The Construction of the ‘Self’ in Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad: 'The Positional Superiority' of the American Identity in the Nineteenth-century Travel Narrative

Fatin AbuHilal, Ayman Abu-Shomar


An analysis of Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad with its emphasis on cultural representations in the American culture, touches very significantly upon the question of the rising of the American identity and its connection with the American Travel Narrative in the nineteenth century. While it is believed that the novel produces "pure" "true knowledge”, or "a neutral exercise" of basic facts and realties, we argue that Twain’s narrative entails a genre of political knowledge that is premised on the basic requirement of self/other constructions. The ideological apparatus of Americanized emerging identity, nationalism, power and authority are fundamental issues in the Twains narrative. Furthermore, it is not only the personal motif that is the basis of Twain's The Innocents Abroad, as he claims in his preface, nor is it a "Great Pleasure Excursion," as he pretends.  The novel structures relations according to the rising American norms and values in the nineteenth century clearly acquired and absorbed by the American travelers in The Innocents Abroad. It also subscribes to the complication of the American character in order to develop, process and reconstruct cultural relations in the narrative. In this sense, we argue that Twain's narrative raises discursive ideological questions about the rising of the American national identity and its connection with other cultural components, the Oriental, in particular.

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International Journal of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies

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