whatever thing men call great, look for it in Joan of Arc, and there you will find it." Joan of Arc stories can't be beat. Why is this book not so well known? Twain said it is his favorite of the books he wrote.

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