Since Mark Twain's Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is neither one of his most well-known works of prose, nor is it considered one of his best, it is somewhat surprising that it has been included in the Campfire Graphic Classic Novel Series along with such perennial Twain favorites as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and The Prince and the Pauper.
This fictional account of the famed French saint and her holy crusade to restore France to its rightful king is not typical Twain. It is epic in scope and very serious in its treatment of its subject. Twain is clearly moved by his conception of the young teenaged warrior; so much so that the accuracy of his portrait has been questioned by some critics (George Bernard Shaw, example).
While cynical modern readers might well take issue with Twain's emphasis on fairies, prophecies, and miracles, they are in fact a big part of Joan's narrative, and to downplay them, or treat them with a kind of post-modern irony would suggest a point of view quite alien to what are clearly Twain's intentions. Besides one could argue that in creating the character of Joan's childhood companion, Louis de Conte to tell her story from the vantage point of his old age, it is not the author, but the surrogate narrator who puts the positive spin on the miraculous occurrences of the heroine's life and death.
In this sense, Twain is telling the story of a man, a witness to the events, who believes completely the evidence of his own eyes. On the other hand, the book was written late in the author's life, and it is said that he may have based the portrait of Joan on his recollection of his daughter at that age, so there is certainly an argument for his emotional investment in his subject. In any case, the young girl at the center of his book is very much the model of what has become a fairly common notion of Joan of Arc.