on July 13, 2004
This book is not a "good" book, in that it fails to achieve its supposed purpose (which is to deprecate chivalric romance). Yet the sheer fascination of this incredibly poigniant failure is enough to keep me returning! It nothing like the "cute" kids versions and movies that it has inspired. Prepare for a vitriolic horror-ride that seems to prove nothing but man's futility--i.e., welcome to Twaine's latter period. Mark Twain's work of psuedo-realistic phantasy is perhaps the most marked and fascinating failure in literature. In the novel Twain sets science and technology against chivalry and romance. Twaine attempts to overthrow a thousand years of fuedal and romantic tradition by means of scientific and economic efficiency. Yet (without revealing too much) in the end the Yankee must praise the romantic hero King Arthur; has used the very superstitions he disdains to dupe the people; come to love an archetype of the simple medieval personality he despises; and, amazingly, has threatened to destroy an entire civilization. In the end the only thing the Yankee proves is that modern man is far too arrogant for his own good, and that it is all too easy to become the villain you hate. So what was Twaine's point? Supposedly to prove the vast superiority of the modern age over the Chivalric Age. But did Twaine actually believe his utterly amazing ending carried out his task? I doubt it; I think the book is a classic example of Twain's disbelief of everything. But the world my never know.
on April 14, 2003
This book--at times disjointed, rambling, self-referential, and irreverent--is decades ahead of its time. It's an interdisciplinarian's dream as Twain takes on economics, geography, politics, ancient and contemporary history, and folklore with equal ease. Mostly though, one appreciates his knack for exaggeration, the tall tale, and the outright lie. It's a triumph of tone, as he lets you in on his wild wit, his keen observation, and his penchant for bending the truth without losing his credibility as a guide.
The book's structure is also modern: He recounts his days as a paddlewheel steam boat "cub," piloting the hundreds of miles of the Mississippi before the Civil War, then, in Part 2, returns to retrace his paddleboat route. Although a few of his many digressions don't work (they sometimes sound formulaic or too detailed) most of the narrative is extremely entertaining. Twain seems caught between admiration and disdain for the "modern" age-but he also rejects over-sentimentality over the past. He writes with beauty and cynicism, verve and humor. Very highly recommended!
on February 24, 2004
In the novel, A Connecticut in King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain shows the differences between modern society, and sixth century Great Britain. Hank is a self-assured factory worker who knows how to make just about anything. The protagonist, is mysteriously transported back to the sixth century, when struck in the head by a crowbar.
He uses his vast knowledge of explosives and metals to quickly become a leader in the monarchy. His democratic thoughts and ideas become his ambition as he strives to make Great Britain a republic. Twain's novel shows how much of a change society has gone through from the sixth century to the time of the writing of the novel. He also show's how little education anyone received in the sixth century, even the members of royalty are not very wise. Hank's mediocre education is far superior to anybody's in the whole monarchy, because of the advances in education to the present.
Twain shows that the laws of the sixth century were made for the few against the many. At one point a woman is put to death for stealing just enough food to feed her baby. Hank tries, throughout the book, to get the royalty to realize how unfair their laws are to the common man.
This book makes you feel angry at points about the horribleness of the monarchy, yet ashamed because similar acts still go on in the present. An example would be how the rich and privileged still get the best of everything, while the have-nots get the last and worst of everything, both now and then. Twain has a comic sense in the book, and yet he still shows a contrast between the comic and the serious. This book should be a classic for Twain's creative portrayal of the sixth century, yet also because it makes us think about our society today.
on February 16, 2004
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur¡¦s Court¡¨ is a hilarious story written by Mark Twain. The story starts out talking about a young man named Hank Morgan, who was somehow transported back to the 6th century in England. He started out thinking that he arrived in an asylum, where everybody thought they were in the time of King Arthur. He later proved himself that he was in the 6th century by witnessing a total solar eclipse which he knew it was going to occur on the twenty-first of June A.D. 528 at 3 minutes after noon. After that event, he was given place in the government, and continuously used his cleverness and knowledge he learned in the 19th century to improve and prefect the country he was living in, during the 6th century. He used his knowledge in the field of science and performed what the people in the medieval times, called magic; and as time progressed he became the country¡¦s most powerful advisor. During this period of time, he kept a journal, which is what most of this book is.
Unlike most of the other stories, the plot of this story was consisted of two time periods, the modern 19th century and the medieval 6th century. The main character, Hank Morgan, was mysteriously sent back and became someone like Jesus because he knew what was happening and what is going to happened already in the history lessons when he was still in the 19th century. A literary device Mark Twain used in this book that made this book very amusing was all the satires Hank used to mock the people in King Arthur¡¦s court. For example, when a page was introducing himself to Mark, Mark said, ¡§Go ¡¥long, you ain¡¦t more than a paragraph.¡¨
I recommend this book for people who want something light and less serious, because this book will give you a good laugh.
on January 7, 2004
Who has not wondered what they would do if sent back centuries earlier armed with the knowledge of modern life? Mark Twain is perhaps the first writer (at least the first that I know of) who makes a serious effort (with much comedy thrown in) to consider this question.
The main character, Hank Morgan, is mysteriously transported from the then modern age of the late 19th century into the land of Camelot, with King Arthur and his knights. Although the story is well known for the comedic stories within the book, less known is the author's serious statements about human frailties such as prejudice (this book is an outspoken criticism of slavery at a time when the Just Cause myth of the American south was getting its start), superstition, autocracy, blind reliance on tradition, etc. His severity against the Catholic church stings me because that is my faith, but when considering the history of the church and some of the atrocities committed by some church leaders, his denigration is not without some justification.
There is much here for philosophical debate. Twain takes an anti-determinist view of what man is capable of accomplishing, but he is fatalistic about the ability of one person to make a lasting change. I think that he missed the point. Hank Morgan failed not so much because of the forces of custom or the clergy, but because he tried force cultural enlightenment. This is like expecting wisdom from ten year olds simply because they have the lessons of their elders available to them. Cultural improvement is a developmental process and comes from self awareness. The character would have also been improved if he had learned more of his own cultural shortcomings from involvement with this different society. Regardless, this is a highly enjoyable book that shows why it, and the author remains of interest over a century later.
I disagree with the Editorial Review written by the School Library Journal that this book is recommended for as early as fifth grade. I believe that the subject matter would be better considered and discussed with those in later grades.
on September 1, 2003
Twain has a way of taking something that we commonly idealize and shooting holes all through it. Where Letters From Earth took aim at religious belief, this time its Camelot. This is a good satire although not as strong as Letters which is a five star multiple reading kind of book.
In Connecicut Yankee, the author runs across Hank Morgan on a tour of Warwick Castle. They "fell together as modest people will in the tail of a herd being shown through". Morgan, however, has an uncommon familiarity with the objects shown and he eventually ends up relating the story of a Connecticut Yankee to Twain after a few hot Scotch whiskeys.
Morgan, it seems, after a crack on the head, found himself transported back to King Arthur's time. After being captured by Sir Kay and being delivered to the Round Table as a trophy, Henry Morgan asserts himself as a master magician over Merlin and sets himself up as "The Boss". He then begins to secretly initiate improvements and reforms such as setting up a clandestine WestPoint, installing telephone lines, starting manufacturing centers and training journalists - all the while balancing the Church and the traditional castes of the country. A misheard comment lands him scheduled to duel Sir Sagramore but is postponed for Sagramore's crusading stint. In the meantime and in preparation for the undetermined date of the duel, Arthur assigns Morgan to the aid of a young girl who comes to the table claiming that a number of princesses are being held captive by ogres. From there he goes on to "magically" fix the Holy Fountains, a spring to which people pilgrimage but has stopped flowing and then, with King Arthur in tow, attempts to travel as a commoner and lands in a world of trouble after he and the King are taken as slaves. It is a fun story with a lot of humorous situations. This is why it is recommended to young readers, I suppose.
However, Twain's biting sarcasm makes it a good book for adults too. His antecdotes are vehicles for pointing out the absurdity of the concept of nobility, the probability that the belief in ogres and magicians meant that the people of the time were largely ignorant and gullible. And in their ignorance, they are cruel. Time and again we come back to this theme. But, back to the sarcasm. For example, one of his methods of getting rid of knights is by turning them into traveling salespeople of various household sundries!
Additional meanings, interpretations, etc. are explored in the afterword and, honestly, unless it had been pointed out I would not have caught it at all. I didn't see this as a treatise on the nature of man although, once explained, I saw that that was there. I enjoyed this simply as a light satirical story.
on May 17, 2003
The book, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court" by Mark Twain was very intriguing to read. The beginning of the book had a very interesting attention grabber. Hank Morgan, the main character, was at the colt factory where he worked when he got into a heated fight with a co-worker, Hercules. Hank then got hit in the head with a crowbar, passed out, and awoke to find himself in 6th century England. This introduction to the book made for a real page turner.
I also liked the ways that Hank fooled everyone throughout the story with his "magic". Everyone thought he was a sourcerer because they thought he made the sky completely black, where as it was really a luner eclipse that he knew was going to happen from being from the future. He also said that he could blow up Merlins Tower by fire sent from the sky, but he really used explosives. He used his knowledge and newer inverntions to his advantage when he went back in time because they were things people from 6th century England never knew about.
Mark Twain also used a lot of imagery in this book. I feel that it gave a better understanding of what was going on and it made the book exciting to read.
One of the reason I only gave this book four stars is because I didn't like Hank and Merlins relationship. I think they should have gotten along instead of fighting and butting heads throughout the whole story. Mark Twain waited until the end of the story for them to get along whereas if he had done so sooner, the two of them would have gotten more accomplished throughout the story.
The other thing i didn't like about the book was Hank and Sandie's kids name, "Hello-Central". To me there seemed to be an unclear meaning behind the name and i'm really not sure why that name was chosen. I think there could have been a better plot behind it or a better name could have been chosen.
All in all, I think this is a wonderful book for anyone with an imagination to read and I would definatly recomend it to people in the future.
on May 2, 2003
Hank Morgan is a fiery shop boss in the Colt Arms Factory in New England during the late 1800s when he is knocke unconscious by another worker who gets the better of him during a fight. When Hank wakes up, he finds himself in Britain during the 7th century C.E. in the time of King Arthur. As it just so happens, before Hank can be burned at the stake for threatening to blot out the sun, the solar eclipse he predicted takes place and everyone in King Arthur's royal court cowers at his command. Hank is given what was formerly Merlin the Magician's position as chief executive and renamed The Boss. The Boss then begins to reform ancient Britain, introducing dynamite, fireworks, bicycles, electricity, telephones, etc.
But, as is only becoming of someone of his rank, he must inevitably go on a quest. It just so happens that a damsel in distress, Sandy, has come a-calling and has a mission for a knight. So, Hank embarks on a journey with Sandy and returns victoriously having saved a pen of pigs that used to be a queen and maidens but was mysteriously transformed, though only Sandy knows this.
Hank continues with his plans of reforming Britain, but lets slip another plan to the King that he wants to secretly go among the peasants as a commoner himself. The King likes the idea and signs on. They embark on a series of adventures that end with both of them being sold into slavery and very nearly being hung.
Due to a misheard comment several years earlier, Hank is forced to battle another knight who was offended by the remark. In an effort to crush the ancient norms of chivalry, Hank not only battles the knight (using a lasso), but challenges all of the knighthood of Britain. His challenge pays off when he pulls out his six-shooters and lays waste to ten of the knights, the rest breaking ranks and running.
After this incident, three years of bounty follow during which Hank's reforms become common place - except in the Catholic Church. Ultimately Hank is deceived by the Church, King Arthur is betrayed by his son Mordred and the greatest knight of England, Lancelot, who has been in love with Guinevere for ages. When all of this comes to a head, both Mordred and Arthur are dead and the nation is without leadership except for the Church.
Of course Hank can't let this situation stand. Gathering up his very best men, he destroys his wonderful factories and holes up in a cave. The last of the knights, totaling some thirty-thousand, come against him and 53 of his best men (52 and Clarence). Nearly all of the knights are destroyed. But what Hank and Clarence hadn't considered is what the decaying men's bodies would do to them seeing as how they can't leave the cave.
In the end, Merlin, the magician that has plagued Hank since his arrival, sneaks into the cave disguised as a woman and casts a spell on Hank, causing him to sleep for 13 centuries or until his own time again. After the spell, Merlin is killed and the story ends.
There is no doubt in my mind that Samuel Clemens is one of the greatest writers of all time. This book is not only superbly written, but absolutely hilarious and remarkably insightful. Some of Clemens' insights into humanity are astonishing.
The story itself is pretty good, though the ending is a little bit well, open. You aren't sure exactly what happened, though you have a pretty good idea. I would love to read something about 'the writing of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court', it likely draws upon Rip Van Winkle as well as numerous other writers and writings of the day.
There is also a lot of commentary about the Catholic Church and its oppressive nature. Whether this is based in early American anti-Catholic sentiment or just plain anti-religious sentiment, I don't know (both are possibilities considering the time period). Perhaps the aforementioned book about this book, when written, will answer that question. I chose to look at it as anti-religious sentiment and thoroughly enjoyed it throughout.
Overall, this book is a definite must read for everyone. I recall having read a children's shortened version when I was about ten, but reading in its original form is a treat. Read this book.
on February 6, 2003
This action adventure drama is a Mark Twain tale of a troubled man redirecting his life the fit the sixth century lifestyle. Written from his pen at the low point of his career, Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee was unorganized, and is unable to hold one's attention.
After being forcefully struck on the head by a not so gentle tool, Hank Morgan awakes with the realization that he is not in Kansas any more, in fact he is not in Connecticut either. He opens his eyes as a distraught stranger who has collided with a new age of unworldly elements, known as the sixth century. Coming from nineteenth century America, he is only equipped with confusion and bewilderment. Although throughout his existence in his present setting he learns that he possesses the power of knowledge and experience that he has involuntarily drawn from the well of the future. Stealthily using this to his advantage he quickly works his way up Camelot's socioeconomic ladder he then takes a position among the sixth century's finest.
Almost immediately after acquiring his coveted political stature Hank is questioned of his worth. He is challenged with a knightly quest. Adventure arouses when he nobily accepts this journey. On the way he partners with a disarranged, yet flamboyant, long-winded maiden who shares Hank's company, while ruining his silence throughout their quarry. All through Hank's entity in the sixth century he indirectly influences the people with his foreign knowledge, all the while going through life altering experiences that will be impressed upon his mind for the rest of his days.
It is obviously shown that Mark Twain was in an unhappy stage of his life while composing this peace. Do not be disillusioned by past reputations. The strong and healthy characters, depthful plots, and striking adventure are absent in this book. The story gave a feeling of gloomy misery, and anger. The climax and conclusion were blunt and quite unsatisfying, leaving the reader not only needing more, but wanting a plot as well. Packed with interesting yet depressing insights to mankind, and the actuality of the often glorified Camelot, the story does leave one thinking. Although all the while giving the reader a stale and dismal reaction. Consistently questioning the reader's interest, this book is graced with an unconcluded and depressing response.
on January 8, 2003
Blast from the Past or Blast of Nothing?
The story A Connecticut Yankee in King Authors Court by Mark Twain takes place in the 6th century in King Authors court. Hank Morgan ,the main character, gets cracked on the head with a crowbar while working in his colt-factory in Hartford, Connecticut. He gets put back in time and into King Authors Court were he has to figure out how to get out of being hung by the king for being an outsider.
This adventures tale introduces how to never give up and make the best out of a bad situation. Although sounding interesting, parts of the novel are written in old English, therefore recommended from high school up. Personally, the book wasn't the best I had ever read. For a young reader, the book is hard to keep on track when reading the lengthful pages.
Sounding interesting, Hank Morgan, the boss, struggles to go through 6th century life. Sounding like you'll get a blast from the past, I myself only give this book two stars. Although many very strong readers may like the novel, many people may get lost in the book by falling asleep on the pages.