Following the Equator - a journey around the world v.2
by Twain, Mark
pub. by Harper and Brothers, NY 1899 - - volume VI (6) of the Author's National Edition - The writings of Mark Twain (series) - - isbn (none) - - - - black and white frontspiece - The Mates shadow froze to the deck photos - - 362 p. total
Samuel Clemens ( Mark Twain ) is writing about his trip around the world in this 2 volume work. This is a description of volume 2.
This book was written during his lecture tour trip around the world to make money to repay his creditors. Twain traveled with his family. It started in New York in 1985. The second volume begins 23 December 1895 with his leaving Sydney, Australia and steaming to Ceylon aboard the Oceania described as a comfortable ship. In Ceylon he remarked on how beautiful the locals were, and how beautifully they wore their colorful clothes.
His next port of call was in Bombay, India. He took on the necessary man-servant, a bearer, who he kept for most of his Indian visit. As his name was un-pronouncable Twain renamed him Satan, which served both quite well. In Bombay Twain met a living deity, who he unexpectedly found charming. He also described a Zorasteran funeral and other things among them some discussion of the Thugee cult whose members murdered for money and were the scourge of much of India.
From there he proceeded to Allabad, India by train, describing the travel in detail. Then to Benares and description of the religious activities there.
Next he traveled to the capitol, Calcutta. It was HOT. He took the train to Darjeeling at an altitude where it was much less hot. Part of the way back involved a free run down the steep railroad tracks as fast as they could freely run. Dangerous but fun.
There were several chapters describing the great Mutiny and the killing of many Englishmen. Some of this in great detail. Some descriptions of Delhi. He also visited the Taj Majal. He explained how the Sutee worked (wives hurling themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands, and who it seemed to do it as a duty without reservation, or complaint. ) The family sailed from Calcutta toward the end of March stopped a day at Madras, 2 or 3 days in Ceylon and went on to Mauritious.
Mauritious Island, which was traded back and forth between Britain and France. He arrived in Port Louis. The then current governament and culture was strongly French.
The next stop was in Durban, South Africa. Here Twain tried to make sense out of the recent hostilities between the British settlers and the Boers. On the whole his reportage was very interesting to me. It was very much different from what I had read from biograhies of Baden-Powell who had participated in that war. It is interesting what over 100 years of history how the understanding of events changes. Twain describes the Kimberly diamond mines as I have never read of before, and how the DeBeers company came to own them.
There was a short bit at the end of the S. Africa bit about a medical person who rose to prominence as Dr. Barrie, who upon death was discovered to be a woman.
They sailed on 15 July aboard the steamer Norman. They made a short stop at the Madeira Is and arrive in Southhampton, England ending the circumnavigaion.
These short stories of his travels are classic Mark Twain in his glory. It is a beautiful read for any one who appreciates the truly American literary art. - Please read this book.
~ 2017-02-26 ~
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