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Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc
by Mark Twain
ISBN 0195101456 / 9780195101454 / 0-19-510145-6
Publisher Oxford University Press, USA
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Twain himself said, "I like Joan of Arc best among all my books." A serious, impassioned, meticulously researched story about a compelling heroine, the Maid of Orléans, Twain viewed the work both as a bid to be accepted as a serious writer and as a gift of love to his favorite daughter, Susy, who would die tragically three months after Joan of Arc was published. Susy declared to her sister Clara that Joan of Arc was "perhaps even more sweet and beautiful than The Prince and the Pauper," which she had earlier called "unquestionably the best book" her father had ever written. Modeled in part on Susy herself, the figure of Joan is a celebration of Twain's ideal woman: gentle, selfless, and pure, but also brave, courageous, and eloquent. Although set in fifteenth-century Europe, Joan of Arc is a key text for anyone who would understand the ambivalence that greeted the "New Women" in turn-of-the-century America. Twain's novel, as Susan Harris notes in her afterword, illuminates "some of the major currents, and contradictions, of turn-of-the-century life and thought." [via]