“Now listen to what an old man tells you. My best book is my Recollections of Joan of Arc. ...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 needed no preparation and got none." —Mark Twain
Judged by the standards of one century, the noblest characters of an earlier one lose much of their luster. Judged by the standards of today, there are not many from five or six centuries ago whose character stands the test of time. But the character of Joan of Arc is unique. It can be measured against all time without misgiving. It is flawless. It is ideally perfect. It occupies the loftiest place possible to human attainment.
Joan of Arc, a peasant girl in 15th century France, rose up to hold supreme command of the military forces of France at the age of seventeen. Inspired by visions and voices of angels, Joan led French troops to lift the siege of Orléans ensuring Charles VII was crowned King of France in 1429.
Twain traveled to France’s National Archives to personally study the transcripts of Joan’s trial. Immerse yourself in her story, told by one of America’s finest writers.
Illustrated with original drawings by F.V. du Mond, and from reproductions of old paintings and statues.
Fun bit of trivia: The narrator of this story is the fictitious Sieur Louis de Conte, a childhood friend of Joan of Arc's, and later her page and secretary. His initials are SLC, the same initials as in the author's real name, Samuel Langhorne Clemens!
Favorite quotes, in order as they appear in the book:
"None are so ready to find fault with others as those who do things worthy of blame themselves." —Joan of Arc
"And whether she comes of God or no, there is that in her heart that raises her above men—high above all men that breathe in France to-day—for in her is that mysterious something that puts heart into soldiers, and turns mobs of cowards into armies of fighters that forget what fear is when they are in that presence." —Yolande, Queen of Sicily, mother-in-law of the Dauphin
"When a person in Joan of Arc’s position tells a man he is brave, he believes it; and believing it is enough; in fact, to believe yourself brave is to be brave.” —Sieur Louis de Conte, Joan's childhood friend, page and secretary (in other words, Mark Twain!)
"Surely it were better that all the guilty should escape than that we have upon our hands the blood of that innocent man." —Joan of Arc
"There’s many a way to win in this world, but none of them is worth much without good hard work." —an explanation of Joan's motto
"They (the villagers of Joan's hometown) know how you love animals, and so they try to do you honor and show their love for you by naming all those creatures after you; insomuch that if a body should step out and call ‘Joan of Arc—come!’ there would be a landslide of cats and all such things, each supposing it was the one wanted." —Joan's Uncle Laxart
"She says her hard things to your faces, whereas you say yours behind her back.” —King Charles VII, about comments made by Joan vs those made by his two chief advisers
"It took six thousand years to produce her; her like will not be seen in the earth again in fifty thousand. Such is my opinion." —Sieur Louis de Conte
“If I be not in a state of Grace, I pray God place me in it; if I be in it, I pray God keep me so.” —Joan of Arc, while on trial
“I will tell you nothing more than I have told you; no, not even if you tear the limbs from my body. And even if in my pain I did say something otherwise, I would always say afterward that it was the torture that spoke and not I.” —Joan of Arc, being threatened with torture while on trial