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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

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One of the greatest satires in American literature, Mark Twain's 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' begins when Hank Morgan, a skilled mechanic in a nineteenth-century New England arms factory, is struck on the head during a quarrel and awakens to find himself among the knights and magicians of King Arthur's Camelot. The 'Yankee' vows brashly to "boss the whole country inside of three weeks" and embarks on an ambitious plan to modernize Camelot with 19th c. industrial inventions like electricity and gunfire. It isn't long before all hell breaks loose!

Written in 1889, Mark 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' is one of literature's first genre mash-ups and one of the first works to feature time travel. It is one of the best known Twain stories, and also one of his most unique. Twain uses the work to launch a social commentary on contemporary society, a thinly veiled critique of the contemporary times despite the Old World setting.

While the dark pessimism that would fully blossom in Twain's later works can be discerned in 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, ' the novel will nevertheless be remembered primarily for its wild leaps of imagination, brilliant wit, and entertaining storytelling.

480 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1889

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About the author

Mark Twain

10.2k books17.1k followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads database.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion's newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, before heading west to join Orion. He was a failure at gold mining, so he next turned to journalism. While a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," which proved to be very popular and brought him nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling.

He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker. His wit and satire earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.

However, he lacked financial acumen. Though he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures, in particular the Paige Compositor, and was forced to declare bankruptcy. With the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers, however, he eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain worked hard to ensure that all of his creditors were paid in full, even though his bankruptcy had relieved him of the legal responsibility.

Born during a visit by Halley's Comet, he died on its return. He was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age", and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature".

Excerpted from Wikipedia.

Μαρκ Τουαίν (Greek)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,786 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,845 followers
January 22, 2023
Forget Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, this is Twains´ greatest work.

And his unknown, shorter stories, all doing the only thing to make humankinds´ extreme stupidity and cruelty bearable, by satirizing them in a way no other classic author could or dared. Although some of it was released after his death, so he knew about the dynamite effect it would have on bigoted and hypocritical conservatives. It´s very meaningful that, even today, his great social criticism is almost forgotten, or deliberately ignored, in contrast to his much more famous novels that had criticism in them too, but just showed the evil characters, not the evil system itself. Seems as if we still haven´t gone so far to be able to have open, mature discussions about history, politics, and faith.

Feudalism plus escalating faith was a match made in hell, costing humankind 1,5k years of potential earlier development, killing hundreds of millions or even more

Too big to fail?
I like the sci-fi trope of any great empire of the past, take whatever you prefer, may be influenced by culture, epigenetics, and tradition, but let´s roll with the great Chinese, Indian, Mongol, Arab, Egypt, Persian, Roman,… empire or the Aztecs, Inka, Maya, Khmer... See all those ruins? All were dictatorships with the well implemented seed of self destruction and just one time the coincidence and extreme improbability of an intelligent government would have been enough to change world history. They could have prospered, developed technology, democracy, become invincible by the way, possibly achieving world domination hundreds and thousands of years before, bringing the rest of the world peace and prosperity, and leading to a today that looks like what we imagine as something possible between 3000 to 3500 or something. Humans are amazing at destroying their own potential.

Noble knights and kings just in ones´ dreams
Hardly any novel opened my eyes more for the dark side of all the great stereotypes of Medieval times, knights, the often idealized, even romantic setting, than this ingenious diatribe against dictatorship, slavery, and feudalism, using the for the time revolutionary time travel scheme and culture clash tropes to let the reader understand what horrible persons many fictitious and real emperors were.

Strangely the ultra far away past was somewhat better
One can interpret so much in the long inner monologues of the main protagonist, who is thinking about improving the medieval world, and that it was written at a moment when democracy was (even more than nowadays) still a farce, makes it a culture study monument. Twain lived in a time we deem as extremely primitive and brutal and he looked back at even worse times. And before these times, there were more primitive, but fairer times, before the stupidity of some owning all and patriarchic, unsustainable inhumanity took control.

At least we´re backlashing hard
It makes one hopeful for the future, because we have already achieved so much, and because artists like Twain have the capability to make one cautious and alarmed to stay on the right path, as the demagogues and maniacs of extremism of all kinds won´t disappear overnight and we as humans haven´t really evolved that much in intelligence over the last few centuries to make utopia great again forever. Rudimentary reading and writing, more points on the IQ scales, more mass produced academics, but looking through the democratic world at this moment, 2020 (2023 when rereading), doesn´t make it seem as if enlightenment or any ideals of the great thinkers and movements of the 19th and 20th centuries are appreciated, practiced, debated, or lived anymore.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Anne.
4,053 reviews69.5k followers
April 6, 2017
DNF 60%


I just came to the realization a few minutes ago that I'm a grown-ass woman who doesn't have to read boring shit.
This was some boring shit!
Ok, I'll be the first to admit that classics aren't 'my jam', but A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court looked, on the surface, fun enough to be readable.


Ok, for example:
This woman (whatshername) is reading a reallyreallyreally dull account of some fight between knights. But instead of just SAYING, "Whatshername reads a really dull account of some fight between knights.", Twain writes out PAGES and PAGES of a really fucking dull fight between knights and forces us to read the goddamn thing!
Fuck you, Mark Twain! FUCK YOU!


So what was this about? Fuck all if I know. All I got out of it (and I read over half!) was that Twain hates the Catholic church, and thinks people in the middle ages were stinky retards.


Oh, but Anne! What about Twain's trademark humor?
Where was the funny?! Show it to me! Show me the funny! You can't, because it's NOT there! In fact, this book is like some weird black hole that literally sucks the happiness out of you.
Have you been bitten by a good story lately?
Well, here! This...this is the antidote to a good book!

I started this at the end of January and it's now April.
I'm calling it.
Time of death: 8:41 am. 4/5/17


Buddy read on 1/30/17 with Jeff, Holly, & Ginger!
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.1k followers
January 22, 2018
It's rare that I get swept up in a story for class, but this book managed it! I've never read any Mark Twain before, and this was a super fun place to start with. This book was hilarious, clever, and endlessly interesting. It's biggest fault for me is its length - there really is no reason for it to be this long, especially since the narrative is very much anecdotal and actually felt a lot like a short story collection. I'm very interested in picking up another Mark Twain in the future!
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews41 followers
November 23, 2021
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is an 1889 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain.

In the book, a Yankee engineer from Connecticut named Hank Morgan receives a severe blow to the head and is somehow transported in time and space to England during the reign of King Arthur.

After some initial confusion and his capture by one of Arthur's knights, Hank realizes that he is actually in the past, and he uses his knowledge to make people believe that he is a powerful magician.

He attempts to modernize the past in order to make peoples lives better, 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.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «غریبه ای در قصر»؛ «یک یانکی در دربار آرتور شاه»؛ «ینگه دنیائی در دربار آرتور شاه»؛ نویسنده: مارک تواین؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست وهشتم ماه ژانویه سال2016میلادی

عنوان: یک یانکی در دربار آرتور شاه؛ نویسنده: مارک تواین؛ مترجم: فریده مهدوی دامغانی؛ تهران، تیر، سال1379؛ در193ص؛ شابک9646581471؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده19م

عنوان: ینگه دنیائی در دربار آرتور شاه؛ نویسنده: مارک تواین؛ مترجم: علی فاطمیان؛ تهران، تیر، سال1379؛ در233ص؛ شابک9644221753؛

عنوان: غریبه ای در قصر؛ نویسنده: مارک تواین؛ مترجم: علی ��کبر لبش؛ تهران، نشر چشمه، سال1394؛ در343ص؛ شابک9786002296757؛

عنوان اصلی کتاب «یانکی در دربار شاه آرتور» است، برخی از نسخه‌ های نخستین، حتی با عنوان «یانکی در دادگاه شاه آرتور» هم چاپ شده، ماجرای یک مهندس یانکی، از «کنتیکت» است، که به طور تصادفی، با ضربه ای که به سرش میخورد، خود را در «انگلستان» سده های میانی میلادی میبیند، در حقیقت به گذشته، و به زمان دربار «شاه آرتور» برمی‌گردد، جاییکه او را یک نادان می‌انگارند، اما او به زودی با استفاده از دانش خویش، تبدیل به یک شعبده باز می‌گردد؛

داستان «غریبه‌ ای در قصر» این‌گونه آغاز می‌شود: «من امریکایی هستم؛ در «هارتفورد» ایالت «کانکتیکات» درست بالای رودخانه، در روستایی متولد، و بزرگ شدم؛ بنابراین یک ینگه‌ دنیایی واقعی و کار‌بلد هستم؛ بله و تقریبا خالی از احساسات عاطفی یا به عبارت دیگر خالی از طبع شعر؛ پدرم آهنگر بود، و عمویم بیطار (دامپزشک)، و من در کودکی هر دو کار را یاد گرفتم؛ سپس به کارخانه‌ ی اسلحه‌ سازی بزرگی رفتم، و حرفه‌ ی اصلیم را آموختم؛ تمام آن‌چه را که مربوط به کار بود، فراگرفتم؛ ساختن همه‌ چیز را یاد گرفتم: «تفنگ»، «ششلول»، «توپ»، «دیگ بخار»، «موتور»، و تمام انواع ماشین‌ آلاتی که کارها را آسان می‌کند؛ من می‌توانم تمام چیزهای مورد نیاز انسان را بسازم، هر چیزی را، فرقی نمی‌کند، و اگر روش جدیدی برای ساختن آن وجود نداشته باشد، به آسانی غلتاندن کنده‌ ی درخت، اختراعش می‌کنم؛ خلاصه، در کارخانه سرکارگر شدم، و دوهزار نفر زیر‌دستم بودند؛ خب، چنین آدمی، کله‌ اش پرباد می‌شود، و حرف کسی را باور نمی‌کند؛ آدمی که دوهزار مرد خشن، زیر‌دستش باشند، مثل خروس‌ جنگی می‌شود، به‌ هر حال من این‌طوری بودم؛ تا این‌که حریفی پیدا شد، و حقم را کف دستم گذاشت؛ سوء تفاهمی میان من و او، که هرکول صدایش می‌زدیم، پیش آمد و برای رفع آن دست به دیلم بردیم؛ او ضربه‌ ای به سرم زد و ...؛»؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 04/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 01/09/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Kara.
Author 22 books78 followers
November 23, 2008
Most people think they know this story - but they don't - they just know the fish-out-of-water story that is just the surface of this book; this is really a story of about the biggest problems Mark Twain observed in his time period, including slavery, abuses of political power, unchecked factory growth, child labor, and frightening new war technology. The final battle scene eerily predicts World War One. While the book has many funny moments, it's really a somber, reflective, sad story.
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,190 reviews1,812 followers
March 16, 2022

Viaggio indietro nel tempo anche il fortunato film di Giuseppe Bertolucci con Roberto Benigni e Massimo Troisi del 1984.

Un comune mortale, nato e cresciuto in Connecticut, durante una lite rimedia un colpo in testa e si trova misteriosamente e inspiegabilmente trasportato indietro nel tempo e in un altro luogo: l’Inghilterra di re Artù, 528 d.C.
Viene presto preso per mago visto che le sue conoscenze sono circa quindici secoli più sviluppate – non bisogna dimenticare che anche per il XIX secolo l’americano Hank ha conoscenze tecniche piuttosto sviluppate. Merlino, il mago ufficiale dell’epoca, è retrocesso, e lo yankee viene perfino chiamato il Capo.
Se non che l’intruso si comporta abbastanza come un colonialista, trattando dall’alto in basso la gente di Camelot, quando va bene con paternalismo, quando invece con disdegno e superiorità.
Tuttavia sarà proprio una magia di Merlino a rimandarlo nella sua giusta epoca.

Se Hank è bravissimo tecnologicamente, perfettamente al pari col suo tempo, è comunque piuttosto ignorantello in storia, del medioevo sa poco o nulla, e la sua presunzione di moderno americano civilizzato rende i cavalieri, per quanto sporchi e creduloni, simpatici e luminosi.

Uno dei primi esempi di viaggio nel tempo, per quello che mi riguarda, il primo che ho letto, e sicuramente il più divertente. Anche perché il mio film Disney preferito è proprio La spada nella roccia, ho un debole per Artù, i suoi cavalieri, le donzelle e perfino la tavola rotonda.

Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
February 7, 2017
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain is a must read classic.

It is so much more than Bing Crosby fooling the medieval English into believing he created a solar eclipse. It is so much more than a time travel novel and anachronistic knowledge. It is so much more even than a satirical vehicle to examine the deficiencies in romantic England and a tongue in cheek critique of his own nineteenth century culture.

This book is all these and all put together under the genius umbrella of Twain’s brilliant humor and skill. A scathing rebuke and burlesque of chivalric, romantic sentiment, the book is also a literary monster truck beat down of both anglophiles and Southern apologists of his own time.

First published in 1889, it is still fresh and relevant today and still humorous, I laughed out loud a couple of times and his sharp observations made me smile throughout.

Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,041 followers
July 30, 2022
I don't know why this book doesn't rank higher among the classics & isn't discussed more. Twain manages to highlight more of our human & modern society's ills & graces than any other book I've read. This is not just a man out of his time, but a journey of discovering just how large, fast changes, seemingly made for the best, can actually be horrifying with unforeseen consequences. (Sound familiar? Haven't we all been talking about how technology & the Internet has changed our lives so much recently?)

Twain somehow manages to cover it all in this fairly short book; the justice system, technology, human rights, & war. Was he a time traveler himself? He first published this book in 1872, but the final battle is eerily reminiscent of World War I which took place over 3 decades later.

Twain's themes are practically timeless, as often hilarious as they are poignant. The section where Hank, the Connecticut Yankee, is traveling with Arthur incognito is one of my favorites. The Yankee was out of his own time & kingdom, but Arthur is even more out of place simply due to his status.

The writing style takes a bit of getting used to, but is wonderful, giving even Shakespeare a run for his money. Take this gem:
I passed them at a rattling gait, and as I went by I flung out a hair-lifting soul-scorching thirteen-jointed insult which made the king's effort poor and cheap by comparison. I got it out of the nineteenth century where they know how.

The story isn't perfect. Characters were too often caricatures, common to Twain's writing, but he uses this to great effect when circumstance suddenly twists. There was quite a bit of convenience to the plot, but again this is used to make his points. Overall it is an amazing read & one that should be hauled out every decade or so & reviewed.
Profile Image for Jeff .
912 reviews707 followers
February 22, 2017
Welcome to Mark Twain’s cranky, bilious period!

Beset by financial problems, bad investments and the complete failure of his meth lab experiments…

…Twain looked to work off some steam.

He was too old for hookers, so he wrote this book.

The blurb on the back of my edition throws a lot of prospective literary terms at the reader: Satire? Utopian vision? Romantic fantasy? Hilarious Comedy? Well, the fact that all these are bandied about should give you pause for thought, because this book is difficult to pigeon hole and as a result it’s somewhat of a hot mess.

Emphasis on “mess”.

The gist of it: After getting into a brawl with a guy named Hercules and getting a lead pipe upside his head, the Yankee ends up in a faux Medieval Arthurian times. Because he’s a self-righteous, smug prick, who happens to be handy with just about everything, he sets about trying to modernize medieval England.

Utopian, satirical, romantic, chivalric hilarity ensues.

Along the way, Twain gets on his soapbox and rants unendingly about the Catholic Church, monarchies, the Ruling Class, rich people, braggarts, the Catholic Church, people who don’t bathe, the Catholic Church, phonies, people who endlessly tell the same old jokes…

…and the Catholic Church.

I honestly thought this book would have been a lot more fun than it was. I was probably basing that expectation on the movie version, the Bugs Bunny cartoon and most of the rest of Twain’s body of work. Twain’s wit (it can be dark, scathing and twisted at times, kids) is in evidence, but the jarring tonal shifts and my inability to suspend disbelief kind of left me with a dull headache. I had a hard time believing the Yankee was capable of making such radical technology changes all by himself and keeping many of his factories in secret.

The devastating ending brought home one of Twain’s many core points, this one about the futility (and tragedy) of trying to bring technology and values to a time and place that they don’t belong, but by that time I was pushing myself to read it.

Subtlety thy name isn’t Twain.

The takeaway: If you somehow get transported into the past, don’t be a presumptuous asshole and try to change everything, go with the flow for a while, then use your knowledge from the future to appoint yourself Grand Emperor of Earth. Also, stay in school and don’t do drugs.

This was a rogue pantsless buddy read with the likes of Hog-washer and Bacon Breeder Ginger, Everyone’s favorite diaper-wearing Canadian – Evgeny, Holly Go-Lightly and former director of A.I.M. – Boise, Anne. She was let go for pantsing M.O.D.O.K.

If you want to read a tale based on this book minus the humbug whining, try L. Sprague de Camp’s Lest Darkness Fall.

If you want your Arthurian legends better served, there’s plenty of better options as well.

Profile Image for Kevin.
522 reviews106 followers
January 20, 2023
“A democracy will survive until it has an established church.” ~Mark Twain

I sometimes have a hard time getting fired-up over literary fiction unless I can find elements of nonfiction within the story to engage with. Twain, one of my favorite authors, always delivers ample engagement.

“I was training a crowd of ignorant folk into experts, experts in every sort of handiwork and scientific calling. These nurseries of mine went smoothly and privately along undisturbed in their obscure country retreats for nobody was allowed to come into their precincts without a special permit for I was afraid of the church…” (chapter 10, The Beginnings of Civilization)

If you are familiar with the 1949 film adaptation of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Bing Crosby, Rhonda Fleming, yada, yada, yada) but haven’t yet read the novel you are in for a surprise. The film is a whimsical, musical, technicolor romp. The novel is not.

“…I was afraid of a united church, it makes a mighty power, the mightiest conceivable. And then when it by and by gets into selfish hands, as it is always bound to do, it means death to human liberty and paralysis to human thought.” (ibid)

Published in 1889, Twain’s novel chronicles the adventures of a 19th century engineer who somehow gets transported back to the 6th century. Finding himself amidst the likes of King Arthur and Sir Lancelot and Lady Guinevere, he decides, after a little thought, to take full advantage of his situation. Twain’s Yankee sets himself up as an incredibly talented wizard and then proceeds to introduce 1880’s technology to a population of knights, serfs and feudal lords.

“It being my conviction that any Established Church is an established crime, an established slave-pen…” (chapter 16, Morgan Le Fay)

Twain’s reiterations are indicative of his commitment to the separation of church and state. It is a blatantly obvious theme but one that is seldom discussed and often overlooked. Why?

"Concentration of power in a political machine is bad; and an Established Church is only a political machine; it was invented for that; it is nursed, cradled, preserved for that; it is an enemy to human liberty, and does no good which it could not better do in a split-up scattered condition." (chapter 18, The Queen’s Dungeons)

Mark Twain was as much of a philosopher as he was a novelist. An intellectual realist and a bit of a heretic hiding in plain sight.
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,275 followers
July 19, 2016
I managed to be quite disappointed in this book. Yes, some parts are clever and funny, especially near the beginning; but by midway the joke had gone stale, and by the end I was elated to be done with it.

The main problem, for me, was that Twain’s satire is almost wholly directed at the mythologized world of King Arthur. Twain rips apart this world readily enough, but I could not see the purpose in his project. Why bother to write a whole book mocking a time that never existed? I suppose the answer lay in Sir Walter Scott’s immense popularity in Twain’s day. Indeed, it says on Wikipedia that Twain held Scott responsible for the Civil War, since Scott filled up the heads of southerners with romance and battles.

To cut through all these notions of chivalry and honor, Twain ventures to show how superior the modern world is to the world of Scott’s knightly tales. One yankee engineer is enough to subjugate the entire world of King Arthur’s Court. The people are servile and superstitious, the church is nefarious and corrupt, the wizards are foolish frauds, the knights are savage morons, the aristocrats are privileged buffoons—and meanwhile Twain’s narrator, Hank Morgan, is clever, resourceful, and generally goodhearted. Twain finds time to criticize the culture, religion, economy, political system, and even the manners of King Arthur's England. Probably I would have found it all a great deal funnier if I had read Scott; as it was, I found it merely tedious, and self-congratulatory on Twain's part.

Some people have suggested that Twain’s characterization of Hank Morgan is ironic. Perhaps we are meant to see through Hank’s schemes and realize that he, too, is just as muddle-headed as the medieval people he so constantly criticizes. But I do not see any evidence for this view. Hank is always successful; he pulls off his plots without a hitch; he anticipates every difficulty; he finds his way out of every dilemma. He is moral, too; he works to educate the peasants and to create a democracy. In sum, he is the good guy of the story—intelligent, ethical, and successful. It seemed to me that he is only meant to demonstrate the superiority of nineteenth century culture, not its shortcomings.

Aside from Twain’s satirical purpose, which did not interest me, the story struck me as rather slapdash. The pacing was erratic, and the plot episodic. The characterizations were mostly flat and exaggerated. When Twain attempted pathos, such as when a family of sick peasants die before the narrator’s eyes, it comes across as false and heavy-handed. Similarly, the relationship between Hank and Sandy felt rushed and pointless, with Hank’s numerous professions of love only tiresome. Thankfully, the end picks up a little, with a battle scene that, as many have noted, is strangely reminiscent of World War I. Other than that, and a few other well-done scenes, I really could not enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,732 followers
August 22, 2019
"There is no accounting for human beings."
- Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court


I expected Twain to be good, but this was much better than I expected. I was hoping for a good time-travel rollick in King Arthur's court, but I also got a bit of Marxist criticism of both the Catholic Church AND the monarchy. And, AND, it was super quotable (as you would expect from Mark Twain).

So, come for the anachronistic story, but stay for Twain's critique of monarchy, nobility, slavery, and religion. Twain was at the vanguard for both writing almost a SCIFI novel as well as writing a SOCIAL novel. This is one dude who never rested on his Connecticut laurels.
Profile Image for Michael.
Author 2 books1,356 followers
June 13, 2017
I read this years ago, mostly on a commuter train between New Jersey and New York, and I'm convinced the other commuters--mostly men in suits--must have thought I was bonkers because I kept bursting out in laughter. There was one passage I remember re-reading several times, just to see if I could get through it WITHOUT laughing. Alas, no! They really must have thought I was nuts that day. Sure, there is a lot that is improbable and questionable in this book, especially in the set-up (guy gets hit in the head and is transported back in time??) but it gathers strength as it goes, ultimately becoming quite a darkly comedic gem.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,144 reviews1,846 followers
October 20, 2021
A classic that deserves to be. I loved it when young and still think it's great. If you haven't read this I'd recommend that you find it. It's great.


The above was my earlier minimalist review of the novel in question. I'd like to elaborate a bit. At the time Twain wrote this the idea of time travel was unquestionably not cliché. Twain's picture of the "competent every-man American" dropped into the midst on King Arthur's court is by turns comic and tragic.

Our hero (The Boss)seems to land on his feet quite well once he comes to the conclusion he's actually "In the past" and not some local insane asylum. His general knowledge of everything from historical facts to mechanical principals serves him well though the people sometimes surprise him a bit.

As noted above in my more abbreviated remarks a classic that's not to be missed.

Profile Image for Steven Medina.
204 reviews935 followers
May 22, 2019
Calificación: 5/5

Un libro que tenía pendiente por leer, pero que sabía que no me iba a aburrir o decepcionar porque me encantan los libros de Mark Twain. Él siempre expreso por medio de su sátira, su desacuerdo y su desprecio hacia la monarquía, y es que con esa forma de expresarlo hace que a medida que se vaya leyendo el libro también le tomemos cierto desagrado y fastidio que no creo que se borré después tan fácilmente. Tantas leyes sin sentido, esos castigos exagerados y desgarradores de solo pensarlo, las injusticias, el hambre, ese abuso de autoridad, la falta de derechos y las humillaciones por parte de la monarquía hacen que nos cambie esa imagen de la Edad Media. Esa imagen en la que prácticamente nos enseñan siempre que esa época fueron solo guerras, asaltos al trono, invasiones y en donde muestran a sus caballeros con las mas honorables actitudes y aptitudes; esa imagen cambia absolutamente para ver que la ignorancia y la falta de cerebro de todos los seres era tan grande que era normal que pelearan como animales sin ningún sentido. Muchas personas murieron sin saber siquiera que estaban haciendo algo sin sentido, que estaban muriendo por proteger a un rey o un noble. Para esos reyes o nobles esos muertos solo eran basura...

En cuanto a la historia me parece muy buena. Una persona con inteligencia que aprovecha sus cualidades para sobrevivir en una época en la cual desconoce porque llegó. Cada aventura fue interesante, fue divertida por algunos momentos, y fue muy entretenido conocer lo siguiente que iba a pasar. Las historias y desenlaces crueles también le aportan muchísimo a la trama, haciendonos sentir realmente compasión por esos personajes imaginarios, aunque quizás en esa época muchas personas si padecieron por tantos malos y muertes escalofriantes. Me pareció algo extraño que nunca se mencionará el nombre del personaje que lee el manuscrito, ni tampoco de "El Jefe", pero creo que en este tipo de historias no afecta demasiado el desarrollo del argumento.

Después de finalizar el libro y reflexionar un poco, esta pregunta quedó en mi mente ... ¿Si pudiera viajar a una época pasada que haría? ¿Que harías tú?
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books598 followers
February 19, 2021
The reason I own a copy of this book is that Barb bought a cheap edition, and copies of several other classics from the same imprint, back in the 90s, to encourage our girls to read "classics." She and I tried reading it together early in this century (2001 is a guess); but she bailed on it early on. I finished it by myself, but only because it's a genre "classic," and at that time in my reading life, I was seriously trying to build up my knowledge of science fiction literature (long story!) Twain is a writer I officially count as a favorite, but I don't regard this novel as one of his better works.

Twain wasn't the only writer to use astral projection (here caused by a blow to the head) as a plot device; SF authors of that era were quite fascinated by this idea. It doesn't bother me to have it used as the means of time travel. It's not really plausible as such, but this is soft SF, where the premise doesn't have to be grounded in realistic science; it's just understood to be a literary conceit used to get the protagonist (Hank) to the setting where the author can spin the story he wants to tell. The problem here, from my viewpoint, is that once Hank's there, that story just doesn't work well for me.

Superficially, this novel has significant commonalities with T. H. White's The Once and Future King: both have a speculative fiction element, both are approached in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, both are really interested in making philosophical and social points, and both adopt the convention of the Arthurian era as resembling the High Middle Ages (when the Arthurian literature that shaped the later views of the legend was written), with armored knights operating with a code of chivalry, etc. rather than realistically depicting its actual Dark Ages setting. They both also anachronistically mix many elements of the writers' contemporary material and social culture with the past setting; and even both have wildly clashing tone at times, with humor in some places, depictions or references to grim/grisly violence in others, and serious, moving passages in still others --though White blends those elements into a mixture more smoothly than Twain does. But I gave White's work five stars, and Twain's only one. As this suggests, the differences are more significant than the similarities.

White essentially sees medieval and modern people as sharing a common human nature, good and bad, and is basically sympathetic to medieval culture; it's not viewed as inherently inferior to that of the 1930s, when he was doing his writing, and in fact the two have a lot in common. That shows in his tone and treatment. Twain, on the other hand, approaches the Middle Ages with a markedly condescending attitude of what's sometimes called "presentism," blended with the assumption, which I often encountered as a kid and young man in talking to people who were largely ignorant about history, that past eras were more technologically primitive than their own, not because less of a knowledge base had been built up, but because the people who lived then were mostly just moronically stupid compared to moderns. (Obviously, they weren't --and I observed that the moderns who held that view usually weren't themselves poster boys/girls for brilliance. :-( ) This shows in tone and treatment as well. It's related to the theme of Hank's wholesale introduction of late 19th-century technology into the past setting; this is portrayed as an unambiguously good thing with, as I recall, no particular downside or consideration of technology's social costs and problems.

To be sure, Twain does see a common human nature, to a degree, among all people regardless of how much technology they have; but where White's view of mankind is more nuanced, recognizing both its good and bad potentialities, Twain's view of humanity in the mass is starkly pessimistic --even with the glorious benefits of 19th-century technology, humans can be expected to screw things up dramatically. (That holds a message for his 19th-century readers more than for the 6th century; he doesn't spell it out explicitly, but it's there.) That makes this a much more existentially pessimistic novel than White's Arthurian corpus; and where existential pessimism in a writer like Lovecraft is more a tacked-on "moral of the story," here it's in the warp and woof of the plot. (It could be said that Twain views human nature much like Christianity pictures the depravity wrought by our fallen state; but not being himself a Christian, he doesn't temper it with any conception of possible redeeming grace.) Add to this, cardboard characterizations --Hank and all the other major characters are pretty two-dimensional, and Merlin here is essentially a cartoon villain-- a romance that I didn't personally feel as any real emotional connection, and story-telling that I didn't really find plausible within its own frame of reference, nor very compelling as a story, and you have all the ingredients for an epic fail as a read. (As the saying goes, "Your mileage may vary!")
Profile Image for A.E. Chandler.
Author 4 books179 followers
September 15, 2021
Twain didn’t have time to polish this novel as much as his others, as he needed the cash quickly. This gives a fascinating glimpse into his process, and how he constructed his novels – things that are normally hidden under a solid veneer. An enjoyable look into the layers of a masterpiece of satire.
Profile Image for Megan.
205 reviews89 followers
December 7, 2012
This is a paper I wrote for a class on this novel.

As John Dalberg-Acton, an English historian, politician, and writer, once said “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This theme is illustrated by the character of Hank Morgan in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain. Hank believes that he is the saving grace for the people of Camelot using capitalism as his means to set them free. However, can someone force freedom and a new ideology onto people, and was Hank really just trying to better himself and enhance his power? Following the idea that absolute power corrupts absolutely, Twain shows through his satirical wit that a bloodless revolution is not possible through any change in ideology, especially when the change is to capitalism, which is seen as just another form of corruption and slavery.

On his arrival to Camelot, Hank refers to the people as animals, such as calling them sheep or rabbits. “They were the quaintest and simplest and trustingest race; why, they were nothing but rabbits” (78). In this way he refers to them as weak minded, only capable of reproducing and becoming a bigger mass of uneducated people that, like sheep, need a leader. Hank is the leader he thinks they need. His ultimate goal is to lead the people in a bloodless revolution, which he intends to orchestrate through a capitalist society. After he gains the title of Sir Boss, his first official acts were starting a patent office and then factories. These factories included the Man factories, “a Factory where I’m going to turn groping and grubbing automata into men” (173)*. On the outside these could be seen as a form of people’s empowerment where Hank is educating the masses, turning them into men and leading them towards the light of the 19th century. However, the reality is just Hank showing off his power and knowledge, believing that he is much smarter than the people of Camelot and therefore can rule them easily. Even though Hank does have good intentions of leading the people through a revolution and educating them, it has always been said “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” What these factories are really achieving is giving Hank more power. The factories are used to create technology that only Hank knows how to use and what they are used for. Capitalizing on their superstitions, Hank uses these technologies to sway people to follow him. Using dynamite and fireworks, he undermines Merlin and gains power by proving, through the technology, that he is a greater magician. He also builds a gun and kills countless knights to further prove that he is stronger and more powerful.
“When you are going to do a miracle for an ignorant race, you want to get in every detail that will count; you want to make all the properties impressive to the public eye; you want to make matters comfortable for your head guest; then you can turn yourself loose and play your effects for all they are worth. I know the value of these things, for I know human nature” (235).
Hank can easily be seen at these moments as a con man bluffing and using his wits to make a profit and gain followers. He uses their weaknesses to give himself more strength. Even in the end of the novel, Hank writes a proclamation claiming that he and the people of Camelot are now a government of and for the people, but then signs it from The Boss. His signing it The Boss instead of The People shows that he still believes that he is above the people and that they need to be ruled. They may have a better form of government but they still need someone like Hank to make all the important decisions for them. Even though in Hank’s mind he now sees the people as men, in his actions he still sees them as sheep.

Hank uses the concept of capitalism in Camelot as a way to better himself by tricking the people into thinking that he is helping them. When asked what capitalism is, people most likely answer that it is a free market involved in free trade outside of government regulations. Capitalism is in fact is a monopolized ownership of the means of production and is a system of wage labor. Capitalism is just a sweet illusion of freedom when in fact it is just a clever form of enslavement. Using capitalism Hank changes the structure of those in power. He takes the knights and turns them into walking billboards for things such as soap, which in a means degrades their power and just makes them a cog in the capitalist’s machine. “Brother! -- to dirt like this?” (295). History is cyclical in nature. There is always someone in power and always someone who is oppressed; it is just that the means of oppression get sneakier using hope and the potential for growth in power as their allies. First in history there was the king and his serfs, then the slave master and his slaves, and now we see the capitalist and his worker.
“The most of King Arthur’s British nation were slaves, pure and simple, and bore that name… and the rest were slaves in fact, but without the name; they imagined themselves men and freemen, and called themselves so” (79).
Hank sees all the people in Camelot as slaves even though they don’t realize it. Just his title, Hank is The Boss, shows that he controls the workers, what they make, what they are taught, and their profit. He holds all the power in this capitalist situation. Even though Hank feels like he is doing the people of Camelot a favor, he is just performing a more secretive form of slavery. He is ultimately trying to force this new ideology of capitalism upon the masses trying to convince them of his bloodless revolution and with his scenes and lies they follow him.

Hank’s bloodless revolution is eventually found to be impossible, showing again how history is cyclical. No revolution is victorious without bloodshed. The violence of capitalism, such as getting hit over the head in the workplace, is what initially what brought Hank to Camelot and it is also what destroys Camelot. “I was turning on my light one-candle power at a time, and meant to continue to do so” (99). Hank, throughout all of his schemes, was planning to turn on the lights to people in Camelot, making them brighter and showing them the light which only technology of the 19th century can bring. But it turns out differently than what he planned, “So I touched a button and set fifty electric sums aflame on the top of the precipice… We were enclosed in tree walls of dead men” (460). Everything Hank has worked for all his factories and technology are in the end used as weapons of mass destruction killing hundreds of knights. Hank blows up all his factories and finally flicks on the switch, turning on the lights, and in that moment with the lights blazing, fries the enemy knights on the electric fence. As Hank looks around at his forces at the end of the battle, he sees only 54 of them left. Hank was unable to change many people’s ideologies through his schemes and technology and his idea of capitalism is a failure. In the end it is Merlin, the very person whose power Hank stole, who sends Hank back to his time. This represents that the original ideology of Camelot is what wins the revolution and is allowed to start over after the slate is wiped clean with the destruction of Camelot. Hank’s capitalist ideas and oppression by labor didn’t work and maybe, ultimately, it can’t work.

Hank tried to change the ideology of the nation of Camelot into one similar to where he came from; he used the idea of capitalism. His plan was to use these ideas to create a brighter society turning them from sheep to men and leading them in a bloodless revolution. What Hank seemed to forget was the fact that he was actually just leading the people into a more subtle form of slavery and one that is more corrupt and violent than what they had before. In the end it is found that a bloodless revolution through a change in ideology is not altogether possible, especially when the leader of the revolution wants more power than what is already given to him. With capitalism already considered a corrupt ideology and the idea that absolute power corrupts absolutely, it is easy to see why Hank’s plans don’t pan out in the end. People cannot be forced into changing what they believe no matter how enslaved they are seen from people on the outside.

Update: received a 3.9 on this paper :)
Profile Image for Erik Graff.
5,029 reviews1,163 followers
April 16, 2012
One of the many good things about lying in order to avoid junior high school is that it allows time to read good books. Having done the old "thermometer to the light bulb" trick, I spent a very productive couple of days home in bed reading, among other things, Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

My parents weren't entirely stupid. My frequent illnesses had to be demonstrated by coughing, dripping, abnormal temperature and the like. Since they were still suspicious, it was a rule that I had to stay in bed when ill. This meant no television, no telephone, no sunny days in the backyard with the dog. I don't think they intended to promote reading by this stricture, but it certainly worked that way.
Profile Image for Andrei Tamaş.
438 reviews291 followers
May 31, 2016
Bijuteria asta —care-i bijuterie din toate punctele de vedere!— are unul dintre cele mai nebunesti incipituri pe care mi-a fost dat sa le citesc vreodata. Pe scurt, in secolul al XIX-lea, intr-o uzina din SUA, unu' ii da cu ranga-n cap protagonistului, care se trezeste in secolul VI. Sa vezi trasnaie si nu alta!
Primele doua capitole, "Cuvant lamuritor" (care tine loc de prefata) si "Camelot", ilustreaza intr-o maniera ironica raportul neasteptat dintre "nebunia mea" si "nebunia lumii", moravurile celor doua repere istorice, situate la treisprezece secole distanta, pricinuindu-i eroului un mare neajuns inca de la incept, cand un cavaler (nu un gentleman, in acceptiunea moderna, ci un cavaler in sens clasic, adica unu de-alde aia de-si spargeau scafaliile spre a-si arata "smecheria") il ia la rost pe motiv ca... ce motiv, dom'le? Pe-atunci n-aveai nevoie de motive. Daca te-ntalneam pe strada si nu erai supus al regelui Arthur, aveam datoria -fara macar sa te somez, in prealabil- sa te dobor de la armasar si sa te silesc sa-mi juri ca "in ziua de Rusalii" vei merge de buna voie la curtea regelui Arthur sa i te-nchini...
Tam-nisam, ca sa dau numai unul din punctele forte ale intrigii, yankeul nostru este condamnat la spanzuratoare de catre "Cavalerii Mesei Rotunde". Ceea ce a observat el insa, in sala Mesei Rotunde, unde fusese adus ca "dovada" a "prazii" pe care cavalerul o obtinuse, este faptul ca, la intrunirea respectiva, fiecare cavaler isi istorisea o intamplare din viata lui, da' una' de-aia care-l ridica in slavi, ca, spre exemplu, momentu' ala cand casunase el doisprezece balauri care aruncau flacari pe nari si batuse, de unul singur, treizeci de cavaleri. Moravul se impune in opera si este generalizat. In acest sens, personajul-narator remarca, ulterior, ca "in fata oamenilor acelora nu era nevoie sa dovedesti nimic din ceea ce afirmai; era de ajuns sa afirmi si ei te credeau. Niciodata nu i-a dat prin gand cuiva sa puna la indoiala vreo afirmatie" si "doamne, ce nu fac pe lume educatia, influenta si obisnuinta! Ele au puterea de a face pe om sa creada orice". Oprindu-ma aici pentru o reflectie marginala, am meditat un strop, mai adanc, atunci cand am subliniat cea din urma fraza si -la urma urmei- cu totii suntem conditionati de mentalitatea si de societatea in care traim, drept fiind sa spunem ca unii mai mult decat altii raman impamanteniti in dogma comuna, "general valabila" si "incontestabila". In acest sens, o alta remarca a naratorului mi-a atras in mod deosebit atentia: "Oamenii aceia erau in stare sa savarseasca orice crima, in afara de marea crima de a se abate de la traditie". Desigur, aici traditia era inteleasca in sens feudal.
Da' sa lasam asta, ca la urma urmei am facut o prezentare a intrigii, in loc sa punctez scurt si la obiect aspectul pe care l-am amintit. Asadar, condamnat la spanzuratoare fiind, bagat la zdup si fara speranta de scapare, eroului nostru ii incolteste, pe baza superstitiilor de secol VI, o idee strasnica! Desigur, aceasta idee a fost strans legata de cunoasterea marturiilor istorice, in sensul in care americanul nostru stia ca la 21 iulie 528 s-a produs o eclipsa de soare. Si, vezi doamne, trimite cuvant regelui Arthur ca, daca nu va fi crutat de la spanzuratoare, va stinge becu', folosindu-se de ale sale puteri vrajitoresti nestiute de nimeni. Astia tin sfat -"Bai! Ce sa facem?!"- si hotarasc sa-l spanzure chiar in ziua de 21 iulie. Eroul nostru isi ridica palmele cand primele semne ale eclipsei se intrezareau, iar multimea aia de oameni incepu sa boceasca amarnic, regele facand concesia de a ceda jumatate de regat in schmbul redobandirii luminii soarelui. Protagonistul refuza insa cuviincios si cere, in schimb, functia de prim-ministru (pe care o si primeste fara sovairea regelui).
Na! Si sa tot vezi trasnai, ca telefonul, telegraful, dinamita, curentul electric sau trenul in secolul VI. Aspectele astea sunt mai mult pentru a decolora epoca in ceea ce priveste criteriul arhitectonic si pentru a evidentia adevaratele neregului, cele de ordin moral, adica: ochiul etic al unui om din secolul XIX in Anglia secolului VI.
Si... Dumnezeule! Stilul colocvial al naratorului, cand tensionat, cand ironic ("Nu vezi ca ne-ar lua mai putin timp sa le ducem pe fiecare acasa decat iti ia tie sa-mi explici ca nu se poate?" si, raportat la conceptia feudala a bisericii care interzicea clericilor sa faca o baie: "Nu pretind ca i se puteau vedea fiorii si tremurul decat daca cineva s-ar fi apucat sa-l razaluiasca pentru a da jos jegul de pe el, iar mie nici prin gand nu-mi trecea, dar cum-necum, mi-am dat seama ca asa era si ca sub pojghita de jeg, groasca cat scoarta unei carti, el se cutremura si dardaia"), te face sa-i intuiesti parca vocea si sa ti-l imaginezi in fata ta tragand din pipa si povestindu-ti toata dandanaua asta.
Un alt aspect asupra caruia Twain a insistat a fost limbajul epocii (adica un limbaj gen Ion Neculce sau Grigore Ureche), care face ca unele replici ale personajelor sa fie mai greu de inteles, dar care, totodata, te catapulteaza in vremea respectiva.

Nu stiu pentru cei ce-au citit-o deja ce a reprezentat cartea, insa pentru mine a fost o adevarata declaratie de razboi impotriva formelor de suprimare din toate timpurile. Eu am viziunile mele socialiste si cu atat mai flamand am devorat-o, insa nu numai pentru mine biserica (daca nu are ghiarele taiate), Habsburgii, Bourbonii sau Hohenzollerni deopotriva au reprezentat, in echipa, cea mai criminala clica din istorie. Si nu, nu ma refer la varsarea propriu-zisa de sange, ca pe aia am putea s-o trecem cu vederea, ci, din ratiuni de filosofie istorica, au ucis acel atat de falnic avant uman care-si avea samburele in Roma. *Si acum mi-a venit in cap replica aia din "Gladiatorul"... "There´s once a dream that was Rome. Shall be realized."... Republica...*


"Datorita puterii ce o au ideile mostenite, oamenii aceia nu-si puteau inchipui altceva demn de respect decat spita aleasca si nobletea. Aici se vede mana infioratoarei puteri care este biserica romano-catolica. Asa, la iuteala, in doua-trei secole, prefacuse o natiune de oameni intr-o adunatura de viermi. Inainte de suprematia bisericii in lume, oamenii fusesera oameni intregi si isi tinusera capul sus; avusesera mandrie, judecata si independenta, iar rangul si insemnatatea se dobandeau mai cu seama prin fapte, si nu datoria nasterii. Apoi a rasarit biserica, urmarind un manunchi de interese egoiste si ea s-a aratat iscusita si agera, cunoscand multe chipuri de a scoate sapte piei de pe un om sau de pe un popor. Ea a nascocit monarhia de drept divin, intarind-o si proptind-o de jur imprejur cu ierarhia fericirilor hazardite celor alesi, smulgand virtutile de la locul lor si facandu-le sa slujeasca un scop nevrednic. Ea a predicat -dar mereu numai oamenilor de rand- umilinta, supunerea fata de mai marii lor, frumusetea jertfei; ea a predicat oamenilor de rand sa inghita cu blandete insultele; si tot lor, numai lor, rabdarea si saracia duhului si neimpotrivirea in fata impilarii; si tot biserica a introdus rangurile ereditare si aristocratiile si a invatat toate popoarele de pe fata pamantului sa se plece in fata lor si sa le venereze."

"Fiind convins ca orice biserica de stat este o crima de stat, un tarc pentru sclavii statului, nu aveam nicio remuscare, ba eram gata sa atac biserica in orice fel si cu orice arma care putea izbi cu tarie".


"Majoritatea natiunii britanice a regelui Arthur era alcatuita din sclavi, care purtau acest nume si aveau o zgarda de fier la gat. Adevarul e ca natiunea, in intregul ei, se afla pe lume cu un singur scop: sa se prosterne inaintea regelui, a bisericii si a nobilimii; SA MOARA DE FOAME PENTRU CA EI SA FIE GHIFTUITI; SA MUNCEASCA PENTRU CA EI SA POATA ZBURDA; SA SOARBA PANA LA FUND CUPA AMARACIUNII PENTRU CA EI SA POATA FI FERICITI; SA UMBLE GOI PENTRU CA EI SA POATA PURTA MATASURI SI BIJUTERII; SA PLATEASCA BIRURI PENTRU CA EI SA FIE NEBIRNICI; SA SE OBISNUIASCA O VIATA INTREAGA CU VORBELE SI ATITUDINILE INJOSITOARE, PENTRU CA EI SA POATA PASI CU SEMETIE SI SA SE CREADA ZEII LUMII. Si pentru toate astea nu primeau alte multumiri decat lovituri si dispret, si erau atat de saraci cu duhul incat si aceasta atentie o luau drept cinste".

Regele si yankeul dorind sa cunoasca viata poporului:
"-Acum, maria ta, inchipuieste-ti ca suntem la usa omului care locuieste in coliba aceea si ca ne vede familia lui. Hai, arata-mi cu o sa i te adresezi capului familiei!
Fara voie, regele isi indrepta si intepenii umerii, ca o statuie, si zise cu o glariala asprime:
-Ma, tarane, ai ada-mi un scaun si ospateaza-ma din mancarurile pe care le ai.
-Vai, maria ta! Nu-i bine deloc!
-Dar unde-i greseala?
-Oamenii astia nu-si zic unul altuia tarani.
-Numai cei de deasupra lor le zic tarani.
-Atunci sa-i zic altminterea: ei, ma robule!"

Replica de sclav: "Ce izbanda ca am fost traitori si nu am pierit! Mai mult decat atat, ce-am fi putut cere?"

Replica de "om liber": "Nimeni nu tagaduieste, dara legea taie si spanzura precum pofteste si face asa ca ceea ce iaste al lordului este al lordului, iar ceea ce iaste al meu, tot a lordului iaste".

"...comunitatea aceasta impilata isi isi intorsese privirile si isi ridicase mainile-i nemiloase impotriva propriei ei clase, iar asta spre folosul impilatorilor comuni".

"Regii si regatele erau tot atat de numeroase in Britania, precum fusesera in Palestina, in timpul lui Iosua, cand oamenii erau nevoiti sa doarma cu genunchii la gura pentru ca nu se puteau intinde fara a avea pasaport".

"Dar, intrucat orice om este pieritor si orice ar face tot trebuie sa moara, lasandu-si stapanirea in mainile unui mostenitor imperfect, un despotism nu numai ca e o forma rea de guvernare, ci e chiar cea mai rea forma posibila".

"... o clasa privilegiata, o aristocratie, nu-i nimic altceva decat o banda de proprietari de sclavi sub un alt nume".

Finalul, pe care eu il numesc patetic, in sens peiorativ, nu a facut altceva decat sa accentueze ideile pe care opera le-a expus. De aceea, "taierea" cercului care ar fi trebuit sa formeze opera (incipit-final), isi pierde conturul inainte ca rolul compasului sa se fi incheiat, ceea ce denota ca esuarea protagonisului de a instaura republica nu are nicio relevanta: acest lucru s-a intamplat in secolul al VI-lea. Scopul autorului a fost mai degraba acela de a atrage atentia in mod critic asupra situatiei politice din secolul XIX, cand, exceptand Statele Unite, niciunde nu se putea vorbi de vreo republica acatarii.

Andrei Tamas,
31 mai 2016
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
498 reviews849 followers
November 15, 2014
The next stop in my time travel marathon (November being Science Fiction Month) was A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, the 1889 satire by Mark Twain believed to be the first "time travel" novel ever written. Episodic in nature, delightful in fits and starts but long on text and quite short on character, there's a wonderful book in here if you're a fan of Twain's irreverence and patient enough to wait for it.

The story gets off to a marvelous start with a tourist at Warwick Castle meeting a man from Hartford, a "Yankee of Yankees" named Hank Morgan. For a Yankee, he seems to know a lot about armor and the old country. Bantering over hot scotch whiskey at their hotel, the Yankee reveals that his employment at an arms factory taught him how to make everything from cannons to engines, until one day, a blow to a head transported him to the 6th century, to the reign of King Arthur.

The Yankee retires for the evening and leaves with his fellow traveler a manuscript which documents his experiences with the Knights of the Round Table. Rousted from his resting place under an oak tree, the Yankee is taken captive by "Sir Kay the Seneschal" and marched to Camelot, which he realizes is not a lunatic asylum but the realm of King Arthur, Queen Guenever and Sir Launcelot of the Lake and other big wigs.

Set to be burned at the stake, the Yankee befriends the squire Amyas le Poulet, who he names "Clarence", a boy whose youthful contempt for authority makes him a faithful sidekick. The Yankee uses his knowledge of astronomy to threaten his captors with doom and right on schedule, a solar eclipse the next day spares his life. This puts the Yankee in contempt of Merlin, "the mighty magician and liar". With the court awaiting another miracle, the Yankee uses Clarence to fill Merlin's tower with blasting powder and divines an explosion which topples the building.

The Yankee earns himself office as King Arthur's prime minister and becomes affectionately known as "The Boss". Like Robinson Crusoe, he begins to remake his environment to one befitting a 19th century gentleman. Over the next four years, he opens a patent office, starts a school system and publishes a newspaper. He builds factories and gathers the brightest young minds in the land to apprentice in new industries. He begins to chip away at the clergy by restricting religious teaching to the churches.

The gullibility of people in the 6th century has both its benefits and its liabilities for the Yankee, as well as constant bemusement. "There was never such a country for wandering liars; and they were of both sexes. Hardly a month went by without one of these tramps arriving; and generally loaded with a tale about some princess or other wanting help to get her out of some faraway castle where she was held in captivity by a lawless scoundrel, usually a giant."

One such wandering liar arrives in King Arthur's court with the tale of her mistress and forty-four other beautiful girls held captive in a castle by three brothers, each with four arms and one eye, the eye as big as a fruit ("Sort of fruit not mentioned; their usual slovenliness in statistics.") Compelled to leave Camelot to mount an adventure, the Yankee dons full armor and rides into the countrywide with the girl, Demoiselle Alisande a la Carteloise, who he names "Sandy". Many misadventures and misunderstandings ensue.

The idea for A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court came to Twain during the book tour to promote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in December 1884. At a bookstore in Rochester, New York, novelist George Washington Cable suggested to Twain that Sir Thomas Malory's epic La Morte de Arthur might make good reading material for the trip. Twain began reading it and jotted the following note in his journal:

"Dreamt of being a knight errant in armor in the middle ages. Have the notions & habits of thought of the present day mixed with the necessities of that. No pockets in the armor. No way to manage certain requirements of nature. Can't scratch. Cold in the head--can't blow--can't get a handkerchief, can't use iron sleeve."

One of the pleasures of reading this novel of time travel is its timelessness. The legend of Camelot might have been killed by Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but the popularity of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones has made this milieu as ripe for the razzing as ever. Twain's irreverent tone seems to have inspired Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits or at least proved a case artistic coincidence, with the Robin Hood sequence in that comedy demonstrating the same contempt for medieval legends as Twain does. Bloodshed, not chivalry, is their primary contribution to history.

Speaking of violence, this novel is exceedingly so, though not in a graphic way. Twain pinned blame of the Civil War on Sir Walter Scott and Ivanhoe, which he felt installed a bogus sense of rank, caste and entitlement on landholders the antebellum South -- which like Camelot, also practiced slavery -- and rather than use time travel as romantic tourism, Twain uses it to disembowel that system for all its worth. Much as he would in Huckleberry Finn, Twain jumps all over charlatanism and religious fanaticism as well.

Several chapters here are merely Twain the humorist speaking his mind on government, religion, law & order without even attempting to disguise this in a story. Several of the adventures in the last half of the novel get a little long in the tooth and compared to his masterworks, I was disappointed how little room Twain made for other characters here. The Yankee's two friends Clarence and Sandy, and the cast of Camelot, are really only mentioned in passing. What rises to the surface is the protagonist and his colorful ranting.

This 2005 edition includes dozens of delightful illustrations by Dan Beard which contribute to the considerable whimsy of the story and break up a lot of the text, which as I mentioned, rambled on a bit too long for my taste. How much you enjoy the novel might come down to how much of Mark Twain's irreverence your metabolism can tolerate and how much story and character you need. For me, it was a very good novel, but not a great one.
Profile Image for Sarah.
14 reviews6 followers
August 3, 2007
A book about going to a backwards place, dominated by an ignorant faith and blowing a lot of stuff up in the name of freedom. If you can be non-cynical enough, you might be able to find sympathy for our American freedom-fighters in Iraq by reading of Hank's well-meaning attempt at a socio-political overhaul. I won't tell you how it ends, but your world won't be too rocked. This book is really amazing to read from our contemporary perspective. Here's a cusp-industrial mind writing on the dark ages. It's sort of like we get to time-travel twice.

Somehow though, Twain manages to seem more than ahead of the dark ages, more than ahead of his own time, he seems ahead of our time. His book, as it sees Arthurian England ratchet awkwardly up to the 19th Century brings to light the same issues we are dealing with today. The benefits versus the costs of technology, the tenaciousness of class lines and the ignorance produced by religious faith. It's very much worth the time today to read a great American's thinking on these issues and be reminded that though ideals are necessary for advancement, they must put humanity first or be made monstrous.

Also, look out for some very, very dry humor. I know I didn't pick up all of it, but what I did was a treat. Finally, I recommend getting an edition that includes the original illustrations - they're beautiful and funny.
Profile Image for Gary Inbinder.
Author 8 books176 followers
September 23, 2019
3.5 stars

If you're looking for a humorous, time-traveling romp through Arthurian England you'll be disappointed. The humor in this novel is dark and, IMHO, much of it not very amusing. For the most part, this story is a caustic satire of chivalry, monarchy, nobility, and established religion.

The protagonist is a late 19th century superintendent of a large arms factory--based on Hartford's Colt Armory--who's transported back to 6th century England by a blow on the noggin received during a fight with a belligerent worker. He wakes in a place that hardly resembles the legendary realm, not to mention the musical fantasy land of "Camelot." On the contrary, in this story King Arthur is a noble dunce, Guinevere an upper-class floozy who doesn't count for much in the story except as a plot driver, the knights a bunch of dim-witted, privileged bullies, Merlin a snake-oil purveying charlatan, the priests and monks a bunch of knaves and fools.

6th century England is dark, dirty, abysmally ignorant, unspeakably cruel, plague-ridden and depressing. The Yankee believes in progress through education, enlightenment, science, industry, free trade and technology. He uses his advanced knowledge from 13 centuries in the future to perform "miracles" and soon becomes Arthur's right-hand man, titled The Boss. With the help of his loyal page Clarence and his "fair lady" Alisande (Sandy) he sets about transforming the backwards nation on the sly. He sets up academies, factories, newspapers, advertising and marketing, communications by wire (telephone and telegraph), steam engines, an electrical power grid and dreams of abolishing slavery, feudalism, the established church and the monarchy with the ultimate goal of transforming King Arthur's realm into a constitutional republic where all men and women have guarantees of equal rights and due process under a rule of just laws. Does he succeed? No spoiler here. Let's just say the ending is consistent with the pessimism that's present in most of Mark Twain's later writings.
Profile Image for Natalie.
113 reviews
September 24, 2011
Hank, a Yankee from Early America, has found himself in the sixth century. He's now a pupil of King Arthur, a member for Britain, and he's challenged that time periods most magical and dangerous man--Merlin. However, with his superior knowledge and the sciences from his world he is easily able to out stage and out smart not only Merlin, and all other challengers, but the Kingdom itself. He starts small, wanting to add soap and bathing into the equation for cleaner and more sanitary persons. He moves to advancing the sixth century into the power and magic of a Republic, hoping to take the country without blood and making all people free and equal. Along his adventures he finds how simple minded and superstitious these people are and plays to their weaknesses. If only they would listen to his amazing superiority and high intellect then they could find the joy and peace that he has imagined for them.
I found this book a quite difficult read. For someone who loves the King Arthur tales and the medieval time period this read was a horrible twist of the life-style and ways of a people. It made out Merlin, King Arthur, Lancelot, and all the people involved as mere simpletons that cared not for the world, the going-on's around them and in particular made them appear illogical and self-oppressed. "The Boss", as Hank became known and titled, thought that only his way and ideas could be right and therefore didn't care to listen to others opinions or let things stay the way they were with others or the kingdom. The book was also boring at times, adding to my difficulty in getting through it as I particularly did not like the main character as I found him rude, close-minded, and particularly belittling of others. Mark Twain definitely knows how to skew a perspective, a classic story, and get a point across.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,081 reviews2,717 followers
August 6, 2023
I wish I could remember who told me I would love this book and find it hilarious, but maybe it is for the best I don’t recall because if I did know who it was I would immediately call them on our newfangled telephone wire and say they were a chowderhead and a ninnyhammer.

To be fair, the basic description of this Mark Twain novel sounds like something I would enjoy: a fellow from 19th-century America gets knocked in the head and wakes up in 6th-century England, during the reign of King Arthur. Our interloper realizes that his 1800s knowledge of engineering and technology makes him the smartest person in the world at that point, and he sets his mind to modernizing the whole country. Hijinks ensue.

I typically enjoy stories of clever people doing clever things, but the tone of this book was all over the place and made for a bit of a slog. It was also slow to get started, and then there were looooooooong passages of pointless dialogue and/or exposition, which seemed to be Twain’s way of showing off that he had done some research about King Arthur’s court.

I listened to this on audio, performed by Nick Offerman, and he made such an effort with his narration that I rounded up my overall rating.

While I didn't find the book that humorous, Twain did have some good lines in it:

"You can't reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns."

"How empty is theory in the presence of fact!"

"Never regret anything that made you smile"

"Their very imagination was dead. When you can say that of a man he has struck bottom... there is no lower deep for him."

Profile Image for Holly.
1,449 reviews1,084 followers
April 28, 2017
Mark Twain is dead to me. Ok, so he's dead anyways, but you know what I mean. This book is terrible! TERRIBLE! How terrible? Well, over the span of 70 days I only got to the 60% mark and I just could not force myself to finish it. Why was this book so hard to read? A primary example would be the fact that at one point, a single sentence spans THREE WHOLE PAGES of the book. That's right. You have to read three full pages of text until you finally see a period. While perhaps an impressive use of semi-colons and other punctuation in order to drag that nonsense out, I think it was supposed to be some kind of attempt at humor to show how the character that went on a single sentence monologue was verbose. But that could have been achieved without making the reader actually read, you know, a freaking three page sentence! And that was just the tip of the 'this book is awful' iceberg for me. This was just one big rant about religion, the whole system of monarchs/royalty/nobility, and apparently the idiocy of everyone in medieval times, poorly disguised as a book. It's not subtle, it's relayed in a way that's almost impressively boring, and it's generally obnoxious whenever it attempts to be humorous. I would in fact wish this book on my worst enemy because being forced to read this whole thing would be a good form of non-violent punishment!

Buddy read with Jeff and Anne
Profile Image for Jennifer (formerly Eccentric Muse).
466 reviews994 followers
August 4, 2012
Ok, so Mark Twain. This is the only one I've read, once way back when and just now. MT/SLC - he's not really part of the curriculum or general literary zeitgeist in Canada. So I don't really know much about him or about that Huckleberry boy and the other one, Tom. I'm likely talking out of my hat when I say, if you liked them you've just got to like this one. Although maybe this is more directly scathing and satirical?

Connecticut Yankee is an eviscerating take-down of the entire British social structure, y'know, the one that the U.S. revolted (or as Twain would say "revoluted") against. On top of that, it's a castigation of the RC Church and its role in the oppressions of, at the time he was writing, the past 1800+ years. And most of all, it's an abolitionist tale. Call 'em serfs, call 'em slaves (as Twain does), same difference. This is a plea for egalitarianism and humanism.

At the same time, "The Boss" - as the prototypical late-19th century entrepreneur and manufacturing baron -- is flawed and gently mocked for his belief that capitalism and technology will win the day. I don't know how much mockery would have been recognized at the time of publication, but from 100+ years later, we can clearly see the hand of a clear-eyed and prescient satirist at work in the immense and disproportional carnage wreaked by the improved technology of warfare, the raping and pillaging of natural resources and resulting destruction of the environment of the Industrial Age, the rabid commercialism that leads to the trading of one type of slavery for another.

Twain does not give two hoots for historical accuracy here, nor for any of the conventions by which literary time travel is supposed to "work." He doesn't care if this makes any logical sense, and to make sure we understand that, he picks, first of all, the already fictional 6th-Century King Arthur and his Knights as the time to travel back to. He then thinks nothing of weaving in references to King Henry VIII and the Tower of London and a bunch of other anachronistic details that defy the historical record and the laws of physics. That is part of the delight of this book - it's a romp.

His brush is so broad he takes the piss of everyone and everything on that little island of Britain from about 500 to 1850 A.D.

This perhaps goes without saying, because no satire is fully effective without it, but his righteous anger is not just expressed through ridiculousness and absurdity -- there are scenes here that are heartbreaking and tragic, and Twain skilfully reins in his pen to paint these with the pathos (albeit romanticized and sentimentalized) they require to keep our eyes focused on the fact that there are real people who suffer at the hands of others and institutions who enslave them.

Powerful reading (and a bit of a brain-twist, coming right after Wolf Hall, which I'm off to review in just a moment.
Profile Image for Ben-Ain.
105 reviews18 followers
August 25, 2021
4 estrellas seguras (podrían haber sido 4,5 pero lo he leído con demasiados parones forzosos para apreciarlo).

Sentía una especial debilidad especial por Mark Twain y este libro me recordó el porqué de ello. Escrito 1889, Twain nos narra la vida de Hank Morgan, un turista al que conoce durante una visita a un castillo medieval y quien asegura haber vivido en la época del Rey Arturo, a donde fue transportado después de una pelea.

El relato es hilarante, pues es una sátira en la que se compara la civilización del siglo VII con la del siglo XIX desde el punto de vista de alguien con un conocimiento moderno y que ha de vivir allí y componérselas para salir vivo del periplo. Contado con el brillante sentido del humor de Twain, el libro está lleno de comentarios y reflexiones buenísimos. Además, uno se da cuenta hasta qué punto la edad industrial había avanzado en la época del Twain, con el teléfono, el telégrafo, los trenes...

Por supuesto, aparecen personajes de la talla del Rey Arturo, la Reina Ginebra, Lacelot y el Hada Morgana, pero quien se lleva la palma es Hank Morgan, quien tiene una visión del mundo bastante peculiar.

En la obra también se incluyen ataques feroces contra la Iglesia Católica, la Monarquía y la nobleza, de los que Mark Twain no era un apasionado admirador.

Libro mediano, de unas 450 páginas, que se lee muy bien, pues está estructurado en capítulos cortos, de unos 10 minutos de duración de media.
Profile Image for Sesana.
5,327 reviews343 followers
April 18, 2012
A late-19th century American travels back in time to Arthurian England. This, of course, not really Arthurian England, or even medieval England, but a sort of mythical Dark Age with Arthurian elements. Twain had quite a bit to say about the past that his accidental time traveler finds himself in. Though that relates at least as much, if not more so, to his present day than it did to the Middle Ages. It can be funny, even darkly so, at times.
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