Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

Came across this, which I'd never read -- or even heard of -- before -- the "Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc" -- by MARK TWAIN, of all people:

It's a work of fiction presented as being a translation from old manuscripts, and was serialized in Harper's Magazine under a pseudonym (see )

It starts off with this, from the fictional "original writer:

To his Great-Great-Grand Nephews and Nieces

This is the year 1492. I am eighty-two years of age. The things I am going to tell you are things which I saw myself as a child and as a youth.

In all the tales and songs and histories of Joan of Arc, which you and the rest of the world read and sing and study in the books wrought in the late invented art of printing, mention is made of me, the Sieur Louis de Conte—I was her page and secretary, I was with her from the beginning until the end.

I was reared in the same village with her. I played with her every day, when we were little children together, just as you play with your mates. Now that we perceive how great she was, now that her name fills the whole world, it seems strange that what I am saying is true; for it is as if a perishable paltry candle should speak of the eternal sun riding in the heavens and say, "He was gossip and housemate to me when we were candles together." And yet it is true, just as I say. I was her playmate, and I fought at her side in the wars; to this day I carry in my mind, fine and clear, the picture of that dear little figure, with breast bent to the flying horse's neck, charging at the head of the armies of France, her hair streaming back, her silver mail plowing steadily deeper and deeper into the thick of the battle, sometimes nearly drowned from sight by tossing heads of horses, uplifted sword-arms, wind-blow plumes, and intercepting shields. I was with her to the end; and when that black day came whose accusing shadow will lie always upon the memory of the mitered French slaves of England who were her assassins, and upon France who stood idle and essayed no rescue, my hand was the last she touched in life.

As the years and the decades drifted by, and the spectacle of the marvelous child's meteor flight across the war firmament of France and its extinction in the smoke-clouds of the stake receded deeper and deeper into the past and grew ever more strange, and wonderful, and divine, and pathetic, I came to comprehend and recognize her at last for what she was—the most noble life that was ever born into this world save only One.

The Contents:



    Chapter 1 When Wolves Ran Free in Paris

    Chapter 2 The Fairy Tree of Domremy

    Chapter 3 All Aflame with Love of France

    Chapter 4 Joan Tames the Mad Man

    Chapter 5 Domremy Pillaged and Burned

    Chapter 6 Joan and Archangel Michael

    Chapter 7 She Delivers the Divine Command

    Chapter 8 Why the Scorners Relented


    Chapter 1 Joan Says Good-By

    Chapter 2 The Governor Speeds Joan

    Chapter 3 The Paladin Groans and Boasts

    Chapter 4 Joan Leads Us Through the Enemy

    Chapter 5 We Pierce the Last Ambuscades

    Chapter 6 Joan Convinces the King

    Chapter 7 Our Paladin in His Glory

    Chapter 8 Joan Persuades Her Inquisitors

    Chapter 9 She Is Made General-in-Chief

    Chapter 10 The Maid's Sword and Banner

    Chapter 11 The War March Is Begun

    Chapter 12 Joan Puts Heart in Her Army

    Chapter 13 Checked by the Folly of the Wise

    Chapter 14 What the English Answered

    Chapter 15 My Exquisite Poem Goes to Smash

    Chapter 16 The Finding of the Dwarf

    Chapter 17 Sweet Fruit of Bitter Truth

    Chapter 18 Joan's First Battle-Field

    Chapter 19 We Burst In Upon Ghosts

    Chapter 20 Joan Makes Cowards Brave Victors

    Chapter 21 She Gently Reproves Her Dear Friend

    Chapter 22 The Fate of France Decided

    Chapter 23 Joan Inspires the Tawdry King

    Chapter 24 Tinsel Trappings of Nobility

    Chapter 25 At Last—Forward!

    Chapter 26 The Last Doubts Scattered

    Chapter 27 How Joan Took Jargeau

I wonder how historically accurate it is... Might be interesting to someone out there in any case...


For her ACTUAL trials and examinations, see this site:

Oh, yes, I discovered this in my junior year of high school. I was just as astonished as you! Mark Twain apparently had huge admiration for Joan of Arc- if I'm not mistaken, he considered this his favorite work. It's available on if you want to listen to it (not my favorite narrator, but better than nothing).
It's a fascinating read. Mark Twain apparently researched for years to make it as accurate as possible; I don't know how close or far he was but I couldn't put it down when I first read it (and reread it, more than once.) Worth reading, imho :)
The book is incredible. I HIGHLY recommend it, Vox! I discovered it senior year of college and like the above poster, couldn't put it down.

Mark Twain had serious reservation with organized religion in general and the Church in particular, but he intensely admired Joan of Arc. This book is about her, and since Twain double-distances himself (he discovers an old manuscript of an eye-witness), he is about to laud Joan of Arc as none have done before or since, all without using the book as a weapon against the Church hierarchy, virginity, mysticism, revelation, etc. Joan of Arc was definitely one of the greatest of all who have lived. It is one of the most beautiful books I have read, and if it does not cause you to respect, if not seriously venerate, the Maid, than nothing will. The last part of the book is almost the trial transcript - Twain spent twelve years in research and another two in writing: "My other books needed no preparation and so got none." Seriously, read this book!

"Whatever men call great, look for it in Joan of Arc and you will find it."
~Mark Twain
For all those Kindle owners out there....Amazon has several editions available  for free and some for  purchase. I have the edition produced  by Ignatius Press.  Its 5.83.
So many wonderful and unexpected people have treated the story of Joan - one of my favourites is Vita Sackville-West's Saint Joan of Arc. Sackville-West was a long-time friend and sometime lover of Virginia Woolf.

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