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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – June 15, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

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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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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10 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199540586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199540587
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.9 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (412 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As with all of Mark Twain's work this book works on two very different levels. The first of course is a simple adventure story the second is a bitingly satiric work that unmasks many of the hypocracies of "conventional wisdom".

I have to believe that most of his readers of his time (and ours) did not understand his underlying messages regarding society and its institutions. For me, it was hard to miss the way he unmasked the church, the state and society as a whole. I had to laugh out loud at some of the ways he managed to expose the absurdities of government and religion.

This book is a quick read and is immensely satisfying if the reader takes the time to follow Twain's logic to its natural conclusions.
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Format: Hardcover
You might wonder what prompted Mark Twain to sidle from "straight" fiction into the realm of outright fantasy. Twain transports a Connecticut shop foreman twelve centuries into the past [and 5 000 kilometres!] to Camelot and Arthur's court. Initially confused and dismayed, Hank Morgan's Yankee practicality is quickly aroused and he becomes a major figure among the panopolied knights. With the title of The Boss, his rank equals The King or The Pope with its uniqueness. His elevation doesn't distract him from a more profound impulse, however. Hank's Yankee roots and wide experience evoke an ambition - nothing less than revolution. He wants to sweep away the monarchy and aristocracy and establish an American-style republic in Arthurian Britain.
Mark Twain's scathing criticism of the sham of hereditary monarchy bolstered by an Established Church makes this among his choicest writings. He resents the condition of a Church which "turned a nation of men into a nation of worms." A fervent believer in individual freedom, Twain uses Hank to voice his disdain of Britain's royalty. It's no more than might be expected of a man who boasted of but one ancestor - who sat on the jury that executed Charles I. Hank knows revolutions never succeed when implemented from above. Revolution be achieved only when the individual's attitude changes from meek acceptance to
self assertion. Hank's method reaches people through clandestine schools and factories, publication of a newspaper and establishment of a telephone system. These new forms of manufacture and communication become the foundation by which Hank expects to abolish the ancient, mis-named, chivalric tradition. Does he change the course of history?
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
What a great novel! Twain is wonderfully funny, yet his scathing social commentary concerning his own times are as serious as a heart attack.

When a Connecticut Yankee gets sent back in time to King Arthur's Court, he decides his superior knowledge should be used to educate such an "ignorant race." Of course, we all know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and if I didn't know better, I would say that the person who coined the phrase did so after finishing this novel. The story's main character, Hank Morgan, is a likeable, if not laughable character, yet as most of us already know: absolute power corrupts absolutely. Once technology gets on a roll, the beast of civilization takes off running and Morgan cannot pull in the reigns. Total disaster ensues (incase you had not already guessed).

This was a fun read and a look at a problem that is still very much alive today. Too much civilization can be like a disease, especially when those who are working to spread it find that they are doing it for reasons other than altruism.

Also, do you remember the scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when Indiana Jones whips out his gun to shoot the sword-wielding Sultan? That scene was surely lifted from this very book!

Trust me, this is a novel for thought, but one that will not bore you. Twain was a master and this is perhaps my favorite of his novels. Very highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mark Twain left no doubt in readers’ minds that he was an American. He believed in the Republic and an entrepreneur-driven free market system. The benefits of these political and economic systems are contrasted against the stifling feudal system that would have been in place in Arthurian England, and indeed in much of Europe into the Nineteenth century. Many norms and traditions of the medieval world suffer at Twain’s wit, including the Catholic Church, monarchies in general, tournament combats between knights, nobility and class-based society, and the political and legal structures that served the desires of the rich while ignoring the needs of the poor. The result is a sarcastic, witty tale of time travel and the introduction of Nineteenth-century technologies and ideas into that Sixth-century world.

While known primarily for his biting wit, it is not all fun and games in Twain’s Arthurian land, and he brought forward several serious issues in his narrative. The author showed that he could write as eloquently about heavy subject matter as he could be flippant and irreverent on lighter topics. The most poignant and moving scenes involved a woman dying of smallpox in her home and a young mother who was hanged for being poor. Mark Twain may have had a bristly, acerbic exterior, but reading these scenes so tenderly described, one sees that the man Samuel Clemens had a deep affection for his fellow human beings, and that justice, mercy and kindness were principles dear to his person.

On the whole, this was an enjoyable book to read. By today’s standards, there is not much action in it, but it is well-written and continually keeps the plot moving through the introduction of new incidents and characters. The Yankee, Hank Morgan, is a driver of much of the plot, and so it is easy to connect with him as he makes things happen in King Arthur’s world.
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