Book Cover
Title A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Series ---
Author Mark Twain
Cover Art Frank Nicholas
Publisher Whitman Publishing Company - 1955
First Printing ---
Category Classic
Warnings None

Main Characters

Hank Morgan, King Arthur and his Knights

Main Elements Arthurian, time travel
Website Available on Project Gutenberg


When I first started reading the novel, it immediately reminded me of fanfiction I've read on the net. Not in plot but in writing style and plot devices. I mean, how would a guy who grew up in nineteenth century America know that there would be total solar eclipse on July 21st in the fourth century? He wasn't exactly an astrophysicist either!

So I was a little disappointed in my first attempt to read a Mark Twain novel. But I kept reading, as I enjoyed his writing style anyway, and things got a little more believable. Mind you, only a little. They do eventually set up a telephone system in medieval England after all.

But the story is sincerely funny, and a lot of fun to read. We've all heard the great and chivalrous stories of Arthur and his Knights, but truth is, they were probably a little more like the characters in this book. They were the nobles, the serfs were the poor, and it was perfectly acceptable to take a stranger you meet on the road as your prisoner. And the prisoner would think it perfectly normal too. It was just the way things were.

Our narrator, Hank Morgan, the Yankee from Connecticut, takes advantage of their naivety, and convinces them that he's a great wizard, greater even than Merlin. And it doesn't take much to do so, all he had to do was rely on that handy solar eclipse. After that they believed anything he said. He became Arthur's second man, and was known as Sir Boss. Not that they really knew what the word meant, but they liked it anyway.

He, on the other hand, though not exactly unhappy, feels that some changes need to take place. The beforementioned telephone for example. Also, he thought there should be more equality amongst the peoples, so he set out to educate the poor, to free the slaves, and to humble the knights.

But the best part, is perhaps the use of language. The way Twain describes things. Like the meeting with Clarence the page:

This was an airy slim boy in shrimp-colored tights that made him look like a forked carrot...
Now that's imagery! So if you liked that line, then you'll be glad to know the rest of the book is as tongue-in-cheek, and you'll really enjoy it. I recommend it, however unbelievable that solar eclipse bit might have been and the somewhat disappointing ending.

Posted: August 2007


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