Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc" {by Mark Twain} Book Club Ideas

"Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc"
By: Mark Twain
Mark Twain had a personal fascination with Joan of Arc. This work has a very different feel and flow from Twain's other works. There is a distinct lack of humor, so prevalent in his other works. This is a mature Twain, writing about a subject of personal interest to him.

He was first attracted to Joan of Arc in the early 1850s when he found a leaf from a biography of her and asked his brother Henry whether she was real. In addition, Twain arguably worked harder on this book than any other. In a letter to H.H. Rogers he stated, “I have never done any work before that cost so much thinking and weighing and measuring and planning and cramming."

Twain considered this, his last finished novel, to be his best and most important work, a view not shared by critics then or since.
Mark Twain

1. Peace protesters drape St. Joan of Arc statue in Meridian Hill Park in Washington DC.
2. Golden statue of Joan of Arc at Place des Pyramides, Paris by Emmanuel Frémiet, 1874.

DELICIOUS French onion soup
Brazillian Lemonade (I know it's not French but it was hot out and boy did they taste good!)
There were two kinds of yummy quiche to pick from, traditional french bread and a scrumptious fruit platter.
And THANK YOU CASSANDRA for providing the decadent cheese platter!
And of course you can't have French food without the French desserts now can you?
We had oh so tasty chocolate mousse with french eclaires and madalines!

I don't want to go into to much detail about what the book is about BUT we were all surprised to find that many of us didn't know the basics about this significant figure and Saint, Joan of Arc.

SO, just so you are a little better educated than the majority of us were before we read this book, here are the basics you need to know about Joan and her life:

"Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" is a folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in what is now eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII of France. She was captured by the Burgundians, transferred to the English in exchange for money, put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon for charges of "insubordination and heterodoxy," and was burned at the stake for heresy (a belief that conflicted with established Catholic dogma) when she was only 19 years old.

Twenty-five years after her execution, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. Joan of Arc was beatified (a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven), in 1909 and canonized in 1920."
St. Joan

Sandra did a fantastic job Moderating this book and even took the time to make all the decorations you see in the pictures and made all of us these darling gold feather book marks!
Another one of the banners Sandra made!

I loved this story that Sandra shared with us that explains the picture above...

"On a December night in 1905, the New York City chapter of the Society of Illustrators managed to do something many thought impossible. With one calculated stroke they left Mark Twain, author and noted quipster, speechless.

The writer had just risen to address the group. As he began to speak, a girl emerged from the back of the room. Her hair was cropped just below her ears; her face was angular but radiant. Underneath a ceremonial white robe, she wore the armor of a 15th-century French soldier. With eyes fixed on the author, she glided up the aisle between the tables carrying a laurel wreath atop a satin pillow. By the time the girl reached his table, “Twain had every appearance of a man who had seen a ghost. His eyes fairly started out of his head, his hand gripped the edge of the table.” She presented the author with the wreath, and he accepted it wordlessly. He remained silent until the model exited the room. As the seconds ticked away, Twain’s audience anxiously awaited his response.

When the writer finally spoke, he did so slowly, carefully.
“Now there's an illustration, gentlemen — a real illustration. I studied that girl, Joan of Arc, for twelve years, and it never seemed to me that the artists and the writers gave us a true picture of her. They drew a picture of a peasant. Her dress was that of a peasant. But they always missed the face — the divine soul, the pure character, the supreme woman, the wonderful girl. She was only 18 years old, but put into a breast like hers a heart like hers and I think, gentlemen, you would have a girl — like that."

Logical or not, Twain's passion for Joan of Arc was longstanding, and his public praise of her lavish. Writing in a 1904 Harper’s essay, he referred to her as “by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced.”
Our own group of "extraordinary people!'
Thank You Sandra for helping to bring the wonderful book to life!


Karen said...

Great post once again Kelly! Glad I learned so much about Joan of Arc and Mark Twain. And the food was Fabulicious!

smalltowngirl said...

You are way to nice Kelly. I'm glad you had such a great time! Once again an amazing recap.

Author Robin King said...

Fabulous pictures! I am so glad for the insight into Joan of Arc's life. It was one of those months where I loved the book and felt like I gained some knowledge too!