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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court…
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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)

by Mark Twain

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,18986495 (3.7)2 / 266
  1. 41
    The Practice Effect by David Brin (espertus)
    espertus: A whimsical fast-moving fantasy about a modern scientist who is transported to a seemingly Earth-like feudal society.
  2. 30
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Morteana)
  3. 10
    Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen by H. Beam Piper (DWWilkin)
    DWWilkin: One of the first time travel stories
  4. 21
    King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: These novels have some similar plot elements.
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English (82)  German (2)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (86)
Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
The United States in the 19th century. Hartford, Connecticut. Hank Morgan receives a blow to the head and is suddenly and inexplicably transported to 6th-century England. After this time travel, Hank Morgan, still equipped with his 19th-century knowlege, starts an adventure through medieval England. Captured and brought to King Arhtur's court he is sentenced to burn at the stake. However, Hank Morgan manages to escape his fate by divining a solar eclipse, which, regarding the circumstances, is not such a big feat. Much to the chagrin of the greatest magician of England, the famous Merlin, Morgan manages to become the chief minister to King Arthur and is henceforth known and feared as 'The Boss' because of his magical capabilities. Living up to his position, Hank Morgan slowly starts to institute changes in a society that can only seem totally backward to his 19th-century eyes. His main goals throughout the novel are to diminish the power and influence of the church, to abolish the insitution of knight-errantry, to introduce the democratic republic as a new system of government, and, on a more personal level, to publicly make Merlin look like a fool whenever he can.

As much as this book can be seen as a criticism of monarchy and the strong role of the church, it can be read as a criticism of slavery in the United States. Aristocrats in 6th-century England are compared to slaveholders in America: "The repulsive feature of slavery is the thing, not its name. One needs but to hear an aristocrat speak of the classes that are below him to recognize - and in but indifferently modified measure - the very air and tone of the actual slaveholder; and behind these are the slaveholder's spirit, the slaveholder's blunted feeling. They are the result of the same cause in both cases: the possessor's old and inbred custom of regarding himself as a superior human being." (p. 190)
The original illustrations by Daniel Carter Beard underline Twain's criticism throughout the novel and contribute to its satiric tone.

Speaking of the humorous and satirical qualities of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arhtur's Court, I much enjoyed the frequent jabs Twain took at different institutions or groups of people. Those parts definitely contributed to an already great reading experience. Read what Mark Twain has to say about the German language when he compares it to 6th-century English:
"(...) I was standing in the awful presence of the Mother of the German Language. (...) If words had been water, I had been drowned, sure. She had exactly the German way: whatever was in her mind to be delivered, whether a mere remark, or a sermon, or a cyclopedia, or the history of a war, she would get it into a single sentence or die. Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth."

To my mind, Twain's exploration of the possibility of speeding up historical development makes this novel even more valuable. When 19th-century Yankee Hank Morgan tries to use his advanced knowledge of history to do away with monarchy and set up a democratical society, the question arises whether 6th-century England is ready for such a radical change. In the end, Morgan himself has to act as the driving force of revolution only to see his system fail when people fall back to their 6th-century beliefs. The church certainly plays an important role here as a separation of church and state is not yet ingrained in people's minds. Therefore, the experiment of introducing a democratic system in the 6th-century is doomed to fail. Now is it just that mankind is not ready for the change yet and has to exist a couple of centuries longer to recognize the merit of a different system? Or is it the radical and abrupt way in which Hank Morgan approaches his project? In the end, even Hank himself recognizes that with him as a leader in a democratic society nothing much would change as people would regard him as the ruling monarch and 'The Boss'.

In conclusion, Mark Twain's novel is a highly enjoyable and highly recommendable read for several reasons, of which I will name the four main ones for me. First, it is a humorous depiction of 6th-century customs, especially knight-errantry. Second, it raises some very interesting questions and makes you rethink the development of different systems of government. Third, Beard's illustrations fit perfectly to Twain's narrative and as Twain said himself "[Beard ] not only illustrates the text but he illustrates my thoughts". Fourth, the narrative of the Yankee's adventure's in King Arthur's court are highly readable and reminded me somewhat of the adventures of Miguel Cervantes' Don Quixote, which I loved. All in all, 4.5 stars. ( )
1 vote OscarWilde87 | May 13, 2016 |
I like science ficton, particularly time travel stories, and I like classic literature. So this book should have been a perfect fit for me. Sadly, it was not. I know a lot of people like it, but I just honestly couldn't hack my way through all of it and I gave it the old college try twice!

( )
  Garrison0550 | May 10, 2016 |
I can't say I found this book all that amusing. There were some classic Twain-isms for sure but this book was Twain's attempt at pointing out the injustices of the world by attacking the legendary King Arthur and making him look like a buffoon.

The story centers on Hank Morgan, a 19th century American who finds himself in the 6th century at King ArthurÛªs Court after a knock on the head. Being an intelligent man after a fashion, he proceeds to become one of the most important men in the country, applying 19th century thoughts and ideas to a much different time.

Twain attacks feudalism and considers the nobility brainless and incapable of serious thought. In Hank Morgan‰Ûªs words, ‰ÛωÛ_you soon saw that brains were not needed in a society like that, and indeed would have marred it, hindered it, spoiled its symmetry ‰ÛÒ perhaps rendered it‰Ûªs existence impossible‰Û. He compares himself to Robinson Crusoe, trapped with ‰ÛÏno society but some more or less tame animals‰Û. For my part, I found this to be the most insulting part of the book. Just because people lived in the so-called Dark Ages, does not mean they weren‰Ûªt as intelligent and thinking as those who came before them and those who came after. Humans don‰Ûªt change‰Û_we have only to look at ourselves to realize that. More importantly, it‰Ûªs always a mistake to take current day morals and thinking and try to apply it to the past. Yes, times were hard. Yes, there was inequality. But the human spirit did and always will prevail. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
I really liked this but I listened to it as an audiobook. It was particularly funny because the reader was flat out great. I did wonder why it was that Twain set the time travel back in Europe but measured everything in dollars and cents? I don't mean the almighty Twain. It was still hilarious, as expected. ( )
  bjoelle5 | Feb 10, 2016 |
It was a fascinating book and i must say i did enjoy it. ( )
  Shazarah | Feb 6, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (283 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mark Twainprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Banbery, FrederickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beard, Daniel CarterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dietz, NormanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferrari, AntongionataIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fitzpatrick, Lucy MabryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hearne, JackIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Langton, StuartNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lopez, AbelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pérez Rilo, RicardoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
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First words
Camelot—Camelot,” said I to myself. “I don’t seem to remember hearing of it before. Name of the asylum, likely.”
Quotations
There never was such a country for wandering liars; and they were of both sexes.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
ISBN 0812504364 is a Tor edition of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
Adapted by Victor Barnes
ISBN 0486415910 is a Dover Publications edition of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
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This book is in public domain in the USA and the e-book is available free online ...

 

From the back:
The last thing Hank Morgan can remember is being hit over the head during a brawl in his home town in Connecticut.
When he finally comes to, Hank finds himself in a strange country, seated beside a man dressed in a suit of armor. Hank thinks he is in a circus...or perhaps an asylum.
The truth is, Hank Morgan is alive and well in 528 AD - in Camelot.
The stranger is not a clown, but a knight; and Hank is not in an asylum, but in King Arthur's Court!
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553211439, Mass Market Paperback)

This novel tells the story of Hank Morgan, the quintessential self-reliant New Englander who brings to King Arthur’s Age of Chivalry the “great and beneficent” miracles of nineteenth-century engineering and American ingenuity. Through the collision of past and present, Twain exposes the insubstantiality of both utopias, destroying the myth of the romantic ideal as well as his own era’s faith in scientific and social progress.

A central document in American intellectual history, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is at once a hilarious comedy of anachronisms and incongruities, a romantic fantasy, a utopian vision, and a savage, anarchic social satire that only one of America’s greatest writers could pen.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:18 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

When chance brings Edward Tudor and Tom Canty together, they decide for fun to switch clothes and places. Exchanging their roles as heir to the throne of England and as a pauper's son, they learn how the other half really lives.

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