Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mark Twain in Berlin: "There is Nothing in Berlin You Cannot Learn Except the German Language"



Mark Twain said, he "[n]ever knew before what eternity was made for. It is to give some of us a chance to learn German." Yet, despite his criticism of the German language, Twain loved Germany and especially Berlin. He called Berlin the "newest city I have ever seen," and referred to it as the "German Chicago" because of its energy and sense of vibrancy. By the end of the 19th century, Berlin had transformed itself from a swampy provincial town into a thriving city where the arts, sciences and technology were flourishing. Berlin was soon to become the third largest city in the world and the center of the "new" Europe.

Twain lived in Berlin during the 1890's, and wrote articles on his everyday life in the city. Many of those stories were never published until quite recently. Andreas Austilat has complied these stories in an insightful book, A Tramp in Berlin. New Mark Twain Stories: An Account of Twain's Berlin Adventures. For Twain and/or Berlin fans, the book is a must read. 

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