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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Bantam Classics) Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 1983
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"Twain is the funniest literary American writer. . . . [I]t must have been a great pleasure to be him."
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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.
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As other reviewers have pointed out, the book is actually quite long. Parts feel repetitive and parts feel unnecessary, but it is still good writing and mostly enjoyable. I was expecting a light and easy read, and while this is not exactly that, it is still a great look into the witty mind of Mark Twain.
This Kindle edition was transcribed fine but there are some issues with spacing. Parts of the book have return carriages so that if your font is not sized very small, each line is broken up into a couple of smaller, truncated lines. This does not always make for a smooth read, but it is only in a few parts of the book, so no big deal.
After being hit in the head so hard that it "seemed to spring every joint in my skull and made it overlap its neighbor", Hank Morgan, a citizen of late-19th-century Connecticut, finds himself being chased up a tree by one of King Arthur's Knights. When he accepts that these people are not insane (Somehow the notion that HE might be in a delirium never occurs to him), he decides that, because of his vastly superior education, he'll be running this country within a few years. And he is. Then he decides to overthrow the ancient barbarities and institute true civilization. And he does. For a while.
Mr. Twain uses the notion of time travel the way the best fantasy and science fiction authors use their genres: to compare and contrast today's world. And, being Mark Twain, he does it well.
It's odd how the abused are curiously sheltered, as if their maturing stopped when they began to be abused and they never matured past that. So the cynic can be curiously naive.
This book came to me when I was about 11. I loved it and still remember large sections of it from that glorious pubescent reading. This, my second reading, I have read it a second time now, and I am now five years older than Twain was when it was published. Now I find it delightful and I laugh an adolescent's laugh (Truly little boys never grow up. Our toys just get more expensive) at his merciless tweaking the nose of authority.
But now I find naive the notion that Hank could have become "The Boss" and second in command of England as easily as that. Nor do I think his takeover could have been nearly so complete.
What rings true is how that takeover could come crashing down so completely, so suddenly. Twain believed in reason and education. I think tradition, prejudice, and emotion trump them.
That having been said, I love this book! I recommend it without qualification and I hope to hear rebuttals to my comments.