Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Joan of Arc. Poster of a Vintage Book Cover

Harper's April, 1895.  Dover Press
This is the cover of Harper's Magazine, April 1895, featuring a story by, "the most popular magazine writer."  And who would that be?  Mark Twain of course.  But in the 1895 version, Twain asked that this work be published anonymously because he did not want his readers to expect his book to be humorous.

Joan of Arc or The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by the Sieur Louis de Conte was first serialized in the magazine  The book itself was published in 1896.  Twain consider this novel one on which he worked the hardest, as  he spent months using historical sources in both English and French to set the scenes for Joan's life and death.  Sieur Louis de Conte was a fictionalized  page of Joan's who was with her from the beginning to her death.

His critics, were, well critical, despite the effort Twain put into the book -- twelve years of preparation, he said.

"I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others need no preparation and got none."  Mark Twain

I read this book for a class I took and found it interesting. This is not a quick read, but fans of Twain will find it a contrast to his other books. Twain was enamored of the character, modeling her after his daughter Susi as he remembered her at seventeen years of age.  

Was Mark Twain interested in cross-dressing or changes in identity by a switch of clothes, (Prince and the Pauper)?  There is more to this and I have added a reference that explores Twain's intense interest in the ideal of Victorian womanhood.  The reference is worth reading.

Edward Penfield (1866-1925) was one of America's most famous poster artists and created many covers for Harper's.


  1. I love old vintage artwork, like this poster and mark twain quotes are the best.

  2. I love the last part: "The others need no preparation and got none." It sounds just like him.

  3. Now this is a Mark Twain book that passed me by. I'd be interested in checking it out sometime.

  4. Hi LoW .. love this addition - I saw the silent film "Joan of Arc" here at our film society a few years ago and it resonated so much. I know the story - but haven't read Mark Twain's book ... there's so much I need to catch up on!

    Fascinating to read your post and see the poster ... cheers Hilary