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helenliz

helenliz

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc: Personal Recollections - Mark Twain This isn't so much a critical review of the life of Joan of Arc as it is an ode of love. It seems clear that Mark Twain and his narrator are both in love with her. However, the constant praise of her makes her into a rather one dimensional marble goddess rather than fleshing out an entirely intriguing human being. It's an interesting approach, in that the book is narrated by a childhood friend who becomes her clerk and is at her side through the efforts to be taken seriously by the French authorities and then the successful battles. He also manages to wangle himself a place as a clerk at her trial and execution. It is told in retrospect, as an old man recounting his experiences some 60 years ago, so there is always a sense that the end is known by both the narrator and the reader. Which is a neat way of getting round the fact that we do know the end - there can be little suspense from that point of view. It is somewhat long and feels padded by the way he can't praise Joan with one word, he uses half a page. Each and every time at it becomes just a little wearisome. The early years are where she appears to have the most life and sparkle, and seems like a human being. Some people don;t come out of this very well - the french King she expands so much effort to crown is a weasly little man who doesn't deserve to be favoured by Joan or God. And the bishop (French - which i didn't realise) who stage manages her trial might well sue for defamation at every turn. In that sense it is a bit pantomimic - all black and white, very little in the way of shades of grey. But I suppose that contrast is what makes it dramatic. Stops, abruptly, at her execution. Oddly enough, the English don;t come out of this all badly. they're portrayed as a fairly honourable foe, and while they do execute Joan, they don;t actually try her - that's performed by the French clergy (well at least those under English rule) and they get the bad press they seem to deserve. As a history, the facts are in the right order and it works. As a piece of biography, I'm not sure you end up learning much more about the person - it's all about the legend.