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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's…

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (original 1889; edition 2011)

by Mark Twain

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6,52369584 (3.71)2 / 235
Title:A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Authors:Mark Twain
Info:Simon & Brown (2011), Paperback, 334 pages

Work details

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain (1889)

  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. 10
    King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: These novels have some similar plot elements.
  3. 10
    Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen by H. Beam Piper (DWWilkin)
    DWWilkin: One of the first time travel stories
  4. 12
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (sturlington)
    sturlington: Funny, satirical science fiction.

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Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
I don't know why this book doesn't rank higher among the classics & isn't discussed more. Twain manages to highlight more of our human & modern society's ills & graces than any other book I've read. This is not just a man out of his time, but a journey of discovering just how large, fast changes, seemingly made for the best, can actually be horrifying with unforeseen consequences. (Sound familiar? Haven't we all been talking about how technology & the Internet has changed our lives so much recently?)

Twain somehow manages to cover it all in this fairly short book; the justice system, technology, human rights, & war. Was he a time traveler himself? He first published this book in 1872, but the final battle is eerily reminiscent of World War I which took place over 3 decades later.

Twain's themes are practically timeless, as often hilarious as they are poignant. The section where Hank, the Connecticut Yankee, is traveling with Arthur incognito is one of my favorites. The Yankee might be out of place, but Arthur is even more so in his own time & kingdom simply due to his status.

The writing style takes a bit of getting used to, but is wonderful, giving even Shakespeare a run for his money. Take this gem:
I passed them at a rattling gait, and as I went by I flung out a hair-lifting soul-scorching thirteen-jointed insult which made the king's effort poor and cheap by comparison. I got it out of the nineteenth century where they know how.

The story isn't perfect. Characters were too often caricatures, common to Twain's writing, but he uses this to great effect when circumstance suddenly twists. There was quite a bit of convenience to the plot, but again this is used to make his points. Overall it is an amazing read & one that should be hauled out every decade or so & reviewed.
( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
Z loved it . . . Definitely for reading aloud/discussion bec. of anti-Indian language. Nice time-travel meets econ-101 meets history. ( )
  beckydj | Aug 2, 2014 |
Not at all the Saturday afternoon feature starring Bing Crosby. I was amazed at the dissimilarity. Here, the Yankee so improves Camelot with the inventions of the nineteenth century that he works a revolution. Lancelot is not a lout! This fantasy is well done and very much more entertaining than a darkened cinema and unreal colors on the screen. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
A time travel fantasy written before that genre was terribly popular. Ah, lack a me. I wish I hadn't reread this. The suck fairy has robbed my memory of the fun of this story. I listened to the audio version, with William Dufris as the narrator. Although I didn't enjoy a couple of his characterizations, he was a fine reader, so I don't believe the suck can be attributed to him. What ruined this for me, was the bombardment of ranting. I don't remember that from my first read (I was in my early twenties then). Possibly because I skimmed it? Also, I didn't like The Boss. He was the epitome of the "Ugly American Abroad." He was judgmental, believing that he was the only one with intelligence or ideas worth having, and his way was the only right way. Did Twain do this on purpose, to illustrate the ugly American? If so, he did a masterful job, but I won't ever need to read this again.
For positive notes, oh, no, I can't think of any. Even the humor didn't amuse me this time. Ah well. ( )
1 vote MrsLee | Jun 25, 2014 |
Twain has a wicked sense of humor, but his novels on social commentary tend to be even more powerful than his playful ones. My assumption was that this book would fall into the comedy category. Based on film versions and the general premise, it sounded like an entertaining, light novel. While there were some very funny parts, this is a much darker book than I was expecting. It’s both an adventure and a cautionary tale. There are also so many wonderful lines, zingers that I know I can always expect from Twain.

The plot tells the story of a man who is hit in the head and wakes up 1300 years earlier in 528 AD. It’s the Dark Ages and King Arthur is on the throne. He has no way of getting home, so instead he tries to build a life in England and becomes one of King Arthur’s knights. The dark tone of the book seeps into almost every scene. Even when our narrator is using gunpowder to pretend to have magic, there’s always a chance that he will be killed for sorcery.

In one section our time traveling hero is touring the countryside with King Arthur, who is disguised as a peasant. They come upon a home where a family of four is dying of a disease plaguing the area. They care for them, but it’s much too late to save them from their grim fate. In their dying moments they learn that this family’s misfortune, perpetuated by the local manor lord, left them destitute and desperate. The King is being forced to see the problems in his kingdom firsthand and it’s not a pleasurable experience.

BOTTOM LINE: There are jousts and hangings, betrayals and jealousy; all the great elements of an adventure novel. I was surprised by how much depth I found and the bittersweet ending will stick with me.

“The mere knowledge of a fact is pale; but when you come to realize your fact, it takes on color. It is all the difference between hearing of a man being stabbed to the heart, and seeing it done.”

“Inherited ideas are a curious thing, and interesting to observe and examine.”

“Intellectual "work" is misnamed; it is a pleasure, a dissipation, and is its own highest reward. The poorest paid architect, engineer, general, author, sculptor, painter, lecturer, advocate, legislator, actor, preacher, singer is constructively in heaven when he is at work; and as for the musician with the fiddle-bow in his hand who sits in the midst of a great orchestra with the ebbing and flowing tides of divine sound washing over him—why, certainly, he is at work, if you wish to call it that, but lord, it's a sarcasm just the same.” ( )
  bookworm12 | May 27, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (177 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mark Twainprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Banbery, FrederickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beard, Daniel CarterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fitzpatrick, Lucy MabryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Langton, StuartNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lopez, AbelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pérez Rilo, RicardoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.”
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.
ISBN 0486415910 is a Dover Publications edition of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
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Book description
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:41 -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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 21 descriptions

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22 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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University of California Press

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