A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain: Summary & Quotes

Tina earned an MFA in Creative Writing, has several published novels and short stories, and teaches English and writing.

Mark Twain’s, ”A Tramp Abroad,” takes his talents across the Atlantic to Europe. In this lesson, you will travel through his summary and review some of the more prominent quotes from the book.

Who, What, and When

In ‘A Tramp Abroad,’ Mark Twain is the tramp, and he and his friend, Harris, are abroad, investigating life throughout eastern and southern Europe. Published in 1880, this novel explores Twain’s adventures from Germany through places like France, Italy, and Switzerland. Like many of Twain’s novels, this tale intermixes Twain’s real-life experiences with his creative imagination. Join our quest as we peruse the summary and explore various quotes about the tramp and his travels.

Landscapes

Landscapes

Transports, Landscapes, and Legends

Boats, trains, and Alpine litters come in quite handy for the travelers, the latter of which is a cushioned box held up by two poles and carried by groups of strong porters. As they traverse the lands, they find solace. Twain describes: ”It was all the way downhill, and we had the loveliest summer weather for it. . .we. . .stretched away on an easy, regular stride, down through the cloven forest, drawing in the fragrant breath of the morning in deep refreshing draughts, and wishing we might never have anything to do forever but walk to Oppenau and keep on doing it and then doing it over again.” Their travels, however, were not always as pleasant. ”There was no level ground at the Kaltbad station; the railbed was as steep as a roof; I was curious to see how the stop was going to be managed. But it was very simple; the train came sliding down, and when it reached the right spot it just stopped–that was all there was ‘to it’–stopped on the steep incline. . .”

Twain and Harris trek from the low lands to the highlands. Twain robustly describes the landscapes. ”The neighboring country had a very different shape, at that time–the valleys have risen up and become hills, since, and the hills have become valleys.” He invites us into to his hotels and allows us to stroll along as he explores. Of Wimpfen, he writes, ”It was very picturesque and tumble-down, and dirty and interesting. It had queer houses five hundred years old in it, and a military tower 115 feet high, which had stood there more than ten centuries.”

Twain intermixes subtle details of the cities and towns with snippets of historical insights. He explains how Frankfort, while Charlemagne and the Saxons chased one another (the truth of whom chased and of whom was being chased is still unknown), was built to commemorate the chase. There are legends, the Lorelei, that of Dilsberg Castle, and, of course, the Rhine legends. ”All tourists mention the Rhine legends–in that sort of way which quietly pretends that the mentioner has been familiar with them all his life, and that the reader cannot possibly be ignorant of them–but no tourist ever tells them.” Twain strives to be unlike most tourists.

Interacting with Others

Interactions

Partners, Patriarchs, and People

Alas, Twain and Harris were not alone. They converge with, converse with, and canoodle with a myriad of characters. We meet Mr. X, young Z, Rev. Mr., a rich farmer and his daughter, fruit peddlers, questionable couriers, the Empress of Germany, and Mr. Baedeker, the oft incorrect writer of tourist guide books. Of the characters, Twain provides hearty description, often sprinkled with humor. ”One of these waitresses, a woman of forty, had side-whiskers reaching half-way down her jaws. They were two fingers broad, dark in color, pretty thick, and the hairs were an inch long.” We meet shop owners who ”. . .detest the English and despise the Americans; they are rude to both, more especially to ladies of your nationality and mine.” We find animals like the ant, which Twain observes as being so strong that ”. . .we had not suspected the presence of much muscular power before.” We become acquainted with the chamois, ”. . .a black or brown creature no bigger than a mustard seed; you do not have to go after it, it comes after you; it arrives in vast herds and skips and scampers all over your body, inside your clothes; thus it is not shy, but extremely sociable. . .”

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Adventures

Adventures

Activities and Adventures and Lessons Learned

As they intermingle, Twain and Harris partake in various activities, from attending German plays to scaling the Alps. Twain even has time to ”experiment with my photographic apparatus.” Twain and Harris shop, raft, witness quarry blasts, visit the birthplace of Old St. Nicholas, and observe others bathing in the ringworm infested baths. They ”jodeled,” and as Twain emphasizes, such an activity is ”pronounced yOdling–emphasis on the O.”

They observe local fanfare, like duels, first among the Heidelberg students. ”The famous duel-fighting is confined to the ‘corps’ boys.” And the rule about dueling is that ”. . .there must be three duels on each of these days; there are generally more, but there cannot be fewer.” There’s a rule ”. . .which forbids social intercourse between members of different corps. . .” And, we learn that there is no rule that those who duel do not talk about the duels.

Throughout Twain’s adventures, he becomes a learned man of language, introducing us to a wealth of words, like: ‘certainement,’ ‘gebirge,’ ‘gmwkwllolp,’ and ‘begraben.’ He quips about government. ”That’s the difference between governments and individuals. Governments don’t care, individuals do.” And, he observes the majestic qualities of nature. ”A man who keeps company with glaciers comes to feel tolerably insignificant by and by.” While the tramp and his friend abroad have a multitude of stories to tell, we realize that there’s no place like home. ”Europe has many advantages which we have not, but they do not compensate for a good many still more valuable ones which exist nowhere but in our own country.”

Lesson Summary

In Mark Twain’s 1880 novel, ‘A Tramp Abroad,’ he takes us on a European adventure. We observe the remarkable landscapes throughout eastern and southern Europe. He teaches us about the cultures and the characters with whom he interacts. He adds humor and his signature anecdotes, keeping us entertained, so that we, too, might travel as he someday.

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Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain (Over 1,400 results)

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A Tramp Abroad – Classic Illustrated Edition

Published by Independently published, 2019

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Condition: Good. Item in good condition. Textbooks may not include supplemental items i.e. CDs, access codes etc.

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A Tramp Abroad: Volume 2

Published by Adamant Media Corporation, 2001

Used – Softcover
Condition: VERY GOOD

Paperback. Condition: VERY GOOD. Light rubbing wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins not affecting the text. Possible clean ex-library copy, with their stickers and or stamp(s).

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Tramp Abroad

Published by HarperCollins, 1978

Used – Softcover
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Paperback. Condition: GOOD. Spine creases, wear to binding and pages from reading. May contain limited notes, underlining or highlighting that does affect the text. Possible ex library copy, will have the markings and stickers associated from the library. Accessories such as CD, codes, toys, may not be included.

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A Tramp Abroad (Economy Editions)

Published by Dover, 2003

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Condition: VERY GOOD

Paperback. Condition: VERY GOOD. Light rubbing wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins not affecting the text. Possible clean ex-library copy, with their stickers and or stamp(s).

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A Tramp Abroad

Published by Blue Unicorn Editions

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Paperback. Condition: VERY GOOD. Light rubbing wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins not affecting the text. Possible clean ex-library copy, with their stickers and or stamp(s).

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A Tramp Abroad (Penguin Classics)

Published by Penguin Classics, 1997

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Condition: Good. Item in good condition. Textbooks may not include supplemental items i.e. CDs, access codes etc.

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A Tramp Abroad

Published by HarperCollins, 1977

Used – Hardcover
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Condition: Good. Good condition. Acceptable dust jacket. A copy that has been read but remains intact. May contain markings such as bookplates, stamps, limited notes and highlighting, or a few light stains.

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A Tramp Abroad

Published by Spellmount Publishers, 1985

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Hardcover. Condition: VERY GOOD. Light rubbing wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins not affecting the text. Possible clean ex-library copy, with their stickers and or stamp(s).

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A Tramp Abroad – Volume 01 (Paperback)

Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, United States, 2018

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Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. A Tramp Abroad is a work of travel literature, including a mixture of autobiography and fictional events, by American author Mark Twain, published in 1880. The book details a journey by the author, with his friend Harris (a character created for the book, and based on his closest friend, Joseph Twichell), through central and southern Europe. While the stated goal of the journey is to walk most of the way, the men find themselves using other forms of transport as they traverse the continent. The book is the fourth of Mark Twain’s six travel books published during his lifetime and is often thought to be an unofficial sequel to the first one, The Innocents Abroad.

A Tramp Abroad PDF

The success of Twain’s first collection of travel memoirs, The Innocents Abroad, inspired a return to Europe for another look at some of the countries and landmarks that initially dazzled the author and his companions. In A Tramp Abroad, Twain’s abundant humor waxes as freely as ever; this time, however, his amusement bears a more cynical cast, as he regards the grand tourist sights in Innocents through older and more experienced eyes. The seriousness of the author’s second impressions provides an interesting subtext to the overall jocularity of his narrative, making this volume a milestone in the Twain oeuvre and a must for his legions of admirers. Appendix.

Chapter List (55 chapters):
Reviews

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User reviews (10)

oscarwilde87_1

A Tramp Abroad gives an account of one of Mark Twain’s journeys through Europe. It is one of the author’s travelogues in which he shares his observations while ‘tramping’ through Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy. ‘Tramping’ here includes the ascent of Mont Blanc by telescope. With a book as this you cannot really tell what exactly it is about apart from saying what I just said. You’d either have to tell it all or just leave it. I decided to leave it for the interested readers to explore. Just imagine an American traveling through Europe at the end of the 19th century.To my mind there are certain things that make this book an interesting, if unconventional, read. First, there is Twain’s gift for humorous depictions of people and places. Twain manages to tell his stories in a lighthearted fashion that actually makes you laugh out loud at times. Second, A Tramp Abroad contains various drawings made by the author himself to support his stories with some sort of ‘proof’. Those drawings further contribute to the satirical way this book is written in. Eventually I have to say that I liked how Twain constantly tries to convince the reader of the truthfulness of what he’s telling. At numerous points in the book, the author uses footnotes to heighten his credibility. There is even an appendix to fit in all the accounts Twain could not get into his main narrative. This last aspect is somewhat ironic as the main narrative is just an unconnected telling of stories in which the narrator often digresses into things that are only remotely relevant to his story. To give potential readers some idea of what I especially liked about this book and about Mark Twain in general I chose some quotations that I find quite revealing as to Twain’s style. Personally, I think Twain is a genius.I have since found out there is nothing the Germans like so much as an opera. They like it, not in a mild and moderate way, but with their whole hearts. This is a legitimate result of habit and education. Our nation will like the opera, too, by and by, no doubt. One in fifty of those who attend our operas likes it already, perhaps, but I think a good many of the other forty-nine go in order to learn to like it, and the rest in order to be able to talk knowingly about it. The latter usually hum the airs while they are being sung, so that their neighbors may perceive that they have been to operas before. The funerals of these do not occur often enough.(on opera visits, p. 50)The Germans are exceedingly fond of Rhine wines; they are put up in tall, slender bottles and are considered a pleasant beverage. One tells them from vinegar by the label.(on German wine, p. 84)Now, in the end I was not sure how to rate this book in terms of stars. A Tramp Abroad is certainly an interesting and funny read. However, I think to really enjoy it you have to have been in one of the countries that are depicted in the book or have some knowledge about Germany and Switzerland. Otherwise, you just would not enjoy the book that much, I assume. Living in Germany, though, I find the book highly recommendable. Finally a note on the reading experience. A book with little above 400 pages that is divided into 50 chapters and an appendix is nothing like the usual reading experience you have with novels. But then again A Tramp Abroad is not a novel. So you might need some time to get used to the structure of the book. It is more like some fifty plus separate stories as Twain usually tells more than one story per chapter. All things considered, I would rate the book with 3.5 stars.

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stbalbach_1

When Twain visited Germany in 1879 he was suffering writers block. His great work Huckleberry Finn was stuck mid-stream and he was too. What better way to shake the cobwebs off then a trip to Europe. Twain struggled through the writing of A Tramp Abroad and it shows in the sort of uneven quality and changing direction. Nevertheless it contains some excellent material. The first part about Heidelberg is the best – Twain didn’t actually float a raft down the river and wreck (like what happened to Finn), this was made-up, but the descriptions of scenery and place makes it easy to follow on Google Maps and gain a sense of the place. The second best is in Switzerland as he recounts some climbs of renown up to the time, one gets a good sense of climbing culture and life in 19th Century. This is my first travel book by Twain.

mbmackay

The third of Twain’s “travel books”. Not as funny as the first (Innocents Abroad) and the writing also doesn’t seem as fluent, but I still enjoyed the read. Some great little insights into life and travel 150 years ago.Read Nov 2016

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