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Hank Morgan finds himself transported back to England's Dark Ages -- where he is immediately captured and sentenced to death at Camelot. Fortunately, he's quick-witted, and in the process of saving his life he turns himself into a celebrity -- winning himself the position of prime minister as well as the lasting enmity of Merlin.
Daniel Beard's original illustrations accompany the story of a Connecticut workman who finds himself transported back to medieval England
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is an 1889 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. The book was originally titled A Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Some early editions are titled A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur. In it, a Yankee engineer from Connecticut is accidentally transported back in time to the court of King Arthur, where he fools the inhabitants of that time into thinking he is a magician-and soon uses his knowledge of modern technology to become a "magician" in earnest, stunning the English of the Early Middle Ages with such feats as demolitions, fireworks and the shoring up of a holy well. He attempts to modernize the past, but in the end he is unable to prevent the death of Arthur and an interdict against him by the Catholic Church of the time, which grows fearful of his power.
Daniel Beard's original illustrations accompany the story of a Connecticut workman who finds himself transported back to medieval England
Romance, burlesque, and tragedy are ingeniously mixed in a wildly imaginative tale about a down-to-earth, inventive Yankee who suddenly finds himself in King Arthur's court. Critical reaction was harsh, the book being called "coarse ... a vulgar travesty." In an attempt to counteract this reception, in 1889 Clemens wrote for help to Andrew Lang, an admirer. "I have been misjudged," he said. "Help me, Mr. Lang; no voice can reach further than yours in a case of this kind, or carry greater weight of authority." Lang replied with an article, "The Art of Mark Twain," which appeared in the Illustrated London News. After confessing that he had not cared to read the Yankee, he proceeded to devote the rest of the article to the glorification of Huckleberry Finn. (From "A Centennial For Tom Sawyer")
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 Arthurs court. Initially confused and dismayed, Hank Morgans 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 doesnt distract him from a more profound impulse, however. Hanks 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 Twains 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 Britains royalty. Its 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 individuals attitude changes from meek acceptance to self assertion. Hanks 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? Twain relocates the roots of American democracy from the heart of the frontier yeoman farmer to the brain of the urban industrial worker. Here the man of wide, practical experience shows how to survive compared to those with a formal education. Hank has a simple ambition - establishment of a republic - but utilizes a broad spectrum of ideas to bring it about. He would gladly replace the Established Church of Rome with his own Presbyterian ideals, but is aware that it would be swapping one evil for another. Each man should select his own religion, or make one he contends. Yet, finally, it is this dread force that impairs his desire for change. The final sequence stands as a peer to the biblical Armageddon, Twain wallowing in a frightful bloodletting unseen in any of his other works. Mark Twain contrasts the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution with the centuries of slavery, serfdom, and poverty that killed countless more people than that spasm of excising of aristocracy. What else spurred him to write of human rights with such passion? He had written of slavery before, but this book is especially wrathful in describing the peculiar institution eliminated in his homeland but a generation before. He forces the king to experience the slaves condition, a form of degradation he would have all aristocrats endure. Every feature of the human condition is examined in this timeless treasure. He challenges you to follow his gaze, considering whether todays societies, monarchical or not, will endure the scrutiny.

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